Tag Archives: school shootings

Let’s All Demand Killer’s Names Not Be Published

Here is something we all could do to make these horrific multiple murders less likely to happen:

Let’s not publish killers’ names or pictures.

Let’s all agree. Sign petitions. Make demands. Tell the New York Times and Huffington Post and Washington Post and Los Angeles Times, and all the newspapers, all the new channels, all the online news, all the bloggers:

Let’s not publish killers’ names or pictures. 

This could happen. There is precedent for it: Media don’t publish names or pictures of rape victims. Thank God for that. And it was done by general agreement, and there is no downside; everybody wins. Free press isn’t compromised when it’s a voluntary restraint. So too, media could agree not to publish the names or pictures of these killers. We don’t have to pass a law about it (although we ought to). We just have to make it the ethical norm.

Let me be clear: I am no way suggesting that this idea replace the need for better laws on guns, or that this is instead of better laws on guns. I don’t want to be guilty of suggesting we outlaw costumes in theaters instead of guns. This would be in addition to that. And this, unlike gun laws, is something concrete that we can do. We could be effective.,

All we really have to do is agree, enough of us, vocally enough, on this simple rule:

Let’s not publish killers’ names or pictures. 

What we’d get from that is a reasonable chance to change the equation the next time some sick person gets the impulse. Obviously nobody knows what strange combination of factors converge as a person commits these horrific acts; but there’s an obvious possibility that one of the influencers is getting worldwide attention, being famous, being a celebrity.

We all know the strange power and attraction of celebrity. And we can all guess how that influences the killers.

With some of these killers, it’s not just 15 minutes of fame; it’s forever. There are serial killers who are better known in our society than some great leaders.

And the attention on serial killers. Think of some huge box office moves focusing on serial killers. Think of the network television series focusing on serial killers. Now think of what’s in the mind of the next person who might be capable of committing a monstrosity like last week. What’s the chance that the attention, the celebrity, the “everybody knows my name” factor mixes into the concoction of self pity, rage, and revenge that has them grab a gun.

We could change that part of the equation, all of us, by getting together and insisting:

Let’s not publish killers’ names or pictures. 

So what do we do? We join up. We start saying it. I’ve never been a movement kind of a person, so I don’t know how we get going; but maybe you do. Where to we start the petition? How do we organize it? If you think it’s a good idea, then help me get going on this.

And what about a hashtag? #nofame4killers is the best I can come up with. Can we do better?