Don't Tell Me Their Names

Dear News Media,

Tell me all you want about the innocent victims that died in Colorado over the weekend. But I don’t want to know the names of the persons who showed up at YWAM or New Life with guns in their hands and murder in their hearts. I don’t want to know details of their troubled past. I don’t want to hear their former landlords, neighbors and teachers talk about how “quiet” they were.

I don’t want to see their faces on television.

Right after the shootings at Virginia Tech, your colleagues at NBC News found that the killer had mailed them what amounts to a “Press Kit” complete with video, photos and background information. It was clear that part of this nut’s motivation was to be a media star. And, in spite of pleas from numerous quarters, NBC obliged him. And all the other news organizations quickly followed suit.

At that time, many warned that giving a mass murderer that kind of publicity would inspire others. We are, after all, in an era in which everyone’s highest aspiration seems to be to “become famous”– a reality television star.  For example, Hugh Hewitt predicted that NBC’s decision would incentivize copycats. Columnist Jack Kelly wrote: “For the sake of a few dollars more, NBC has brought closer the day of the next public mass killing in America.”

So when a “troubled” kid shot a bunch of strangers in an Omaha shopping mall a few weeks ago, he left a note behind saying, “I will be (expletive) famous.” And he told a friend he “wanted to go out like a star.”

I wonder where he got such an idea?