Saturday, April 21, 2007

Glorifying EVIL

NBC did it. The New York Times did it. Probably every media outlet on earth did it. All of them chose to give the Virginia Tech gunman the forum that he wanted so badly that 32 innocents had to pay with their lives.

When will the press ever learn? They can report on the story without playing into the hands of a perpetrator of such evil. We can know all we need to know without ever seeing a photo of the monster, or hearing his/her name, or reading or listening to his/her demented rantings.

Sure, being the curiosity-driven creatures we are will lead us to leave the TV on, or read all the print stories, or study a photo of the face of hatred and evil with intensity and puzzlement. But what do we gain by it? Does it help us to avoid a repeat event? Sadly, the answer is just the opposite.

Every time there is a spectacularly vicious slaughter, we shower the murderer with attention and awe, saturating the air and print media with all manner of portrayal of mindset, history, crime specifics, images, and twisted philosophical spewage, effectively glorifying the act and the actor. And the result is utterly predictable: an immediate batch of imitators who want to share in such attention, and inspiration for others who will fester along until they can manage a suitable sequel.

Why do we tolerate this? Why is there not a law, or at least a general agreement, to withhold ALL attention from these nastiest specimens of humanity? They do not deserve our attention and indeed, by providing it we feed the forces of evil that spawn their imitators. Yes, attend to their victims and tell their tragic tales, but as if they’ve had their lives dashed by a meteor or accidental gas explosion, which in a way is a more accurate depiction of their experience. Because clearly, what has hit them was merely a loose cannon from our midst. Their lives have been lost, but by a random act (even as it was intentional).

Even worse is the suggestion of sympathy toward the madman—about his being taunted as a child or whatever. NO!!! It simply does not matter, is not explanatory, and does not in the least exonerate him from his grotesque massacre.

And finally, can we lose the stupidity of describing such people as “loners”? Those who commit evil but who are NOT loners are not thusly described but instead are described: “but he seemed so normal...” Being a (so-called) loner does not predispose one to such acts! And in fact, since domestic violence claims so many more lives, it could be argued that living in close proximity to others is the greater predictor of pathology.

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