When the most recent mass murder occurred, I got the usual calls from the media networks - television and radio - to come and talk about the mass murderer and why he did what he did. I gave my opinion on the causes including psychopathy, lack of empathy, anger toward society, attachment disorder in his early years, and a childhood likely influenced by ultraviolent movies, negative fantasy and role-playing games, and excessively violent video games. And I spoke of the media attention that also encourages mass murder as a way to express rage and become famous at the same time. I did television and radio from daybreak to bedtime for three days straight.
I got my usual hate mail from a number of video gamers who don't get that what I am talking about is young children growing up in a world with far too much time spent in activities which are not of the most positive and wholesome variety; they think I am claiming all gamers will become psychopaths and killers. Not what I am saying at all, but some tend to be very sensitive about anyone who postulates that violent video games just might not be the best past time for our children, especially those with psychological issues.
But, then, there were those who pointed out that as part of the media giving the mass murderer all that attention, I was part of the problem. I had to admit they had a point. I have always avoided using the killer's name and been careful to say nothing nice about him. I have attempted to educate the public about the psychology and development of mass murderers, hoping to effect change in parenting of the future. But, I have to say, I always kind of felt like I wanted to go home and take a shower after talking about the killer. I did think I was contributing to some extent to his fame and I didn't like the feeling.
I finally decided I should step up the plate and take a stand. I will no longer do media interviews that focus on a specific mass murderer and give him the glory he wants. If parents need to do a better job of parenting, I need to do a better job of commentating.
So when FOX News Channel called yesterday, I just said, "No."
This morning the show went on without me. And when more television and radio producers called me throughout the day, I told them, "No." There was a stunned silence; us media folks know that refusing to do a show does not inspire producers to call you back and can be a career killer. Some people have written me saying I should continue because I will just be replaced anyway with someone who will say the mass murderer's name and won't explain what needs to be done to prevent mass murder in the future. They are probably right, that someone else will simply take my place, but, along with sleeping better at night, I hope that another media commentator or show host will stand up and just say "NO!" as well. And then another. Maybe a few years from now, no mass murderer will get his photo or his name or any details of his crime or life history in any media forum at all.
I may be unrealistic about such change, but I can hope, can't I?
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