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An orgy of mutual disgust now greets every mass shooting in America. Liberals despise conservatives who, they predict, will offer only insipid “thoughts and prayers” in the face of what they conceive to be preventable massacres. Conservatives scorn liberals who, they believe, will propose “feel good” gun measures that would have no effect on any mass shooting.

But there is something that we can try to prevent these horrific killings. It doesn’t require legislation. It won’t cost a penny. It doesn’t require compromising anyone’s gun rights, and it’s more concrete than “see something, say something.”

First, the scale of the problem. While overall gun deaths have been declining in recent years, mass shootings have been increasing. According to the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, the number of days separating mass shootings declined from an average of 200 between 1983 and 2011, to 64 since 2011. The five deadliest mass shootings in US history have occurred in the past 10 years. These shocking attacks have become so common that their locations and dates blur – Sutherland Springs, Blacksburg, Sandy Hook, Las Vegas, Orlando, Binghamton, Aurora, Dallas, Washington Navy Yard. The randomness of these massacres, and their quotidian locations – schools, movie theaters, concerts – amplify the horror.

Every possible cause is considered to explain the epidemic of cinematic violence: the overabundance of guns, violent video games and films, family decline, the waning influence of churches, inadequate mental health policies. Perhaps all of these contribute, and all require long-term social reforms.

But then there is this insight: Mass killings, like viruses, seem to be contagious. It isn’t news that behaviors are catching. Sociologists have long known that suicide, for example, prompts imitators, especially among the young. Researchers at Arizona State University have studied mass murders (particularly school shootings) and found that each new episode does inspire copy cats.

We also know that some of the mass shooters have expressed fascination with their predecessors. The Oregon shooter, for example, had written of another: “A man who was known by no one, is now known by everyone. … Seems the more people you kill, the more you’re in the limelight.”

The second Fort Hood shooter, weirdly enough, seemed to decry the attention paid to killers. He posted on Facebook: “These bastards have perfected their way of attacking by studying previous massacres to gain publicity and their minute of fame as a villain.” He then went on to commit a mass shooting himself. An Everett, Washington man was arrested on Wednesday after his grandparents reported to police that he was “learning from past shooters.”

The sick desire for fame – even when purchased through atrocity – seems to be at work in many of these cases. Would denying them the attention they seek diminish the attraction?

The proposal is straightforward. It’s outlined at Nonoteriety.com. News organizations and law enforcement officers should voluntarily limit the use of the names of mass killers. It’s not possible in the Internet era to keep the names secret, but news organizations can dramatically reduce the attention a killer receives. There is no need, for example, for cable news to feature images of the accused, nor to repeat his name dozens of times within 24 hours. Newspapers should not publish the manifestos of diseased minds. Investigators can comb through his social media rants, but the media should shun them. TV channels may get ratings by repeating the grievances of killers, but they are also providing a platform that other borderline personalities may find irresistible.

We expect our presidents to serve as national grief counselors in these moments. But it’s just possible that this attention is also putting too much power into the hands of mass killers. While a presidential visit may comfort the grieving, is it worth it if it also gratifies the murderer’s rage for attention – and spurs some future attention seeking monster?

Some homicidal types are motivated by political objectives. Of the 69 mass shootings since Columbine High School, four were committed by Islamic extremists, and others (the Sikh temple, Charleston) by racists. But the overwhelming majority were the work of men whose motivations probably include a lust for fame.

Perhaps this is wrong. Perhaps denying mass killers the attention they seek won’t have any effect on this epidemic of violence. But what would be lost by trying?

 

There are 21 comments.

  1. Seawriter Member

    Just arm the teachers in the schools. Keep the arms concealed.

    School shooting would stop. Especially after a teacher shoots some goblin before he can mow down any innocents. The media would either ignore the shooting completely after that outcome (much as they did with the church shooting in Texas after it turned out a good guy with a gun stopped the shooter) or they would make a hero of the teacher (which would take the media oxygen out the story for the shooters). Either way the shooter would get no publicity.

    • #1
    • February 15, 2018, at 2:29 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  2. Ontheleftcoast Inactive

    Mona Charen:Perhaps this is wrong. Perhaps denying mass killers the attention they seek won’t have any effect on this epidemic of violence. But what would be lost by trying?

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    Just arm the teachers in the schools. Keep the arms concealed.

    As Glenn Reynolds is wont to say, “embrace the healing power of ‘and.'”

    • #2
    • February 15, 2018, at 2:51 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  3. Seawriter Member

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):

    Mona Charen:Perhaps this is wrong. Perhaps denying mass killers the attention they seek won’t have any effect on this epidemic of violence. But what would be lost by trying?

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    Just arm the teachers in the schools. Keep the arms concealed.

    As Glenn Reynolds is wont to say, “embrace the healing power of ‘and.’”

    Arming the teachers would deny mass killers the attention they seek. It would force the media to ignore the story or make the teacher the hero (leaving the shooter in the role of the dupe). Given the media’s propensity not to show guns in a positive way they would ignore the story, depriving the shooter of attention sought. It would save kids, too.

    • #3
    • February 15, 2018, at 3:07 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  4. Rick Poach Inactive

    Ms. Charen, with how partisan the media is, and with how with every atrocity now begins a sprint by political vultures to frame the atrocity to their advantage, I’m afraid that the name genie is not going back in the bottle. Even though I appreciate the logic that brought you to your conclusion.

    I say:

    1. Allow school officials to carry on premises.
    2. Post their most impressive shot groupings at the school’s parking lot entrance.

    I’m not joking.

    • #4
    • February 15, 2018, at 3:12 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  5. Basil Fawlty Member

    Mona Charen: Perhaps this is wrong. Perhaps denying mass killers the attention they seek won’t have any effect on this epidemic of violence. But what would be lost by trying?

    Information about the mass killers?

    • #5
    • February 15, 2018, at 3:24 PM PST
    • Like
  6. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    Back in the 1990s, I read the distinction between serial killers and mass murderers was the serial killer got satisfaction from continuing to kill while the mass murderer desired a notorious death. The body count was supposed to be used by the murderer as a public reproach to whoever he blamed for his sorry life — “see what you made me do.” While the latest killer clearly planned to escape alive, the recommendation to minimize publicity makes sense across types of mass murderers.

    Meanwhile, what about headlining the heroes who prevent mass murders? See the grandmother in WA.

    • #6
    • February 15, 2018, at 3:42 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  7. George Townsend Inactive

    Mona Charen: Perhaps this is wrong. Perhaps denying mass killers the attention they seek won’t have any effect on this epidemic of violence. But what would be lost by trying?

    Nothing. Let’s try it. Good piece, Mona!

    • #7
    • February 15, 2018, at 4:04 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  8. ToryWarWriter Thatcher

    Yes! More of this. All of this.

    • #8
    • February 15, 2018, at 4:53 PM PST
    • 1 like
  9. Ontheleftcoast Inactive

    Rick Poach (View Comment):

    1. Post their most impressive shot groupings at the school’s parking lot entrance.

    Love the idea but I think the ruling snowflakes might find the sight, er, triggering.

    • #9
    • February 15, 2018, at 5:45 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  10. Ray Gunner Coolidge

    We could come at this the other way. Rather than minimize the exposure of mass shooters, maximize it.

    The trick would be to get guys like Jeff Zucker, Dean Baquet, Jimmy Kimmel, and Steven Colbert to treat mass shooters as if they were Republican politicians.

    Imagine it. If every mass shooter reliably got the same level of ceaseless, berating, ridiculing coverage from these guys as the average Republican politician does, mass shootings would stop overnight.

    • #10
    • February 15, 2018, at 5:47 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  11. Ontheleftcoast Inactive

    Mona Charen: The proposal is straightforward. It’s outlined at Nonoteriety.com. News organizations and law enforcement officers should voluntarily limit the use of the names of mass killers.

    Absolutely true. Just the way news organizations should to not be Democrat operatives with bylines. LEOs could do it, but there would have to be harsh penalties for ones who violate such a policy.

    Journalistic ethics… an oxymoron, even if the most respected legacy media weren’t on board with gun confiscation; keepin’ up the skeer on guns is a means to that end.

    Legally, wouldn’t it be prior restraint?

    It’s not possible in the Internet era to keep the names secret, but news organizations can dramatically reduce the attention a killer receives. There is no need, for example, for cable news to feature images of the accused, nor to repeat his name dozens of times within 24 hours. Newspapers should not publish the manifestos of diseased minds.

    Investigators can comb through his social media rants, but the media should shun them. TV channels may get ratings by repeating the grievances of killers, but they are also providing a platform that other borderline personalities may find irresistible.

    One thing the all seeing censors at Facebook, Google and Twitter etc. might be able to do is limit the propagation of mention of these killers. So for now, in addition to going after conservatives, they could do what @monacharen is suggesting, for their businesses anyway. However, it does’t suit the political agenda of Twitter, Facebook, or Google, so…

    Mona’s proposal depends on “voluntarily” and “ought” – which depend on morality and mores that the Left deliberately set out to destroy.

    • #11
    • February 15, 2018, at 6:04 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  12. OmegaPaladin Moderator

    I have a counter-proposal. Damnation of Memory.

    Mass shooters are renamed “Worthless” followed by a hexadecimal code. Their former names are no longer used – they are human waste, and treated as such.

    • #12
    • February 15, 2018, at 6:21 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  13. Trink Coolidge

    Mona Charen: Perhaps denying mass killers the attention they seek won’t have any effect on this epidemic of violence. But what would be lost by trying?

    AMEN!!! My husband and I have said this for years! It’s insanity to give them the fame they crave!

    • #13
    • February 15, 2018, at 8:30 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  14. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    Good idea, but impossible. Get the Almighty Press to NOT report on something? Not going to happen. I also advocate the press giving NO publicity to any political rally. KKK having a rally? No mention whatsoever in the press. No mention, no bystanders, no publicity, organization goes away. No publicity for any March on Washington. No publicity for Westboro Baptist Church.

    • #14
    • February 15, 2018, at 9:13 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  15. Rick Poach Inactive

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):
    I have a counter-proposal. Damnation of Memory.

    Mass shooters are renamed “Worthless” followed by a hexadecimal code. Their former names are no longer used – they are human waste, and treated as such.

    I like this too.

    • #15
    • February 16, 2018, at 7:05 AM PST
    • Like
  16. Rick Poach Inactive

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):

    Rick Poach (View Comment):

    1. Post their most impressive shot groupings at the school’s parking lot entrance.

    Love the idea but I think the ruling snowflakes might find the sight, er, triggering.

    I’m sure any school implementing this (it would have to start with a private or charter) would immediately lose 60-80% enrollment from lefties and then would be flooded with new applications by 150-300% that number of righties.

    • #16
    • February 16, 2018, at 7:07 AM PST
    • Like
  17. Leslie Watkins Member

    I really like this idea. But I also think there’s lots of little devils lurking in the details.

    • #17
    • February 16, 2018, at 10:22 AM PST
    • Like
  18. Henry Castaigne Member

    Rick Poach (View Comment):

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):
    I have a counter-proposal. Damnation of Memory.

    Mass shooters are renamed “Worthless” followed by a hexadecimal code. Their former names are no longer used – they are human waste, and treated as such.

    I like this too.

    Omega Paladin I think this is absolutely brilliant.

    Mona is absolutely on to something but I now realize that there is a fatal flaw in her plan. She is telling people, not to do something instead of doing something. Humans gravitate towards doing things even if doing things make things worse. In your formulation, you let people express their visceral disgust and virtue signal and all that. Your idea is much more parrarel with how human nature works.

    • #18
    • February 16, 2018, at 11:08 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  19. Profile Photo Member

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    Just arm the teachers in the schools. Keep the arms concealed.

    School shooting would stop. Especially after a teacher shoots some goblin before he can mow down any innocents. The media would either ignore the shooting completely after that outcome (much as they did with the church shooting in Texas after it turned out a good guy with a gun stopped the shooter) or they would make a hero of the teacher (which would take the media oxygen out the story for the shooters). Either way the shooter would get no publicity.

    Then who will watch the fraction of teachers who are psycho?

    • #19
    • February 17, 2018, at 7:52 PM PST
    • Like
  20. OmegaPaladin Moderator

    mesulkanen (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    Just arm the teachers in the schools. Keep the arms concealed.

    School shooting would stop. Especially after a teacher shoots some goblin before he can mow down any innocents. The media would either ignore the shooting completely after that outcome (much as they did with the church shooting in Texas after it turned out a good guy with a gun stopped the shooter) or they would make a hero of the teacher (which would take the media oxygen out the story for the shooters). Either way the shooter would get no publicity.

    Then who will watch the fraction of teachers who are psycho?

    The other teachers, obviously. Not every school mass shooter is a student.

    Besides, if a teacher is psycho, they will bring a weapon to hurt people regardless of what the rule is. Remember, they are psycho and plotting murder.

    • #20
    • February 18, 2018, at 11:56 PM PST
    • Like
  21. Bishop Wash Member

    I saw on Twitter this afternoon that the Daily Wire will no longer publish the names or photographs of mass shooters.

    • #21
    • February 19, 2018, at 3:23 PM PST
    • Like