Friday, 6 November 2009

Preventing Mass Murders

Whenever these Columbine/Austin clock tower/Ft. Hood sorts of events occur, the media orchestrates displays of handwringing and bewilderment about what went wrong and consternation about how we might prevent such things from happening in the future. But isn't the solution, although not easily implemented, fairly obvious? I believe that most of these nutbars who shoot up restaurants or army bases or schools or office buildings before taking their own lives, directly or by "death by cop", wouldn't bother to do so if they knew that despite the horrific actions they'd die in relative obscurity.

If I'm right, this imposes an obligation on the news media and news consumers to stop providing that which motivates the actions of these killers, i.e., fame. News media should just stop reporting the details about these kinds of killers. They could report the crimes but leave out the killer's name and details about the killer's personal life, focusing instead on the nature of the crime and the victims. Other than local media that may have family members of the killer in its audience, how is it in the public interest to learn the details of the private lives of these killers? In discussing these people ad nauseam is the media doing anything other than suggesting to those who are leading failed insignificant lives, that this route at least offers them an opportunity to matter and be noticed?

The obligation also falls on the news consumers. We should stop seeking out and paying attention to such details and perhaps also join together to boycott news organizations that publish those names and details and the companies that sponsor them.

I'm not suggesting a legal ban, but a voluntary ethical code, based on the same kinds of principles that prevent news media from explaining how to build bombs or leaving out certain details of crimes or failing to publicize the names of the victims of some crimes. This information wouldn't have to be top secret, it should remain available to people. Psychology researchers and criminologists, for example, should continue to access it. But if people actually had to go to police information sources and the media failed to broadcast it, I suspect that the main motivation for these crimes would be eliminated.


mijopo said...

Related Research:

mijopo said...
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