For some insane reason, videos made by the highly disturbed Parkland school shooter were released by prosecutors, and now the Washington Post is facing backlash for posting and promoting the videos.
Ironically, WaPo, in their coverage of the videos, discussed the dangers of promoting the name and face of a school shooter. All while promoting the name and face of the shooter, and giving his demented rant about his plans for a school shooting a huge platform.
“In his boasts about becoming famous, the teen touched on something that has worried survivors of shootings and their relatives alike,” read the article covering the videos. “Some have called for news organizations to limit their coverage of mass killers to take away the very infamy those attackers describe as a draw. Survivors of the Parkland attack made a similar argument Wednesday, pleading for attention to be paid to the victims rather than their attacker.”
After posting the article to Twitter complete with the shooter’s full name and an image of his face from the videos, The Daily Wire reports that WaPo was slammed by critics scolding the newspaper for essentially carrying out exactly what their article warned against.
“Take this down immediately! It’s irresponsible!” wrote one user.
“This is beyond reckless,” wrote another.
“Stop making him more famous,” another warned.
“Same people complaining about gun control are the same ones making these psychos celebrities,” observed one user. “Tell me how it’s a gun issue though.”
The Daily Wire notes that the policy of their website, announced by Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro following the Parkland shooting, has been to not publish the name or face of mass shooters and would-be mass shooters. “The reason, as Shapiro explained, and as the Parkland shooter’s videos underscore, is that studies have found that mass shooters are often motivated by a desire to be famous.”
They also cite 15-year-old Parkland survivor and Second Amendment activist, Kyle Kashuv, who recently penned an op-ed for their website explaining the empirical evidence behind the theory that promoting the names and images of mass shooters inspires more mass shootings.
Here is an excerpt from his article:
Empirical evidence supports the conclusion that publicizing the names of mass shooters promotes more mass murders. A 2016 paper presented to the American Psychological Association concludes that a “cross-cutting trait among many profiles of mass shooters is desire for fame.” An Arizona State University study found that shootings occurred in “clusters,” meaning that there is evidence to suggest “mass shootings, publicized in the media, may have a contagious effect.” The combined weight of these studies merits serious consideration on the value of publishing the names and faces of mass shooters versus the potential danger of inspiring future killers.
We know this desire to be famous to be the motivation of many killers by their own words. The Parkland killer recorded his plans on his cellphone before the shooting, declaring, “When you see me on the news, you’ll all know who I am.” The Sutherland Springs shooter was also “obsessed with mass murders,” calling them “cool” and wishing he had the “nerve” to commit one. The Virginia Tech shooter prior to his rampage in 2007 mailed a video manifesto to local news, a video that they played for their audience, solidifying his place in mass shooting infamy. Fame played a role in the minds of these mass shooters; it’s imperative to snuff out the sinister aspirations of potential mass shooters by refusing to give perpetrators the notoriety and fame they seek.
We live in a culture that is obsessed with fame, and also obsessed with mass shootings. We can’t help but be fixated on such a tragic event, but while normal, mentally healthy people fixate on mass shootings because they are particularly tragic, angry, mentally ill young men like the Parkland, Sutherland Springs, and Virginia Tech shooters become inspired.
The problem, of course, is that we do have a free press in this country and it could be difficult to mitigate the application of this warning. Colin Noir, a spokesman for the NRA, recently recorded a highly controversial video in which he satirically suggested the press should be banned from sharing the names and faces of mass shooters.
The comparison he was drawing, of course, was that the fear you might feel when you hear someone suggest limiting the press legally in such a way, is exactly what gun rights advocates feel when “common sense gun control” is discussed.
There are dangers to our liberties. This is the cold reality that we all, left and right, have to face. The press, as well as gun owners, have a moral requirement to be responsible with their liberties, and it is up to every individual to make that call.
Maintaining a free press is essential to our nation’s Constitutional integrity, so it’s up to journalists to consider the sick nature of angry young men seeking fame through unspeakable acts of violence and do their reporting accordingly. Let’s hope and pray they begin making smarter choices.
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