Before a wig-wearing nutjob threw a shoe at Hillary Clinton... Alison Ernst, 36... arrived in a Colorado courtroom with her head shaved while wearing a red dress before declaring she held evidence “vital to the defense of James Holmes.”Holmes, with his wig-like orange hair, shot 12 moviegoers to death and wounded many others back in 2012. After the Holmes hearing, Ernst filed a lawsuit that included this text:
"James enters my head like Dennis Quaid in ‘Innerspace’ and he zooms to my heart and plays with it and forces me to care for him... I seek a restraining order to stop Holmes from entering my mind through subliminal messaging and causing me to be obsessed with him on a daily basis."None of this is cute or amusing or an occasion for political posturing. There are deranged individuals out and about, and we should try to help them or at least stop them before they do serious violence. When I first heard about the shoe-throwing, I wanted to do what I could to deprive this person of attention. This kind of acting out toward a political figure is a reminder of the risks taken by everyone who offers herself (or himself) up to public service. You may think we should disrespect those who seek power. I do too. But to strike out physically is a different matter. Even when the action seems more symbolic than dangerous — like a shoe-throwing — it is a violent assault, and it is on a continuum with assassination, the threat any political candidate or office holder lives with continually.
I avoided reading other news articles and blog posts about Ernst, but I had the feeling that there would be comparisons to the time someone threw a shoe at George Bush, that there would be efforts to score points claiming that the amusement or justification expressed at the attack on Bush made it appropriate to turn the tables and laugh or cheer at the attack on Hillary. Maybe no one wrote anything like that, but aversion to that kind of commentary kept me away from this story.
For the record, I didn't want to talk about the shoe thrown at Bush either.
I'm writing about the Hillary incident now because the connection to James Holmes brings some focus to the real danger out there.