Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Was James Holmes Playing a Game?

By Meg Curtis, PhD

James Holmes appears to have played “Stop Me If You Can” in Aurora, CO, last Friday night. Why else would he send a package announcing his plans to the university? Is it inappropriate to call his notebook a “game plan”?

Teams protect their strategies, don’t they? So why would he telegraph his intentions unless the packaged notebook served as a challenge? He lived in the world of graduate school, where participants infamously succeed or fail by publication.

He published his savage yet primitive illustrations through the U.S. Mail, if reports from Fox News and others prove accurate. Has a publication date ever been more important than this one? Either it arrived prior to the atrocity or afterwards, providing critical evidence.

Either the package serves as forewarning, or it concretizes deadly intent. A third choice seems missing. If it was sent and arrived before July 20, then it tested his credibility with the receiver, who needed to catch it and pass it to police. Is an incomplete pass Holmes’ doing?

This is the world of gamesmanship where only moves count. No one thinks this way on an earthly playing field where cracked heads count. But Holmes had removed that factor by donning battle dress which protected his head and vital organs.

This mentality is different than coordinating moves among team members, which even quarterbacks must consider, although they may often steal the spotlight. Holmes played as a team of one, counting his apparel as his support group. Who then was his opponent?

Easy choices line up this way: 1, the university with its mail room, 2. the receiver, who yet remains nameless, 3. the police, who could be expected to run interference. The question remains: Did he bet against the odds, when winning can mean losing in a very big way?

As Ashley Lutz reports in Business Insider: “His elementary classmates remember Holmes as a well-behaved kid who excelled at computer programming and sports. He got ‘picked for flag football first, because he was fast,’ one classmate told The Californian. (

Games played against the self appear nonsensical to outsiders. Nevertheless, children specialize in them, hoping adults stop them before they rush into traffic or spill milk. Such children do not understand tears, broken bones or broken hearts. Only adults can mourn.   

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