I started making a point of not learning the names of these fecal stains a number of years back. I’m proud of the fact that I cannot name you any of the losers that shot up Columbine High School, or the piece of garbage that shot all those women in Montreal years previously. It takes effort to avoid learning their names sometimes, but it’s worth the effort.
Your Bonus Moment today is a moment of silence.
It’s a good policy for those of us who aren’t actually paid to study these people (psychologists, lawyers, criminologists and so on etc.). The ancients had a phrase for this — damnatio memoriae, I think – meaning, to wipe out of consciousness the fact that the offending party ever existed. You can find ancient coins on which the portraits of bad emperors (Nero, Commodus, etc.) have been defaced by scratching or chiseling, with the same intent. Tybunny is walking in the footsteps of the Romans here.
I understand the impulse for this cartoon, but the problem isn’t that the shooters wanted to be famous. The problem is they needed psychiatric help, and the US’s record on all forms of health care, including mental health care, is awful.
The Tuscon shooter who shot Giffords? He suffered from schizophrenia and had all the classic signs, but nobody who noticed did anything.
If we read about a tragedy – any tragedy – with then intent to learn, we can, maybe, take something good from it.
Neall and Will. I understand your thinking, and yes, decent psychiatric help was essential here, and in Tuscon, and in many other cases. But when you consider the rat-bag who shot John Lennon, and the minds at work in many other cases, you discover delusions of grandeur is a common thread in these situations. There’s a need to be “important” and on TV as a component of the build up to these deeds. It’s the least we can do to de-media-ize these monsters and not make one an anti-hero figure for the next one. It doesn’t hurt us to never mention their names. We can still read about the tragedy, and still get the helpless help without making killers famous people.
I’ve been trying to figure out the balance between the public’s need to know and making sure publicity doesn’t encourage publicity hounds, so I think a news organization could make a policy of not publishing the names of mass murderers. For one thing, that would often be kind to the families of the murderers, who are also victims.
The problem with that policy is if the murderer is known and on the loose–the public has to know who to watch out for. It’s tricky.
If the perpetrator is still at large, does it matter what his name is? The media could display an artist’s impression of him/her, with the label “Idiot 12”. Don’t use his real photo or real name.
Gotta disagree. If Phlemus Higbottom IV committed an awful crime and is on the loose, public safety calls for knowing his name and what he looks like.
Yeah. That’s the only time knowing the name is useful. So people can turn IN their brother, Ted Kozinski. On the run bad guys have to be plastered across our TV. That’s a separate thing. Once you’re on the run, you aren’t looking for publicity. My toon was about not giving in to what these slimeballs really want.
Yup. And once they’re caught, they could be referred to as something like Suspect IDNumber. Hmm. It would smell of memoryholing, but their names in the online accounts of the hunt for them could be replaced with an ID code also.
It does call for giving the government unprecedented power to control information.
David Brin has been proposing for a while that as part of the sentencing, there be a legal name change as part of the punishment. Thus MDC might have had his name changed to “Idiot 12” and would be referred to as that from then on, though people could still look up his old name online. Can’t do this until convicted though.
That would be a great policy. Except… for when certain popular numbers came up. Then you’d have a string of public mass murders as psychos competed for Idiot #42 and Idiot #69 and Idiot #420 and Idiot #666.
So we agree, but you should also ban notorious numbers such as these in addition to giving notoriety to names.
Brad, that makes me laugh. In a good way. It might work.
The link is here:
Not long ago, I was watching a vlog by some cosplayer. She proposed that people never pay to see Sony’s Spider-Man movies or spend money on related merchandise, so that Sony would stop making them and the rights would revert to Marvel, who could then make more crossovers a la The Avengers film.
By the time she uploaded her video to YouTube, the latest Spider-Man film had already been declared a hit.
For some reason, your post reminded me of her.
Regardless of the stance the media might take, I personally don’t know the name of the shooter, and am glad the coverage I did stumble across was focused on the victims and survivors. Entertainment Weekly posted an article that featured the Tweets of several of the people before and after the massacre. Broke my heart to read those messages.
Let’s face facts – the person who did this did it because it was a Batman movie, and because they have some desire to be likened to the villains in the franchise. I’m with Ty – let’s not give him the satisfaction.
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I’m not sure I believe that “un-personing” *anyone* is *ever* right. (I don’t even think God does that, actually.) Heck, the reason we punish them (at least, the *just* reason we punish them) is that, whether they like it or we like it or not, *they are a human being who has a moral responsibility to have done and to do better,* and they *deserve their punishment*. Even if (as I personally have no intrinsic problem with, though the way it’s handled is often not good) we must execute them in the name of justice, the person who is being killed for their crimes is still “John Smith” or such, and not a made-up name. (Apart from the question of whether or not legally changing someone’s name against their will is, in fact, truly changing their real name, which gets into existentialism/essentialism.)
(Not to even begin getting into how mental illness gets into all of it–and/or how free will may be interfered with by mental illness, and matters of justice relating to same.)
The too-long-didn’t-read-version: They’re a human being who done wrong, and should be treated as such, even if justice calls for their execution.
I don’t believe for a moment that any government should be legally removing people’s names (tempting though that is…). But I do believe in public shaming, and public decisions to act accordingly. I wasn’t asking for the government to act, only that citizens avoid saying his name.
Luckily for me, I don’t even -remember- his name.
You make a very good point, Ty. I’m going to make sure not to read articles about that guy in case his name eventually pops up.
I think it is a special case here because the killer’s connection to our comics culture. Actually, I haven’t been able to read any of the comics of the particular hero in question through since what happened… and it’s been a year and a half. I occasionally pick one up, start to read it, but then I get dizzy and tears fall.