Inviting victims' families to reopening is misguided olive branch, at best.
Maybe the easier and more gracious reaction would have been to simply say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” Or maybe not.
Several family members of the 12 people killed in the Aurora, Colo. theater shootings last July have expressed, through a publicly released letter, their anger over the “disgusting offer” to attend the theater’s Jan. 17 reopening, described in the invitation as an “evening of remembrance,” along with the showing of a movie.
Cinemark, the Plano, Texas-based company that owns the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, sent out the invites two days after Christmas, timing that, to some, only fanned the flames.
In the letter, the victims’ loved ones say Cinemark never reached out to the victims’ families to offer their condolences. They also say the company refused to meet with any of them one-on-one without lawyers present.
Which should surprise no one, in these litigious times. There’s no such thing as an unexplainable tragedy anymore; there are always plenty of lawsuits to be filed in the aftermath. In the case of the Aurora theater shootings, several of the victims’ families are suing Cinemark.
Given that, it’s clear that every single person who works for Cinemark or who works for the theater in Aurora has been advised in no uncertain terms to not speak with any of the victims’ loved ones without legal representation present. It’s also completely plausible that lawyers for Cinemark advised company officials a long time ago to not express condolences or any other responses the vast majority of the civilized public might think are entirely appropriate in the wake of such a terrible incident. After all, if you express condolences, you’re basically saying you’re sorry, are you not? And if the company that owns the theater where 12 were shot to death and 58 were wounded says anything to anyone about being sorry in any way, shape or form, couldn’t a legal team argue that it’s admitting it’s at least somewhat culpable?
It would be great to dismiss the previous paragraph as being nothing short of preposterous, but it’s not preposterious in the least. Which is why it just seems wrong for Cinemark – no matter how much the community of Aurora has rallied around the renovations and reopening of the Aurora theater, which apparently it has – to send invites to the reopening/evening of remembrance/movie to the families of those who died that night in July just because they wanted to see the new Batman flick. One could argue it’s even a little creepy.
The marketing consultant who signed off on the idea should have a lot of explaining to do. In this case, there is such a thing as bad publicity.