In the wake of the Colorado shooting at the premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises " there has been debate about gun control, whether the man arrested deserves the death penalty and the less serious question of whether it's ever appropriate to joke about a tragedy that claimed 12 lives and saw 58 other people injured.
An editor at The Wall Street Journal has been criticized for an off-color tweet that read, "I hope the girls whose boyfriends died to save them were worthy of the sacrifice." After Playboy model Tricia Evans tweeted, "I heard the new Batman movie is 'to die for'! Too soon?" she was blasted by musician Deadmau5, who responded by saying, "good to know. @Hollywood Tricia i seriously had no idea how big of a piece of s**t you are. unfollowed."
Comedian Keith Malley is another public voice who's used his Twitter account to make light of the horror in Aurora. On Friday, Malley tweeted to his 4,400 followers, "Maybe he knew how bad the movie was and wanted to save others from the same disappointment?" and initially got the same reaction as the Wall Street Journal editor and Tricia Evans.
When Malley discussed the tweet and the reaction he received (which included death threats) on "Keith and the Girl," the podcast he co-hosts with singer and comedian Chemda Khalili, a family member of one of the Colorado victims heard the show. The listener, named Shaun, claimed to be a brother of one of the 12 killed in Colorado and, surprised by the negative reaction on Twitter and the show's online forums, wrote in to support Malley's take on the polarizing issue.
The hosts read the letter on the air.
"Keith didn't personally write to me and make a joke about my brother dying," Shaun wrote. "He wrote a silly joke about the situation in general. This reminds me of the 'Keith and the Girl' show where they covered the Virginia Tech shooting. They read and reenacted the shooter's plays that he wrote and Keith made off-color remarks about the whole thing then. People got upset and then [Keith and the Girl] received phone calls and letters from actual Virginia Tech students that were not only not offended by the show but they appreciated the way everything was handled with humor and respect."
"Keith twittered something along the lines of maybe the shooter did it because he wanted to save people from a disappointing movie and then people treated Keith like he was the murderer," Shaun continued. "Let me say something on behalf of the loved ones of the theater shooting as we've been in contact with each other: We don't need sensitivity like this. It's misplaced and ridiculous and, in fact, it's offensive. Like how Keith and Chemda talk about how people offended at comedy clubs because they hear a word...and it sets off an alarm."
The reaction of the brother of a man who was killed in the shooting last week is very different from that of those who were claiming to defend him. It's a powerful sentiment.
"They're offended but they don't even know why," Shaun wrote. "They don't really feel offended they just act like they are because they think they should be. Stop being self-righteous, certainly don't be self-righteous for our sake we can speak for ourselves and if you really want to make a difference do what you can to ban assault weapons, which have no practical purpose whatsoever or just let out your frustration at Keith after all that's so much easier than trying to do something real. Thank you Keith and thank you Chemda, I didn't know how I'd feel when you covered the Virginia Tech shootings if I went to that school but now I can relate much better and I think you both are very caring people...You help and you heal."