Cinema showdown turns to tragedy

Jan 14, 2014

In news we all could have done without, we learn that a Florida man has been shot to death -- for texting during movie previews, a New York Times headline posits. "Man 1 was texting during the trailers in a US cinema. Man 2 asked him to stop. He didn't. So Man 2 shot him. Dead," News Limited's Paul Colgan put it, simply. One might think the conversation would turn to the gun debate. But, one would be wrong.

"Man shot to death texting in movie. 'The killing underscored the debate about when to use smartphones in public,'" The New Yorker's Lauren Collins quoted from the piece. "Seems like it underscores the debate about BRINGING A GUN INTO A DAMN MOVIE THEATER," came the stunned tweet from Jon Seff at MacWord. ProPublica's Abrahm Lustgarten appeared equally gobsmacked: "A man is shot in a movie theater and the resulting debate is whether to allow cell phones????" ZDNet's Jason Perlow shot off the sardonic tweet, "RESPECT ZEE SANCTITY OF ZEE MOVIE THEATRE OR YOU VILL BE SHOTTENZEE!" Journalist Bobbie Johnson reflected, "Surprised it's necessary to point out that if a person's shot for using phone at movies, the phone ain't the problem." Lindy West at Jezebel seemed equally nonplussed: "YES, LET'S DEBATE PHONES. NOT GUNS."

Meanwhile, Matt Pearce at the LA Times offered this: "Fixed that for you: 'The killing underscored the increased debate about when you shouldn't shoot people.'" ... while Michael Noer with Forbes offered a plea: "Please treat your fellow movie-goers with 'courtesy and respect' and for heaven's sake don't shoot them."

The story became an onion with increasingly dismaying layers. The person the victim was so eager to text? His three-year-old daughter, allegedly pictured with her parents at right.

And then there's the shooter: a retired police officer. "A 71 year old retired cop shot and killed a man for texting his 3 year old daughter before a movie started," came the surreal tweet from The Atlantic's Matt O'Brien. "Retired & active cops out of control," surmised Cate Long at Reuters. But Charles Jaco at Fox 2 St. Louis had a different take: "Another 2nd Amendment advocate." Washington Post's Max Fisher proclaimed, "Guns make us safer!" Daily Beast's Justin Miller shared some additional irony: "'I can't believe people would bring a gun to a movie,' added Cummings, a Marine who served in Vietnam."

And speaking of Miller, he also produced the saddest twitpic caption of all, which was retweeted hundreds of times: "Killed for texting his daughter in a movie theater today. This is America, folks."

About the author

Writes the @MuckRackDaily & runs #muckedup chat. Creator of #100helpfuldays. I can haz media tips?

Signup for the Muck Rack Daily email

A digest of journalism, written by journalists, delivered to your inbox daily.