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Keep Your Guns and Consider This Modest Proposal

Weighing in on the Colorado shootings.

Several days after the massacre in Aurora, I picked up the Washington Post and there, above the fold, were not one, not two, not three, but four pictures of the assailant - he who shall not be named. At the same time, tucked below the fold in the left hand corner was an article noting the death of Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut. Her picture was buried on the tenth page. 

Talk about having our priorities screwed up.      

When I saw the four pictures of the assailant, it occurred to me that this was probably exactly what this moron wanted. He craved attention, he wanted to show the world that he had balls, that he could not be stopped. Like assassins before him, he may have thought he was Holden Caulfied or he may have been hoping to catch the eye of a Jody Foster. 

Since the murders, we’ve seen the usual short-lived debate about gun control that the NRA manages to keep confined to a day or two. Instead of looking for solutions to these horrific and predictable incidents, the emasculated Congress expresses lame outrage at how this could happen in a country like ours and they send their sheepish condolences to the family of the victims.  And that’s the last we’ll hear about this until the next time (like this past Sunday) when another “special bulletin” interrupts your regular television watching. 

Well, for what it’s worth, I’d like to suggest an idea that will not infringe on those oh-so-precious Second Amendment rights.    

Don’t give these deranged individuals what they want. Ignore them. Report the incident but don’t give the assailant his day in the sun. When the next “misunderstood” young adult walks into a church or a football stadium and murders more innocent people, don’t tell me his name, don’t show me his picture.  When the next one ups the ante and kills dozens in the middle of Times Square, don’t put him on the cover of Time magazine.    

If you think about it, except for the likes of Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy and a few others, we always forget their name anyway.  For example, how many of you can name the man who injured Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and killed six others?  Who killed the three students at West Paducah High School in Kentucky a few years ago? Heck, I’ll venture to say that most of us have forgotten the two boys who carried out the massacre at Columbine.  If we don’t remember their names anyway, why tell it to us in the first place?  Meanwhile, why do we need to see their face?  Why do we have to splash their bio all over the front page?  After all, it’s always the same person.  They are all white males in their twenties, loners and, according to his neighbors, a “good but quiet kid.” The press could just call them all John Doe and it wouldn’t make any difference. But it would deny some of them the attention they craved so much.  

Years ago, on a regular basis some idiot would jump onto a baseball field during the game and try to shake the hands of the like of Mickey Mantle, Henry Aaron, Willie Mays and others.  Half the time they were drunk and probably had been challenged by their equally drunk buddies who were home watching the game.  As they were running around the field, the television cameras would dutifully follow the culprit. Sure, the broadcasters would bemoan the action, but the guy would get his much-craved attention. But then, someone suggested that the cameras and commentators ignore the idiot. And guess what happened? The number of incidents has dropped dramatically.    

Now I am not suggesting that if we do not publicize the name of the assailant, it will stop all the massacres. But let’s at least take that one possible motivation out of their hands. Let’s not encourage the copy-cat.  Report the incident, focus more on the victims and avoid the temptation to reach for the sensational. And please don’t give me that “the readers have a right to know” crap. 

And next time put a picture of a true American hero like Sally Ride above the fold instead. 

Ron Fitzsimmons August 07, 2012 at 02:38 PM
I totally cannot believe that my friends at The Patch actually put a picture of the Aurora assailant on my article. I would love to understand their rationale.
J B August 07, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Where's the picture of Sally Ride?
Isle D Belle August 07, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Did they actually read the article before they attached the photo to it?
Jane Bovard August 07, 2012 at 03:40 PM
I would venture to say that the person putting the picture on with your article didn't read it - Shame on them!!!! I hope they apologize!
Jessie Biele (Editor) August 07, 2012 at 06:11 PM
Hi everyone, My apologies for attaching that photo. My reasoning behind it was the main focus of the article was the Colorado shootings and the media hubbub surrounding it (and yes, I did read it!) so I thought including a photo from that would accurately depict it. I didn't realize it would cause such a stir and I've realized the error of my ways. I've included and featured a photo of Sally Ride instead. Jessie Biele, Local Editor
Ron Fitzsimmons August 07, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Thanks, Jessie! Now, we all look forward to your response to the main premise of the piece. What do ya think about a little selective constructive censorship???
Bill Zaccagnino August 07, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Ron, I agree that the Post made a poor editorial choice in putting the shooter's picture above the fold and relegating Sally Ride's death to a nearly hidden corner. This practice is newspapers’ and other media’s desire to sell themselves with the lurid...a well learned lesson from the proliferation of reality TV over the last decade to feed the populations cravings. Even the repeated & repeated & repeated stories of the showing of the people killed in Aurora is done beyond reason so it too becomes lurid. Yes, our sympathy should be with the victims, injured included, and their families, but we do a great injustice to them and to ourselves by letting the issue of gun control fade away. As tragic as the killings of the 12 in Aurora and 6 in Milwaukee are, equally tragic are the dead child in NYC who was killed in cross fire the same weekend as Aurora and the young child who accidently fatally shot himself with a gun left in a nearby truck in Woodbridge within a week of that...not to mention the on average 75 to 80 killed each day with guns. Unfortunately, we save our umbrage for the big lurid events. While some people say, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people." I say, "If people kill people with guns, then we need to ban people from having guns." Clearly, "people" cannot be trusted to have guns.
JoeOvercoat August 08, 2012 at 11:33 AM
Jessie, please do consider implementing the recommended policy. The media has demonstrated it can do this, as it does with the victims of sexual assault, juveniles, and other limited cases. Please, attach a "this paper's policy is to not publish names of murdering lunatics, so as to not encourage lunatic behavior" statement to the relevant articles. Who knows...maybe the entire country will follow suit...it happens in our ultra-connected/meme of the moment society.
Jody August 08, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Congress is honorably upholding the law by refusing to emasculate and unarm the majority population who wants to protect the right to bear arms. The only way to keep weapons out of the hands of the unknown violently insane people is to ban all weapons. This would violate our constitutional law and leave the law abiding population defenseless against crime, attack from hostile countries, and even attack from a goverrnment trying to establish tyranny. An unarmed populace is easier to beat into submission. We have gun laws aplenty. Do we have to bring this topic up every time a crazy person commits murder? The left brings it up and the NRA shoots it down. Everyone expresses their opinion, we keep our rights, and maybe then we can focus on why so many young people are coming totally unglued and feeling a total disconnect from society.
Ron Fitzsimmons August 08, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Wow, Jody...Do you really believe that if a "hostile country" attacks us, we will defend ourselves with guns? What am I missing here? What country is going to send troops to our soil with the intent of conquering us? Some terrorist attacks, sure. Even a rogue nuclear device. But you are arguing that we need all of these guns to protect us from a "hostile country?" Can you give me the scenario you envision??
JoeB90 August 08, 2012 at 07:49 PM
Ron your ...on those oh-so-precious Second Amendment rights....Comment tells me you don't care about that part of the Bill of Rights. What other parts of our Constitution do you hold in disdain? I have never owned a gun but I think about this when people try to go around the Constitution. First they came for the communists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me. If you dislike the 2nd amendment so much then get an amendment to the Constitution passed.
Isle D Belle August 08, 2012 at 07:55 PM
I find that such adversarial and extreme responses to what start out initially as moderate and civil discourse reflect a lack of real understanding. Such accusatory and inflamatory language only reflects poorly on the poster. Before you post, think about how you can better understand your fellow man. It would really be a pleasure to engage in some deeper discussion of consitutional issues rather than address the same worn out slogans adopted from Fox News and the NRA website.
JoeB90 August 08, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Isle...I agree..I didn't care for the way that Ron addressed poor Jody's concerns in such a callous way...that's the down side to free speech I guess. Thank you for reasoned views. I didn't quite follow where you were going with the point about Fox News or the NRA though.
Jody August 08, 2012 at 11:39 PM
Wow, Ron. It may seem like a far-fetched scenario but who can predict the future. My point was that having an armed populace is one facet of effective defense preparedness.
Kevin O'Rourke August 09, 2012 at 02:19 AM
Brilliant! Now let's let the criminal (who will be the only one with a gun by the way), come and do as he or she pleases and no "honest" citizen will be able to defend themselves. Maybe we could all enroll in marshall arts classes, then we could learn to knock the gun out of the perpetraters hand. Yes, that would be a perfect world for sure! Please wake up!
Kevin O'Rourke August 09, 2012 at 02:28 AM
RON! Didn't this counrty do that once already! The common man defended this land because everyone had a gun in thier house for hunting. Remember history class? Think, I know you can do it. It was only against the most powerful country on earth at the time. They didn't initially own them to kill people (entirely). Knock the sleep out of your eays.
Kevin O'Rourke August 09, 2012 at 02:35 AM
If we could all manage to work together, it would be magnificent! Like in the past...we would be unstoppable.
T Ailshire August 09, 2012 at 11:53 AM
I have to wonder if Ron wrote the headline to this blog. "Keep your guns..." is a provocative phrase to many on both sides of the issue, but Ron's point really had nothing to do with the 2nd Amendment. Instead, he presented a reasoned argument for not giving monsters the publicity they seek. In my mind, that's a solid suggestion that does NOT step on people's rights.
JoeB90 August 09, 2012 at 03:02 PM
No argument here...but the "oh-so-Precious..." comment was over the top and unnecessary. Obviously Ron has an oh-so-precious First Amendment right to write what he wants; it's just a shame that his disdain of of other peoples' opinion couldn't be held back in making his argument.
T Ailshire August 09, 2012 at 03:36 PM
JoeB90 - I'm an ardent 2nd Amendment activist, and have to admit the phrase rubbed me the wrong way. Still, we law-abiding citizens must, in today's world, maintain composure and keep on message. We cannot make our points by taking offense where it's possible none was offended; there's plenty of appropriate opportunities.
Kari Warren August 10, 2012 at 05:29 PM
After this past week, I have so much to say on this. It is our mental health system that is broken. They are NOT ALLOWED to communicate to the police the release of a patient...even if that person has warrants for his arrest and is threatening to go on a killing spree and commit suicide. I am still trying to recover from this knowledge. And, we think is it GUNS that are the problem? Absolutely not!

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