The media is culpable for tragedies like the one in Charleston this week. The killers are responsible for their actions, but the media knowingly plays a significant role in causing these tragedies. And, they have the power to stop them from happening.
Take four high profile cases: Dylann Roof (Charleston), Adam Lanza (Sandy Hook), Seung-Hui Cho (VA Tech), and Jared Loughner (Giffords shooting). We know they have five things in common.
I. Access to guns. Let’s start here, since the media’s go-to theory is that gun control will solve the problem. Access may be a contributing factor, but to believe it plays a major role, we must accept at least three unrealistic premises:
1) Means and the motive are the same thing. Normal people aren’t overwhelmed with uncontrollable urges to kill simply because they could. If that were so, why don’t scarves compel you to strangle, or matches insist you commit arson?
2) A person determined to have a gun would be deterred by gun control. If someone is intent on using a gun to kill, why would they be too afraid to commit a far less serious crime, like stealing or illegally buying one?
3) If a gun couldn’t be had, these individuals would abandon their plans of mass murder. Even the media admits these incidents are months or years in the making. If they couldn’t access guns, they would just plan it differently.
II. Age. These individuals are young, usually in their early 20s. It’s one of the most puzzling things about them: they have their lives before them, and they throw it all away. Maybe they don’t understand “this too shall pass”. Their troubles seem eternal. Or maybe experience hasn’t yet taught them compassionate.
III. Failure and Rage. They are/were failures in some way, and that infuriated them. They were disappointed in life, angry about the failure they experienced. So angry that they felt justified hurting innocent people.
IV. Isolated loners. These guys were not popular. Maybe they were picked on. They had no concerned friends to challenge them or give them a reality check. No one noticed them at all.
Without friends, jobs, or hobbies to occupy them, they spend months and years concocting elaborate, terrible crimes.
V. Motive. This is the key and it’s where the media is complicit. These individuals share the same motive: they want to be Important. They’re nobodies who want to be Somebody and what is an angry failure going to do with that? They don’t have the brains or talent to achieve anything – at least they don’t think so. So they turn to the easy way: notoriety.
The media will gladly bestow notoriety on anyone who will commit a terrible deed, with the justification that it’s negative coverage. As if the killers cared! It’s attention! The media will make them important. Everyone will know who they are.