In the wake of June 17’s massacre in Charleston, South Carolina, I hope that this letter gains some form of recognition. I would like to comment on the publicity and media attention of situations like this and its hazardous affects on the future.
Let me preface this saying it is unfortunate I even have to compare this to so many other similar tragedies—Columbine, Oklahoma City, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook to name a few—but that seems to be the world we live in today; President Obama himself recently stated that he has had to “make statements like this too many times”. But this should not be the world we accept.
It has become painfully commonplace for the press to immediately blame these tragedies on mundane topics debated ad nauseam, such as the need to improve mental healthcare policy and implement a stricter construction of the Second Amendment. While these shootings may occur because of mentally ill individuals’ access to firearms, I believe the root of these mass-murders is the attention the media gives to the perpetrator. Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, Timothy McVeigh, Seung Hui Cho, Adam Lanza, and most recently Dylan Roof should not be common household names. I am disappointed that I am able to list off those names without the help of the internet. What I am even more disappointed about is that I cannot name more than three victims of all those tragedies combined. Pictures and names of the victims and testimonies from the victims’ loved-ones are often muffled by images and videos of the perpetrators. It concerns me deeply that the front page of CNN and Fox News is a picture of the shooter. The media is promising to those planning their next attack that they will gain instant celebrity-status. With that, I urge you to refrain from plastering pictures of the murder and replace them with more attention to the victims. The shooter’s name should go anonymous, face unrecognized, identity silenced. As soon as this happens, the public’s anger and disgust will turn to sadness and grief, two emotions the media fails to invoke amongst its viewers. We should mourn and remember 17-year-old Rachel Scott, 1-year-old Blake Ryan Kennedy, 22-year-old Ryan Clark, 6-year-old Noah Pozner, 26-year-old Tywaza Sander, and the many, many more victims who remain nameless. Enough news for entertainment. It is time to see some good in the world.