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More Anger

I’m also angry at the media for how they cover these events.  Both SayUncle and Ahab today have talked about once instance of stupidity, but I’m sure the day will be filled with it.

We’ve had firearms as a technology for centuries now, and self-loading rifles for one of those centuries.  These horrific murder-suicides are a recent phenomena.   What changed?  Our media culture changed.  News is no longer about disseminating information, and keeping the public informed.   News is entertainment, and what better way to keep people glued to their TV than “Mass Murder in Nebraska!” and talking about the deranged perpetrator for the next several days, 24 hours a day.

Somewhere out there,  there is another person who’s life is crap, who feels powerless, who is watching this, and entering his own murder-suicide fantasy.  The media, who are only happy to portray a man with a gun as a force that strikes fear into the hearts of mere mortals, by parading the victims before the camera to talk about how scared they were, by prattling on about the power of the weapon he used, and by repeating the killer’s name far and wide to the point it becomes a household name.

I stated yesterday that I doubt the possibility of armed resistance plays much into selection of venue for the mass shooter.  They choose malls and schools because it shocks us, and scares us.  There have been studies that show this happens less often in areas that have concealed carry laws, and I believe this, but I think it’s less about the shooter thinking rationally and more about the culture.

A culture where firearms are more common, and people are familiar with them, won’t tend to breed these types of killers.  Why?  Because to people familiar with firearms, the gun is not a talisman.  It’s not an object of fear, control, veneration or prestige; these are ideas that are promoted by our media culture.  I believe these incidents are less likely to happen in a society that has a healthy shooting culture, not only because of the decreased likelihood of getting away with it, but because a man with a gun isn’t portrayed as powerful by that kind of culture.  A man with a gun is your neighbor, the town police man, or the grocer up the street.

It’s obvious that firearms play a role in these shootings, but I don’t think you can fully address the issue without addressing how our media and entertainment cultures portray them.

25 Responses to “More Anger”

  1. Jeff says:

    email sent to your gmail account…..

  2. Breda says:

    I think that these people, these murderers, choose malls and schools because they are a confined area with plenty of people inside. This might be the same reason that these areas are made gun-free zones. So chicken/egg? I don’t know.

  3. GeorgeH says:

    We are a society that confuses notoriety with fame. Combine that with more air time than the news networks can fill and you get days and days of nationwide stories and pictures of the loser creep. Losers only go to the trouble of acting out like this rather than hanging themselves in their closets like they used to if they think it will make them famous.

    A TV policy of never showing a picture of a spree killer, or of broadcasting his name would quickly put an end to the whole business. No one is going to do all that work only to be known worldwide as “The Loser in Nebraska”.

  4. kaveman says:

    All reminds me of a quote I heard a 27 year CBS news veteran say was spoken to him by the top editor.

    “We need more dog eats baby stories. That’s what the folks living in single-wides tune in for.”

  5. Dano says:

    Think events like these need to be treated like they do in sports when a fan runs on the field. They refuse to show it. Which is a pity in some cases, seeing a pissed off 240 lbs. linebacker clothesline a retard would be funny to watch and might signal a warning to others thinking about doing the same thing.

  6. Ian Argent says:

    A simple squib should be enough.

  7. Jeff says:

    I almost fell over when I read it in my local anti-gun fishwrapper:

    http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071206/BIZ01/312060058

    Money quote:

    Revoking in-mall bans that prohibit weapons on customers?

    “I spent good deal of time in Israel with the Israeli national police and just about everybody in Israel is armed,” Bridgeman said. “As a result, basic street crime is unheard of – there is a certain deterrent effect when you don’t know if others around you are willing and able to defend themselves.”

  8. Alcibiades McZombie says:

    I wonder if it would be constitutional to legislate news blackouts for such situations.

  9. Gregg says:

    If it’s just due to a target rich environment and a desire to get on the news, then why don’t we hear of more gun show shootings? I would think that would be an optimal place to gain notoriety. Heck, the news agencies would cover that nonstop, with a BIG paycheck from the Joyce foundation to boot.

    Oh, yeah the durn fool would probably have the weapon shoved up his lower orifice, or a hot lead injection before he pulled the trigger more than once, and maybe even before that.

  10. Sebastian says:

    Clearly, Alcibiades, we need this reasonable restriction on the first amendment. The founders could have never envisioned 24 news coverage. Just because there’s a freedom of the press doesn’t mean you have a right to broadcast whatever you want! We must urge congress to pass legislation now. It’s for the children.

  11. Sebastian says:

    If it’s just due to a target rich environment and a desire to get on the news, then why don’t we hear of more gun show shootings?

    A lot of people would be happy to have a gun show shot up if such a thing were possible. I won’t deny that the possibility of obvious armed resistance wouldn’t play a role in this fantasy… I’m just not sure a lot of these killers are making their choice based on whether or not the mall in question is posted.

  12. Ian Argent says:

    “I wonder if it would be constitutional to legislate news blackouts for such situations.”

    Neither constitutional nor an especially good idea to allow for ConLaw reasons; sadly. Too much of a bad precendent.

  13. Alcibiades McZombie says:

    Well, I was working under the assumption that the FCC’s censorship policies are constitutional.

  14. Ian Argent says:

    The FCC’s censorship policies are only constitutional for licensed broadcast TV – and don’t cover this kind of thing anyway.

  15. kaveman says:

    Here’s part of the little shit-bags suicide note…

    “I know everyone will remember me as some sort of monster but please understand that I just don’t want to be a burden on the ones that I care for my entire life,” the 19-year-old wrote. “I just want to take a few pieces of shit with me.”

    What a fucking coward! He should have just offed himself and left everybody else the fuck alone.

  16. Alcibiades McZombie says:

    I forgot, the U.S. had an Office of Censorship during World War II.

  17. Alcibiades McZombie says:

    Well, news outlets are never going to voluntarily cease their hysterics. You’re going to have to force them somehow. I suppose you could try to sue them on some basis.

  18. Ian Argent says:

    Good luck getting censorship on domestic news not related to war-time security. In fact, at the curren titme, good luck getting censorship on what is clearly sensitive security-ralted material…

    Attempting to close off media coverage of these incidents by force of law strikes me as an attempt to legislate morality; which just isn’t going to work.

    This is another example of a societal problem, really. And to a certain extent, I think the societal changes necessary are happening; they’re just happening so painfully slowly as to not be noticeable on a day-to-day basis.

    On this incident – in prior years there wouldn’t even have been a public debate as to whether an incident like this one was a justification for more gun control; it would have been assumed and we would have gone on from there.

  19. Alcibiades McZombie says:

    Nah, I was just thinking we could send letters to the editor complaining about their behavior, claiming the “living” constitution allows for censorship of the news.

    I’d wonder if they’d print it.

  20. Ian Argent says:

    Write the letter to the editor protesting the coverage – it’d probably be about as effective.

    Actually – a well-reasoned letter to the editor laying out why they shouldn’t post names might get printed; unlike a diatribe.

    It’s not like printing his name is going to sell newspapers to this guy, after all

  21. Alcibiades McZombie says:

    Uh, I was joking about the diatribe.

  22. Ian Argent says:

    Sorry – my sarcasm meter needs recalibration ;)

  23. ChrisPer says:

    This is already handled under professional behaviour codes, but for oridnary suicides. The same media guidelines would work for mass shooters and terrorists, but it would spoil the profiteering of the sensational media.

    It will start to happen when citizens hold media organisations to account for the innocent deaths.

  24. Ian Argent says:

    What got me was a news article that contained the quote “and then the gunman tragically killed himself.” Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, over?

  25. Alcibiades McZombie says:

    I usually don’t expect anyone to take me seriously anyway.

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