We wrote about sadness. Who would not feel this sadness? Those who are raising or have raised children feel it keenly. We wrote about our outrage. We talked in disparaging terms about the madmen. We flashed their images, their history and their methods from coast to coast on network and cable news programs and news web sites. As a nation we asked why.
My fear today is for those that did not feel the sadness or outrage. Across our world lie many shattered souls, individuals holding with shaking hands to a glimmer of sanity. Waking in the morning they see visions of killing and revenge. They reflect on their lives spent in pain and humiliation. Maybe the humiliation is self generated and maybe it is exogenous in its origin. Whatever its source it is an adumbrant presence in their consciousness. Our friend Enemy of the Republic wrote recently about our love affair with the sociopath. I encourage you to read her thoughts and the thoughts of her readers. If we did not ask ourselves how to protect our children it would be both ignorant and slovenly. Some wish the police were better equipped to deal with the emergencies. Some hope for total school security. Many, as they always do, entertain notions of banning guns, as though it were as simple as buttering toast in the morning. Those that see the folly of banning guns as an impossible process wish for an armed community that guns down the madmen before they kill us, raising the specter of role reversal in the tick of a clock.
For my part this morning I am focused on the communication aspect of this problem, though I freely admit to its being akin to studying water molecules at the ocean’s surface. Still, when I read the cable news network web sites I was met time after time with the photo of the killers. Below the photo was the story of the crime, complete with mental history or lack thereof, the modus of operation for the crime, the speculation of the experts, the count of the dead and all of the other details with which we are emotionally broadsided. Predominant in all the stories is the outline of the killer and his life. It is a virtual news celebration of the sociopath.
Somewhere in our world the individuals I described above, the ones that cling with tenacity to their sanity while simultaneously staying in touch with their anger read also. They read and internalize it with their own struggle. A copy cat is born.
Have we glamorized these madmen to the point that those that walk the edge make the mistake of confusing ill-gained notoriety with self importance? The question poised at the edge of the frontal lobe of the disturbed turned crisply into the answer, “I can do it better than that, and I will prove it.”
I have no idea if this is correct or blind wandering. I am an architect by training, not a brain examiner with skills. However, I am normally rational to the point of hoping that some solutions do not require certified brain sleuths. Is it not simple enough to understand that it just might be irresponsible to paste the madman’s photo and life story across every broadcast and news web page in
Could we spend more communication resources more responsibly on preventing the madman from walking into the trap of ill-gained notoriety? I believe that if they were not celebrated, we might make a start. I know the opposing argument already. It goes something like this, “We are only reporting the news, it was someone else that did these horrible things, and we are only reporting the news.” It’s a decent argument.
It falls short for me however. The fact is that FOX, CNN, MSNBC, ABC and all the other acronyms are competing for our dollars and viewer ratings.
We reward them by pulling our chair up closer to learn all about the mystery madman that killed innocent children, falsely believing that this is the only injured and angry human with this capability and thank goodness now they are gone. Perhaps we should pull our chairs back in an act of defiance, bringing the power of the dollar to bear on the corner executive that silently hopes for yet another killing on this day because the news is slow?
I am not tardy in taking my own limited action. I have written letters and emails to the broadcasters asking them to please quit glorifying madmen for a national audience. I encourage the same of all Americans. Let’s use our communication resources to reach out to the shadowy figures of mayhem, the sociopath that is confused about personal glory and how to best achieve it. Can we help the sociopaths that express their anger and harbor a desire to kill become less confused about the concept of personal honor and glory? They walk among us all and they listen to the news. They surface on some of the blogs we read, expressing statements of death and murder. They are asking for help. Can we give help in both a personal and national way? I believe we can, but we must first begin to purge from our society the brewing confusion between what honor and glory mean and what murder of the innocent and insanity mean. It is too fine a distinction for the many that struggle with their madness. Is it because we have moved the ends of the yardstick of definitions too close together?