Stoffa: There is little reason for fear at a movie theater

Gabriel Stoffa

In the wake of the shooting during the midnight premier of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colo., some panic has been rearing its ugly head concerning the safety of theater attendance.

Much like the weeks, months and, for some reason, years following the events of 9/11 where people saw any brown person with a beard and thought it was a terrorist attack, the fear of another gunman opening fire on a packed theater is hardly palpable, and the jumping at shadows that is occurring needs to stop.

In Edgewater, N.J., a man allegedly opened an exit during a showing Monday. Some theatergoers became alarmed and the police were called. The movie was ended and people were given refunds, then sent home. Lt. Don Martin said of the incident: “It’s not a good idea to open the door after what happened in Colorado.”

If another incident of violence were to occur, it isn’t going to be a man opening a door and then going to sit back down to watch the movie. This is the sort of heightened fear that will cause further fear. Yes, you shouldn’t be opening an exit door during a movie, but you shouldn’t have been doing that before Aurora.

In San Jose, Calif., the Eastridge Mall was evacuated and the Eastridge complex was shut down for 30 minutes as alarms sounded and all people watching movies were told to evacuate. Some evacuees interviewed were heard to say that they thought it was a repeat of what happened in Aurora.

But was this some terrible occurrence? No, a water main broke and someone in a position to react and tell others overreacted and incited others into a fearful state. Mall security informed people the evacuation was a false alarm.

In Biddeford, Maine, Timothy Courtois was stopped for speeding and arrested after police found an AK-47, four handguns, ammunition and newspaper clippings about the Aurora shooting. When questioned, Courtois said he was on his way to Derry, N.H., to shoot a former employee.

Courtois told police he had attended the new Batman movie at a theater Saturday night in Saco, Maine, with a loaded gun in his backpack, according to Yahoo News.

Though it could be considered scary that a man claims he attended a movie with a gun, nothing happened. There was no incident at a theater, but rather an arrest the next day on a highway turnpike where a man wanted to murder someone they worked with.

Attempts to kill employees unfortunately happen often enough to make the news multiple times a year, but we still go to work, so this shouldn’t cause further panic. Despite this rationale, message board commenters are calling for more strict safety precautions for theaters.

In Sierra Vista, Ariz., Michael Borboa was arrested during a showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” when he stood up causing a disturbance. Though it wasn’t until Borboa picked up his backpack that theater-goers ran in a panic from the theater, creating the disturbance that caused need to alert the police.

Was this a copycat inspired by the Aurora shooting? Nope. It was a homeless man that was intoxicated. When police arrested Borboa, they searched his bag and found a liquor bottle; a field test determined a blood-alcohol content level of approximately 0.3.

For those that don’t attend films often, drunk people are fairly common in movies. Yes, drunk people can be kind of scary if you aren’t accustomed to encountering drunks, but for the most part they are just loud and obnoxious.

In the above cases, and likely more to come, people will be frightened by many things that really shouldn’t be a concern.

Fear is natural and healthy, to an extent, but don’t let it get out of hand, and don’t let it cause unnecessary change. Fear has helped keep humans alive and assisted us in learning what to be cautious of for the entirety of our evolution, but fear will overtake our senses and cause irrational behavior when left unchecked. Fear must be curtailed in short order to allow life to go on.

“Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me.” — Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear, “Dune”