It’s hard to fathom from a journalist’s point of view the notion of not providing all the pertinent information for any news story. However, I’ve come to believe we should never know the names or see the photos of accused shooters or mass murderers, particularly those who wreak their havoc in our schools.
We so often fulfill their goal when their name becomes immortalized, when we forever remember the Eric Harrises and the Dylan Klebolds of the world. This seems to be especially true of school shooters who strike at the most innocent of victims.
The gunman who entered an Atlanta, Georgia school on Tuesday is now famous. We’re lucky we’re not seeing the faces of countless young children who didn’t go home to their parents that night. Although the outcome was brighter than his plans, his motives were likely the same of countless others who have been more successful. They are so often seeking notoriety through mass executions in some warped sense of self.
Sometimes they claim to be striking out after being bullied, which is an issue schools seem to be dealing with more frequently and more fervently. But the desire still comes down to an “I’ll show them and make myself famous doing it” attitude.
We should know Tuesday’s shooter as a number only. Take away that privilege of hearing his name on the television, knowing that his mug is now familiar to everyone within earshot of a television, and let’s see if the tragedies don’t slow down.
Withholding of personal information on the shooter should have started with the Columbine massacre in April 1999. If we knew them simply as 99-01 and 99-02, maybe we wouldn’t have had many follow in their footsteps.
It’s just a thought from a heart that worries for the next group of children hovering in the corner of a classroom and listening to gunshots.
As a mystery writer I read stories of murder and mayhem looking for inspiration, but these school shootings spark little more than sadness.
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