Monday, June 22, 2015
the mysteries of doing the right thing
Tired of "mass shootings." Was thinking -- these guys are copying each other -- they see the "fame" and notoriety the last shooter received in various media, and want that for themselves. It gives them a role model -- an example to follow.
Today I discovered a CNN article online written by Evan Perez, Sept. 24, 2014 -- FBI analyst Andre Simons is quoted: "The copycat phenomenon is real."
Would it help if media quit putting the name and photograph of the shooter in their stories? Just write that it happened, and police are investigating.
Since media has moved away from serious News and into Entertainment, names and photos elevated by media-mention achieve a sort of "fame" even for wrong-doers.
Remove the warm glow of pseudo-celebrity, which has served as a "reward" for these killers.
Thinking about this brought up long-filed memories from my childhood in northeastern Ohio -- in the two small towns where I attended elementary school,
we students were marched outdoors ("walk, don't run") more than once for bomb threats.
(Ahh, lovely childhood.
Bikes, dolls, kitties,
bomb threats. A magical time...)
I can remember walking-not-running outside and standing around, kind of having fun, because when you're a child interruptions are "fun," but also at the same time feeling kind of bored -- and then walking impatiently back into the school building -- orderly lines of children, back to our desks...
Some of these were fire drills, and some were bomb threats, and now through the thickness of time and the richness, clutter, and confusion of memory, I cannot recall how many times we went out and came back in, nor how many of these exercises were fire drills and how many were due to bomb threats.
But I remember that phenomenon...and I remember that by the time I was in junior high, the bomb threats had ceased. It was a trend, and it eventually stopped. Neither of the schools I attended ever blew up, nor was a bomb ever found (at least as far as we knew). And I have no recollection of the perpetrators' names or photographs appearing in any local news reports.
No fame; no attention; the behavior went away.
Back then, even if it had made the local paper, it would not have been beamed around the world on the internet, or cable tv...today's global coverage -- breathless, frenzied, repetitive, ubiquitous, and almost identical -- amounts to a mental pummeling of the viewer or reader. And it creates instant fame for the killers.
Not everyone wants fame, or can understand that desire -- but I think it may be obvious that the grandiose, simple-minded, and vicious personalities that want to commit these violent acts, probably do find the fame aspect appealing.
The media can stop rewarding the behavior of shooters with instant celebrity. So far, they choose not to stop. In response to this idea, media representatives would probably insist "But we have to -- we have to report all the facts we have, nownownow!" ("And get the ratings" being the subtext.)
Media entities can decide to control themselves and set standards on their reporting, to benefit society, even the whole world. So far, they choose not to. Why? Could it be for the sake of short-term profits?