Thursday, April 19, 2007

Validating the actions of a madman

Who else is tired of seeing video and photos of the Virginia Tech killer plastered all over the mass media?

While I certainly don't want to suggest that anyone has a legitimate excuse for killing innocent people, it does occur to me that immortalizing him over-and-over-again on our 24-hour news cycle, does little to discourage other potentially unstable kids from doing the same thing.

Of course, there are many factors at play when someone decides to go on a mass killing spree - mental instability, abuse, society, media, culture, upbringing to name just a few - and the news media in and of themselves do not "cause" people to grab a gun and start shooting. However, does it not occur to anyone that, by inadvertently turning Cho Seung-Hui into a kind of subversive hero-warrior, the idea of going all Rambo at school looks kind of glamorous to other disturbed students? It's like they light the match.

I was bullied as a kid and I know what it's like to feel so pushed into a corner and so hateful of the people who did it, that you spend many hours contemplating their demise. While it never occurred to me to find a gun and shoot them (because I grew up in England anyway and couldn't have found one even if I tried; that's a rant for another time) I would sit in bed at night and concoct evil Jackie-Collins-type plots that would steal their future husbands, get them fired from their job, turn their friends against them, and swindle them out of their very last penny. I wanted to take every source of joy in their life away, just as they had done to me. I wanted everyone to see them for what they were - pathetic and mean - and see me for what I really thought I was... better than them. I would show them.

None of this is an excuse to kill people but it does mean I understand the basic desire to "show" the people you felt wronged by, just how wrong they were to have picked on you. And by continually airing these sick videos and pictures, the news media plays right into the hands of Cho Seung-Hui and other young people like him. There are other students out there thinking right now how great it would be to do the same thing, just so they could get their message of victimization and hate out on national news media.

In my opinion, one of many ways to discourage repeat incidents like this is for the news media to refuse to air these videos or publish these pictures. Without the prospect of getting the attention in death they so craved in life, perhaps other similarly damaged youths will think twice about taking innocent lives.

2 comments:

e said...

I'm with you on this one. There's more talk about this nut than about the people he killed. Lame.

dee said...

Broadcasting his words and pictures gives voice to his monstrous madness (or what ever it was that allowed him to think it was ok to slaughter 32 people). It's like glorifying a suicide bomber. Reading though the stories of the victims makes it clear what was lost (http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2007/virginiatech.shootings/victims/index.html). One in particular touched me the most: Liviu Librescu, a 76 year old holocaust survivor, aeronautical engineer, professor and department head blocked the doorway with his body, delaying the shooter's access to those inside.

The same day this happened, 175 Iraqi's were killed by a suicide bomber in Baghdad.

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