Far too often I’ve seen mass-killers and would-be mass killers splashed across TV screens with every aspect of their lives examined. The Columbine killers have had their murderous spree played out countless times with surveillance footage showing them donning their trench coats and weaponry, usually followed by close-ups of photos of the teens preparing for their carnage. They, and killers like them, become reality celebrities with the world’s most dangerous fan-base, other would-be spree killers.
Too often I have read of spree-killers keeping clippings of other spree killers, reveling in the attention they obtained and seeking to emulate. Why give it to them? I recognize that it’s “news” to report the identity of a killer, but even in a 24/7 age of media, must we give the evil among us so much personal reward (fame) for what they inflict? Long ago, I opted to stop saying their names or the name of any of these spree killers. I seek to make them as anonymous as possible, to strip them of the glory of fame so many of them seem to seek. I recognize I am but one radio show in a huge media world so my stand will not directly change anything, but it’s a start. And the idea is catching on–Megyn Kelly’s show on Fox seems to be taking this approach, for example.
After any spree-killing, there is an inevitable media debate about taking away certain kinds of guns, but after viewing the attention-seeking videos of the killer at UC Santa Barbara, can we not also have a debate about taking away certain kinds of coverage? I’m not talking about a legal restriction but a moral obligation to deny these pathetic losers the fame some clearly seek.
This idea didn’t originate with me, nor do I believe others are copying my stand–rather I think people within the media are coming to the same conclusions on their own. I recognize it won’t always be possible or even advisable to avoid saying these names or showing their videos, but it seems to me a correction in this kind of coverage is sorely needed. They might be an unsavory part of the news, but that doesn’t mean new levels of coverage should be turning them into legends.
On the other hand, if TV stations want to show countless pictures and video of heroes who put a stop to acts of evil, I’m all for it.