So last night I sat down with my father and step-mother and brought up the subject of the recent grade school shootings on the east coast. I was met with, “I don't want to hear about it,” from my step-mother. I said, “I just heard that somebody had shot a bunch of kids.” I was met with the equivalent of “shut up!” Then my step-mother went on to say that there would be media coverage all over the place glorifying the idiots that perpetrated this gruesome atrocity.
I was initially taken aback. I have a 5 year old in grade school so this subject hits close to home. I generally ignore these as fruitless fears because the world and it's many pitfalls are beyond my control. Emotionally, I simply need to process things and it's helpful if the madness in my cranial cavity is not left to its own ends, thus I speak to people. So, for the being pissed portion of this post, I'm a bit annoyed at people's lack of emotional sensitivity.
Yet, might my step-mother's point about the glorification of the villians have merit? Should we try and delete these sort of things from the media, from our consciousness? The risks are apparent but the correct choice is not. In the case of deleting this sort of thing from the news or from historical record we risk mistakes like those made by Germany in the second world war. In recognizing them we risk providing motivation. Perhaps the motivation is not as obvious as I think it is so I will explain: People simply desire, in many cases, to be understood. They desire to communicate and be heard. They want the world to know that they exist. This is one motivation that can be seen as obvious (however undesirable the circumstance) in the case of the Connecticut incident. There may be other factors, but when we weight historical education against the glorification of villainy this is enough to get a start.
So, what if Adolf Hitler was forgotten? Are we really at risk of repeating the “Final Solution” situation? Is lack of this historical lesson likely to increase the instances of genocide? Contrarily, is the large scale attention that villains such as Hitler gain from their infamous acts a possible motivation for others to commit similar acts? While the more recent events are much smaller scale the concept is similar. Moreover, it is not unlikely that the ideas which led the shooters in these more isolated incidents were influenced by a desire for exposure and recognition no-matter the moral complications.
Is it realistic to think we can prevent small scale acts of destruction? We ought not worry about every little nook of human depravity, but it seems irresponsible to ignore the possibility of taking corrective or preventative action.The question seems to be, is the weight of the possibility of motivating future tragedies enough to justify the censorship of this sort of news? No, but in a world where it is increasingly difficult to stand out due to the sheer volume of availability creative expression it seems that the obsessive desire to be noticed might be an increasing problem. I am speculating a bit but it looks like there are large scale factors which might contribute to what I must simply call desperate acts of evil.
We all remember the Columbine shootings, yes? Could this massacre be cited as an instance which might have motivated the shooters in Connecticut? Yes. The earlier incident may have played a large role in influencing the decision process of the latter. So can we say that there were incidents prior to Columbine that might have served to motivate or dissuade the Columbine shooters? Again, yes. There was a shooting on a college campus. Indeed, people have killed each other needlessly for as long as written history. It seems that the information has little to do with motivating the killer. If one wishes to kill, they need no justification, if they desire justification they can make it up without looking to others for an example. It would seem now that there is no reason to hide the villainy.
So why is there a desire to stop this sort of thing from being aired? I would submit that it is the guilt felt by those who are not responsible. They feel that because the previous acts can be used as a motivation that the exposure these acts receive is somehow connected to those who condone it. In other words, they simply crave to be absolutely non-responsible for anything which might be connected to the gruesome acts.