Mass shooters shouldn’t be named

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“We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off,” Chuck Palahniuk, “Fight Club.”

Mass shootings keep happening in the United States, and they will continue to do so, becoming meaningless through repetition.

While we need to reform our 2nd Amendment, and possibly increase funding to mental health programs, neither one of these solutions seem to be making headway. People love their guns, and people don’t like to give away money, so the debate continues.

However, the point of this editorial isn’t to talk about gun reform or the need for more mental health centers. Instead, let’s talk about something we can all agree upon: Our media needs to stop naming mass shooters.

This habit makes it seem as though we are idolizing the people causing these tragedies. If we keep reporting, creating documentaries and films about them, then they will continue to exist in our culture. These shooters all seem to want one thing: publicity. And our media continues to give them the spotlight.

Changing the way we report a mass shooting may not stop the event from happening, but it will send the message, “Shooting up a place will not make you famous.”

Perhaps it’s because we’re more inclined, more intrigued, with these sinister characters rather than each individual victim who actually mattered.

An NPR ombudsman defended their decision to use the Oregon shooter’s name this way: “Identifying the shooter by name is part of unraveling a story and helping place it in the larger context of many shootings.” But this approach focuses on the lunatic that killed rather than the innocent person whose life was taken.

People that are killed in these atrocities become a number. The victims are known as a group, and not the individuals they really are. When media report on the shooter, they go into their biography, possible motives, interests, and other random stuff that doesn’t really matter after the fact.

That isn’t right, and it needs to change.

Last week’s shootings at Northern Arizona University and Texas Southern University, strangely both occurring the same day, were reported no differently. 

Of course this won’t stop these horrific events from happening, but it is the ethical way to start reporting them. No one committing these acts deserves to be remembered. What should be emphasized are the victims that were lost.

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