April 22nd, 2007

Atrocity exhibitionists…

There’s much to inspire disgust in the Virginia Tech massacre – obviously the hideous acts and resulting toll of dead, injured, terrified, bereaved and traumatised but also the excess of righteous hindsight about what should have been done and the gun lobby arguing for guns on campus and that armed self defence would have prevented the tragedy [see New York Times]. But there is more to be disgusted about…

The other disgusting thing was the media handling of the killer’s video and photo package. I admit I did look at some of the material, and I think I learnt something about this sad guy’s alienation and bitterness. But I still think none of it should have been shown. Nothing.

But with a package of highly voyeuristic value, the TV networks couldn’t resist this great audience magnet, and so came up with self-serving justifications for showing it: see NBC’s explanation claiming it was a ‘bad day at the office’ deciding what to do (or rather how to pull it off)… and the BBC’s feeble justification which ignores the main reasons for not showing this stuff… … which are:

1. That it provides a huge posthumous reward to the killer which he should have been denied on principle. He should not have got his way even if too dead to realise because others, including those harmed do see his reward – and now YouTube etc will guarantee he is seen forever, which in words often heard affectionately at funerals “is what he would have wanted”;

2. It signals to other potentially psychopathic losers and loners that fame, notoriety, immortality and specious power are there for the taking and that these might be worth more than your life and many others – just get the strutting Hollywood poses right, get some ‘bad-ass’ guns from your corner shop, pour out your teen angst and then start the killing – once you’ve put together and mailed the multi-media package of course – and while you are at it, why not try to beat Cho’s record?

I can barely believe the cynicism: NBC should have handed the whole lot over to the police and left it that, BBC should have known better – free speech and freedom of information is not applicable here. My graphic attempts ridicule and contempt – the right approach to these images short of never displaying them… (with apologies to Banksy [gallery] and thanks to Microsoft’s confused animal clip art).

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