Several days after the massacre in Aurora, I picked up the Washington Post and there, above the fold, were not one, not two, not three, but four pictures of the assailant - he who shall not be named. At the same time, tucked below the fold in the left hand corner was an article noting the death of Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut. Her picture was buried on the tenth page.
Talk about having our priorities screwed up.
When I saw the four pictures of the assailant, it occurred to me that this was probably exactly what this moron wanted. He craved attention, he wanted to show the world that he had balls, that he could not be stopped. Like assassins before him, he may have thought he was Holden Caulfied or he may have been hoping to catch the eye of a Jody Foster.
Since the murders, we’ve seen the usual short-lived debate about gun control that the NRA manages to keep confined to a day or two. Instead of looking for solutions to these horrific and predictable incidents, the emasculated Congress expresses lame outrage at how this could happen in a country like ours and they send their sheepish condolences to the family of the victims. And that’s the last we’ll hear about this until the next time (like this past Sunday) when another “special bulletin” interrupts your regular television watching.
Well, for what it’s worth, I’d like to suggest an idea that will not infringe on those oh-so-precious Second Amendment rights.
Don’t give these deranged individuals what they want. Ignore them. Report the incident but don’t give the assailant his day in the sun. When the next “misunderstood” young adult walks into a church or a football stadium and murders more innocent people, don’t tell me his name, don’t show me his picture. When the next one ups the ante and kills dozens in the middle of Times Square, don’t put him on the cover of Time magazine.
If you think about it, except for the likes of Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy and a few others, we always forget their name anyway. For example, how many of you can name the man who injured Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and killed six others? Who killed the three students at West Paducah High School in Kentucky a few years ago? Heck, I’ll venture to say that most of us have forgotten the two boys who carried out the massacre at Columbine. If we don’t remember their names anyway, why tell it to us in the first place? Meanwhile, why do we need to see their face? Why do we have to splash their bio all over the front page? After all, it’s always the same person. They are all white males in their twenties, loners and, according to his neighbors, a “good but quiet kid.” The press could just call them all John Doe and it wouldn’t make any difference. But it would deny some of them the attention they craved so much.
Years ago, on a regular basis some idiot would jump onto a baseball field during the game and try to shake the hands of the like of Mickey Mantle, Henry Aaron, Willie Mays and others. Half the time they were drunk and probably had been challenged by their equally drunk buddies who were home watching the game. As they were running around the field, the television cameras would dutifully follow the culprit. Sure, the broadcasters would bemoan the action, but the guy would get his much-craved attention. But then, someone suggested that the cameras and commentators ignore the idiot. And guess what happened? The number of incidents has dropped dramatically.
Now I am not suggesting that if we do not publicize the name of the assailant, it will stop all the massacres. But let’s at least take that one possible motivation out of their hands. Let’s not encourage the copy-cat. Report the incident, focus more on the victims and avoid the temptation to reach for the sensational. And please don’t give me that “the readers have a right to know” crap.
And next time put a picture of a true American hero like Sally Ride above the fold instead.