January 14, 2014

Fox News "Medical A-Team" member Keith Ablow thinks smartphones may be even more dangerous to have in theaters than handguns.

Ablow on Tuesday said a smartphone caused a retired police officer to experience "data rage" toward a man who was texting in a Florida theater and fatally shoot him.

After Curtis Reeves was ordered held without bond on Tuesday, Fox News hosts Bill Hemmer and Alisyn Camerota asked the television psychiatrist what might have caused the 71-year-old ex-Tampa officer pull out his .380 pistol and shoot 43-year-old Chad Oulson while he was texting his 3-year-old daughter.

"I think we may have to look at something I'll call data rage," Ablow opined. "Just like road rage. We know that when people interact with machines that sometimes they feel emboldened to do things that they never would, that it can be tremendously frustrating and that people who could be vulnerable -- by the way, they may be impulsive to begin with or explosive -- add in technology or a machine and things can go over the top."

"But Dr. Ablow," Camerota interrupted. "It sounds like you're blaming the victim. It's the victim who was allegedly texting and the suspected shooter was ticked off that maybe his movie viewing was interrupted and then they had this exchange of verbal altercation, and then the victim allegedly tossed some popcorn."

"We've got to blame the shooter here," Ablow insisted. "But in understanding it, we've got to say, 'Wow, that's interesting, there was a machine involved.' Now, we also know in road rage there is a car involved. People seem to be dehumanized by the presence of this car and the fact that they can't then connect to the individual."

"So what's happening here... where somebody's interacting with the machine and, therefore, removed from a kind of interpersonal moment here," he added. "In interacting with these machines, people do things they would never do. And not necessarily the guy pressing the button. It could be the guy two rows back who thinks of you as not human."

"The phrase you used is data rage, right?" Hemmer asked.

"I came up with that," Ablow admitted. "We know it with cars. Let's look for data rage elsewhere. We know it with Facebook. Why would kids feel emboldened to bully to the extent that they do on Facebook? Well, because of data rage."

At no time did the Fox News hosts or Ablow ever entertain the idea that firearms in theaters could also results in deaths.

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