Some anonymous internet jerk posted a picture of Morgan Freeman with a quote from someone else about the cause of the Newtown school shootings. There is a running joke that anything attributed to Morgan Freeman sounds true. This is the picture along with the quote. (picture caption mine)
“You want to know why. This may sound cynical, but here’s why. It’s because of the way the media reports it. Flip on the news and watch how we treat the Batman theater shooter and the Oregon mall shooter like celebrities. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris are household names, but do you know the name of a single *victim* of Columbine? Disturbed people who would otherwise just off themselves in their basements see the news and want to top it by doing something worse, and going out in a memorable way. Why a grade school? Why children? Because he’ll be remembered as a horrible monster, instead of a sad nobody.
CNN’s article says that if the body count “holds up”, this will rank as the second deadliest shooting behind Virginia Tech, as if statistics somehow make one shooting worse than another. Then they post a video interview of third-graders for all the details of what they saw and heard while the shootings were happening. Fox News has plastered the killer’s face on all their reports for hours. Any articles or news stories yet that focus on the victims and ignore the killer’s identity? None that I’ve seen yet. Because they don’t sell. So congratulations, sensationalist media, you’ve just lit the fire for someone to top this and knock off a day care center or a maternity ward next.
You can help by forgetting you ever read this man’s name, and remembering the name of at least one victim. You can help by donating to mental health research instead of pointing to gun control as the problem. You can help by turning off the news.”
Even though it is in extreme poor taste to make and edit this quote about a mass shooting and attribute it jokingly to Morgan Freeman, the quote itself may have something to say about the cause of the shootings. I don’t agree with the entire quote, it has a few good points about some of the possible causes.
The usual suspects have begun their speculation about how God could have stopped the tragedy, but he didn’t because the god they describe is spiteful. Apparently, he never forgets a slight. The accusatory fingers are already flying pointing to secularism from the usual god-bots. Bryan Fischer is quite the fount of religious nonsense. (Don’t click on the link. Save yourself a headache and your keyboard too.)
Fischer said that God could have protected the victims of this massacre, but didn’t because “God is not going to go where he is not wanted” and so if school administrators really want to protect students, they will start every school day with prayer:
The Friendly Atheist already did a takedown of this garbage.
Since Columbine, there have been dozens of mass shootings in America. For all the talk that God was kicked out of our schools and that God won’t go where he’s not wanted, it seems appropriate to mention that several of the shootings occurred at religious schools or places of worship
There have been more rational posts about the possible causes too. Like this one at Pharyngula discussing more rational gun laws or this one at Ashley Miller’s blog by Kate Donovan about tying the shootings to assumptions about mental illness. If it hasn’t been said already, I’m a little tired of the speculation about quietness or social awkwardness as some sort of explanation of what would cause something like this. My teenage son is probably tired of hearing about violence in video games triggering this behavior as well. I don’t think you are going to find a simple or single cause to mass shootings or a single or simple solution to them either.
Despite the stereotyping and wild speculation that always happens after a shocking event like this, a rational discussion on what causes these things is long overdue. If we could identify some of the causes, we could start making sure these tragedies never happen again. Even stopping a few of them would be worth it. Of course Greta Christina put it better…
But when terrible tragedies happen, we use our grief, and our rage, and our shock, to drive us to action.
That is not the worst of us. It is the best.
On that note, I like every other reasonable and rational person don’t ever want to see another innocent person’s life wasted, so I would like to contribute something to the discussion. Like the quote misattributed to Morgan Freeman says, the mainstream media like Fox News plastered the killer’s face on their channel for hours. Mass murderers achieve infamy with brutally violent acts. You can’t really rely on individual media outlets to police themselves, and not sensationalize the killer. Ratings are what keep them in business. So yes, people need to show their disapproval of media profiteering that goes beyond journalism by writing letters, emails, blogs. Perhaps, there needs to be a law that the media cannot show any identifying information, pictures, or videos about mass murderers. If it could prevent just one of these tragedies it would be worth it. They can leave out a few of the gory details, and still tell the story.
We don’t need to see the face or know the name of the murderer in order to discuss the story. When will we have enough of the fascination with the identity of mass shooters? Chronicling their stories is ghoulish. Of course, I would much rather instead see more stories about the victims, survivors, and heroes than a glassy-eyed wannabe villain. Stop feeding the real trolls.