On Monday while watching CNN coverage of Aurora shooter James Holmes’ court appearance, “Sarah” tweeted something about James Holmes being somewhat attractive.
She got little response until the following day when Jezebel published a post titled, “Disturbing: Women on Twitter Think James Holmes Is ‘Hot,’ ‘Sexy,’ ‘Cute.” Her tweet, along with 10 others, was screen-capped alongside the piece, which detailed the many serial killers who have attracted female fans. Then came the threatening tweets, emails and phone calls, she says. "I've received hateful tweets ranging from 'You should be ashamed of yourself' to "You should get sterilized' to 'I hope someone kills your family to see if you'd still think he is cute.'" Someone called her house just to tell her "that they knew where I lived," she says.
"Sarah," who spoke to me on the condition that I leave her real name, Twitter handle and tweet out of this article, describes the past 24 hours as the worst of her life.
“Just so you know, I am not one of those crazies who actually gets off on psycho killers or anything like that,” she said. The tweet was taken out of context, she argues: Her other live tweets that day speculated on whether or not he looked drugged up during the hearing. “All I wanted to point out was that appearances can be deceiving,” she says.
And so too can tweets, apparently: Many, myself included, read her tweet as making light of the tragedy, but “Sarah” says, “I feel terrible about what happened in Aurora and I certainly do not think that what he did could ever be considered OK,” she says. “But what happened in Aurora and how I feel about that most unfortunate tragedy doesn't change the fact that this is an attractive, educated young man with a nice family who at first glance would be hard to peg as a serial killer.”
Should people be able to make such a simple observation -- that a mass murderer may be a monster but doesn't look like one -- without being heaped with opprobrium? Absolutely. Although it seems they rarely manage it with nuance or sensitivity in the land of 140-characters.