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June 21, 2018

10/10/2017 7:29:00 AM
Keep them unknown: Mass shooters belong in dustbin of history

Evan J. Pretzer
Lakeland Times reporter

Another month, another mass shooting in America.

Last week, the familiar and devastatingly sad song and dance we're all too used to as a nation unfolded in Las Vegas.

A white male who seemingly had no problems beforehand acquired some weaponry and opened fire on a crowd of innocent people. This time at a country-western music festival.

Like past tragedies in Colorado (which really could be nicknamed "The Mass Shooting State" at this point), Connecticut and California, our media figures and political elite are walking their way through the same steps they've always done.

Talk show hosts cry on camera, senators drag out the increasingly empty "thoughts and prayers" slogan, political zealots of all stripes focus on firearms and, like always, the sensible public is left without any solutions or attempts to stem the epidemic.

Today, I'm proposing one.

It's a modest proposal. Not too grand and not particularly sexy to a newscast producer, but it would make a difference.

In future events, if the perpetrator is not captured alive, don't say his name. In fact, place a ban on publishing it at all. Historically, the fame these deranged individuals get after death only influences other sick people to do the same thing.

Consider the gunman who killed several people at Isla Vista, Calif., in 2014. In his writings he noted that "infamy .. is better than total obscurity."

Before him, the Sandy Hook gunman expressed a similar view. In online postings later documented by the Los Angeles Times, he wrote about how many fans of mass murderers were out there on the internet.

And, as the Clinton administration ended, the boys who shot up Littleton, Colo., openly speculated about who would direct the movie based on their crime (it was between Spielberg and Tarantino).

Bottom line is, covering them extensively at the expense of victims is only fueling the cycle of doom.

It was controversial shock-rocker Marilyn Manson who wrote in Rolling Stone magazine that "since their inception, the media has turned criminals into folk heroes," and that "by putting those (Columbine) dip-sh**s pictures on the front of every newspaper ... every kid who gets pushed around has two new idols."

He was right and we can do better. If they're not alive, don't name them!

Evan J. Pretzer may be reached via email at evan@lakelandtimes.com.

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