My wife was becoming more and more upset as the day's news about the massacre at Virginia Tech went on. I turned off the TV to calm her down, but something she said made more sense than anything any of the pundits had to say.
The shooter in this situation got exactly what he wanted. He took out his anger on as many people as possible, he got his message read to millions of breathless TV viewers, he became famous and he set a new record for carnage in the process.
Hardly had the last spent cartridge hit the floor before the news media were calling it possibly the worst such incident in history. Within 24 hours, the copycat bomb threats had begun. If I were a student on an American college campus today, I'd be packin' heat, so that I could shoot back if anyone marched into my classroom bent on imitating the evil man in Virginia!!!! There are going be other mentally unbalanced individuals out there in the coming weeks that will want to challenge the new record. The massive media coverage of the V-Tech incident will almost demand a response from any number of unbalanced individuals.
The Beatles had the right idea about how we should respond to murderers like this. After John Lennon was murdered by a crazed fan, they agreed among themselves never to mention the name of his killer. He's referred to as "he who must never be named" by many of Lennon's fans as well. Such an approach should be taken to every mentally deranged person that shoots up a school, blows up a bus or kills another human being. Their names should never be spoken again and they should be erased from public memory.
I would like to see just one news outlet have the courage to change their policy on reporting of terrorism and mass murder. It's true that the American public has a morbid curiousity to know why these things happen. So what! Who says we have to know everything.
How about let's use the forces of political correctness to do some good for a change. Let's make it politically incorrect to EVER mention the name of any psychotic individual who slaughters others. The Colombine Murders would be a fine way to refer to the boys who marched into their high school and started shooting their friends. "The 9/11 terrorists" would be all we'd ever need to refer to those guys. If you need to talk about one of them in a documentary, you could say, "One of the 9/11 terrorists".
You don't read their manifestos. You don't negotiate with them. You don't spend months blaming everyone else for the misdeeds of these miscreants. You only have to say the Virginia Tech Murderer was a seriously disturbed individual who senselessly killed his classmates and friends. That's all anyone needs to know about him. We don't need to know his race or to talk about how many he killed or discuss his statistics versus someone else's. No news media outlet should announce any part of any note, manifesto or weblog created by the perpetrator. His purpose should be forgotten. After all, getting his message out there was why he did this in the first place. If we make mass murder unprofitable, maybe they'll quit. If doing this will get you absolutely forgotten, why would you go to the trouble. No one will know it was you, will know why you did it or will care what terrible thing you thought was done to you that justified your murdering people.
If anyone does anything like this ever again, his or her name should be blotted out of existence and never spoken again as a sign of respect and reverence for the victims. Heroes like the professor who held the door while his students escaped out the windows, a Holocaust survivor who died with his hand on the doorknob is who should be remembered, not the tortured psychopath who killed him.
Our culture should begin a tradition of erasing mass murderers from existence by general agreement. It should be considered the height of disrespect to the victims of serial killers to mention the killer's name ever again. We could do that. If you want to punish someone like the cult leader who killed Sharon Tate and her friends, you forget him. No attention, not even his name should survive. He should be purged from our collective memory.
Would it work? You know I bet it would. You see, I couldn't tell you the name of the guy who killed John Lennon. I've actually forgotten.
If I were President of the U.S. I would suggest just such a thing from the bully pulpit he occupies as our nation's leader. It would be risky, but I guarantee if he asked the American people to do it, there would be a whole lot of us who would adopt the practice of refusing to say the name of the evil ones.
I'm not saying we shouldn't be forgiving and try to understand that an unbalanced mind can sometimes snap. That's helpful. It helps us watch for others who are in danger of coming apart at the seams. If we do that, maybe we can catch them in time to get them some help. But for the sake of other folks with schizophrenia, bipolar and other psychoses, lets not help feed their delusions by giving them a national stage on which to act out their tortured delusions of grandeur.
I will start taking my own advice by refusing to watch any newscast or documentary that mentions the name of the Virginia Tech Murderer. I would urge you to do the same and encourage your friends to do so.
Just one man's opinion...
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