Todd Hartley: I’m With Stupid
Aspen CO Colorado
I spent last weekend, as I know so many of you did, in shock and disbelief, sick to my stomach about the murders in Newtown, Conn. I’m always sickened by any sort of mass killing, but this one hit particularly close to home. Fairfield County, where Newtown is located, is the county in which I grew up, and I have a son about the same age as the poor children who were gunned down in the attack.
I won’t pretend to know the answers to what should be done to make us safer, but I think starting the conversation about gun control and better ways to treat the mentally ill is a good place to begin. Hopefully, some progress can be made on both fronts and something worthwhile will come from this senseless tragedy.
But if I could make one request, one Christmas wish, it would be to ask all the media outlets in America to stop making celebrities out of killers. Please, please, please, from the bottom of my heart, I’m begging you to take a different approach to your coverage of these events. I know you’re just trying to feed America’s morbid and insatiable curiosity, but I truly believe you’re contributing to the problem.
Why do we need to know Adam Lanza’s name and what he looks like? I think any time something like this happens, CNN, Fox News and all the other news channels and websites should just say something like, “Some asshole shot 12 people in a movie theater,” or “Some prick opened fire in a mall today.” If they don’t feel right using those words, they can just refer to the asshole or prick as “the perpetrator.” Who cares what his name is?
Do you remember the names Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold? Of course you do. They were the two little scumbags behind the murders at Columbine High School. I never wanted to know their names, and I truly wish I could banish them from my mind, but the media did such a great job of making sure we all knew who they were and what they looked like that I’m sure I’ll never forget, and that’s exactly what those jerks wanted.
In the wake of the Columbine tragedy, we learned that part of Harris and Klebold’s motivation was that they wanted to be famous, or at least infamous. Well, they are. Everyone in America learned their names thanks to the media, and now they have entries on Wikipedia and Biography.com and countless other sites. Why have we given them that honor?
There are a lot of deranged people in America who think nothing of murdering others if it will get them noticed, and their lives are so awful that they consider dying a small price to pay for everlasting notoriety.
In fact, you can rest assured there’s some douche bag out there right now who’s figuring out how to do something even worse than Lanza did just so people will hear about him. If he knew no one would ever know his name or see his face, he might not be so gung-ho about killing people. If all the media’s attention were focused on the victims, maybe being the perpetrator wouldn’t seem so appealing.
I’m not saying media outlets shouldn’t delve into the killers’ motivations or how they went about procuring weapons and orchestrating their attacks, but that can easily be done without mentioning the killers by name or splashing their pictures all over TV and the Internet.
I don’t know. Maybe I’m being naïve. Maybe not mentioning the killers’ names won’t make any difference. It’s possible that the assholes out there are motivated solely by a desire to inflict pain on others and that fame has nothing to do with it. I don’t think that’s the case, but I certainly could be wrong.
At the very least, though, if we aren’t all forced to know who the killers are, I won’t have to have names like Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and Adam Lanza and James Holmes and Timothy McVeigh stuck in my head, and I won’t have to see their evil, smirking faces every time I surf the Internet.
Because I don’t know about you, but as sick as I felt last weekend, I get every bit as ill all over again each time I see a picture of that freaking asshole who decided that since his life sucked, it gave him the right to shoot a bunch of innocent kids.
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For the past five-plus years I have sat in a big chair in a small office on Hyman Avenue watching life in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley play out in front of me.