Thursday, May 29, 2014

Deincentivizing Mass Murder

Conor Friedersdorf  at The Atlantic may not have a sure fire way to stop mass murders.  But his idea may erode the perverse allure that it has for those who do it.

Traditional serial killers differ from mass murderers in one sense.  Serial killers work in the dark over time.  The media and nation knew their deeds, but not their name.  When finally caught, they turn out to be much more pathetic than the anonymous image imagined.  Mass murderers in the new century prefer to go out, as the song says, in a blaze of glory.  One vast and violent act so that their name may be written across the sky (or the internet.)  They expect to be defined by their ghastly acts and violent death.

The latest killer mistakenly thought this was not cruel and cowardly, but being an "alpha male."

Friedersdorf proposes that the media impose a self-discipline on itself that it has already done in other fields.  Outlets do not publish the names of rape victims, for instance.  They also stopped releasing manifestos from the Unabomber during his domestic terrorism rampage.  Sporting event coverage always turns its cameras away from streakers.  So why not refuse to release the names or manifestos of mass murderers.

In fact, these killers could be called narcissism terrorists.  They have an agenda, to put their name on the historical record through death and mayhem.  Perceived imbalance in society, namely that no one pays attention to them, drives their actions.  Expectation of attention motivates them.

So why not just stop going on and on about them; deny them their posthumous place in the sun.

Friedersdorf does not propose to make information a "state secret."  Just keep their attention seeking drivel and their names out of the media, at least for a while.  Hopefully, this would undercut their absurd motivations for visiting such cruelty on their fellow man.

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