On Thursday night, at a midnight screening of the new Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises," 12 people were murdered and over 50 were injured by a psychopath with a bunch of guns and some gas bombs. The person who is currently in custody for these crimes was identified as local student James Holmes. That is, until the press figured out his middle name. Now the suspect is identified as James Eagan Holmes.
So why does he suddenly have three names? I suppose if my name were James Holmes, I would be pretty happy at the sudden name change. The last thing I would ever want is to be confused with a mass murderer. So, to all the John Booths and Lee Oswalds out there, you're welcome. But is that the only reason that the most famous killers of our time are commonly referred to by their full names?
Well, John Wilkes Booth was an actor, and he used his full name, or variations of it, in his profession, and so it is only natural that we would use his three names. If Neil Patrick Harris started assassinating people, it would be silly to start calling him "Neil Harris." So there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for the use of his full name. As for Lee Harvey Oswald, I'm not sure exactly why he got three names. In this radio interview he did in 1963, he was repeatedly referred to as "Lee Oswald." The Harvey got stuck in there later on I guess.
James Earl Ray, Mark David Chapman, John Wayne Gacy, Jared Lee Loughner, and now James Eagan Holmes. It's almost a tradition at this point to give our national murders three names. But not always. What about Timothy McVeigh? Or Ted Kaczynski? Why don't they get three names? Is it because they used bombs instead of guns? What is the pattern here? And do you even know the names of the kids from Columbine? I don't, off the top of my head, although I'm sure it is just a few googly clicks away. Ah, yes. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. But they were minors, so maybe that's different.
Does anyone know the real reason for this? Why do we give our killers three names? If it's just to avoid confusion with normal folks, maybe we should force celebrities to do this too. Like poor Michael Bolton in the movie "Office Space," I'm sure there are many people out there who wish that they did not share a name with a celebrity. There is a very angry, 56-year-old Justin Bieber out there somewhere, I'm sure of it. And if it is just random, well...that's weird. There must be an answer. Please leave said answer in the comments below. Thanks.