Tuesday, October 03, 2006


I find it interesting and disturbing that when the BBC asks its readers How to Stop School Shootings (in response to the PA Amish killings), virtually all of the responses focus on gun control.

I agree that the U.S. prediliction for guns is a big piece of the puzzle. But what no one seems to acknowledge is that in so many of these cases, the killers turn the guns on themselves. That suggests to me that these acts are about desperate attention seeking, and like more straightforward forms of suicides, when covered by the press in ad nauseum, this post-mortem attention encourages similar acts.

The public has our Right To Know, but i'm not sure we always need to know about things moments after they happen. My First Amendment Fundamentalist status notwithstanding, I propose press organizations voluntarily (no gov't compulsion involved here) simply stop covering school shootings on a breaking news basis. Don't descend en masse, and don't take satellite feeds. Maybe leave it to the local old-fashioned print media to send a few reporters out. Leave the cameras behind. Then, in a few days or a week, put it on page 2 as a post-event analysis. Or don't cover it at all. It seems plain that all that media doesn't prevent these things from happening, and I really think it may be part of what prompts others to act similarly. There are plenty of violent events that don't get any coverage. Why shouldn't school shootings be the same way?

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