Did James Holmes, the suspect in the Aurora, Colo. theater shooting, buy his bloody bullets with your hard-earned tax dollars? It looks that way. Not only did he kill a dozen people and injure dozens more, but it looks like he planned and executed the massacre while living a life of ease on the government's dime.
The politicians are always telling us that the money they spend on education is money well spent. We're supposed to get all misty eyed about investing in the futures of America's brightest young minds. But the alleged shooter's shoddy academic background leads one to wonder what standards are being used to disburse these funds.
Holmes, who apparently spent his spare time coloring his hair bright red and posting his picture on sex web sites, was the recipient of a $26,000 federal grant from the National Institute of Health. What did he do with all the money you and I gave him? One thing is certain, he didn't spend much time studying. In fact, he was reportedly in academic trouble prior to dropping out of the neuroscience PhD program at the University of Colorado back in June. So you and I got to pay taxes, essentially, so this individual could avoid work for the last year.
The media, once it found out about the NIH fellowship, immediately branded this guy as some kind of delicate genius. Now that narrative has been discredited. This guy was no genius. Now we are left to wonder how he managed to secure a prestigious and lucrative NIH grant with only a mediocre academic record.
John Jacobson, a man who oversaw Holmes during a summer internship at the University of California's Salk Institute back in 2006 told the Los Angeles Times, He should not have gotten into the summer program. His grades were mediocre. I've heard him described as brilliant. This is extremely inaccurate.
In addition to being less than brilliant, Holmes proved himself to be insubordinate, stubborn, and lazy during his time under Jacobson's oversight. He refused to follow instructions, and was unable to communicate well or interact with others sociably.
Jacobson describes Holmes's transcript as a mix of B's and B+'s. How did Holmes gain admission to this supposedly prestigious neuroscience PhD program at the University of Colorado with a B average, and a poor work history?
Furthermore, how did this thick-headed creep land an NIH grant? How many deserving students got passed over in favor of this B-student with a bad attitude? Why weren't Holmes's prior supervisors consulted prior to his being awarded the NIH grant? When the dust has settled in this case, there needs to be some serious accounting on the part of those who invested tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars and educational resources in this unqualified, irresponsible, and corrupt individual.
A great deal of violence and grief has accompanied Holmes's alleged actions. His academic work is only a small part of the story. But we must remember that his academic work was the reason he was living in Colorado to begin with. And it has been widely suggested that Holmes's academic troubles, which resulted from him being accepted into a program he probably wasn't prepared or qualified for, may have pushed him over the edge. For those who suffered injury and death in that movie theater, these issues are significant.
And for the rest of us, who weren't directly involved, we too must be concerned about the lack of academic standards in this case because we subsidized this individual's reprobate lifestyle with our tax dollars.
Nathan Harden is editor of The College Fix. His latest book is, SEX & GOD AT YALE: Porn, Political Correctness, and a Good Education Gone Bad. Follow him on Twitter @nathanharden