I shall try to make this post as brief as possible and do my best not to be a hypocrite, though the latter will be quite difficult.
As I’m sure you’re all aware, last week a young man went out and shot a number of women. Since then he hasn’t left our screens. After the first round of coverage, we’d learned everything about the incident itself, courtesy of excessive news coverage by 24 hour stations, and everything about his madness, courtesy of his manifesto being published all over the web and his last YouTube video being played by every channel and website.
Then came the second round, the dissection of his motives by bloggers and news sites alike. This particular killer’s actions have been attributed to everything from misogyny, to lax gun laws to Hollywood (Judd Apatow films by the Washington Post, The Hunger Games by Rush Limbaugh).
I am not here to add to this discussion. I am here to ask that it stop. Any mention of this man’s name only elevates his infamy, making his actions more successful and inspiring others to follow in his path.
After every mass shooting, after every serial killing we go through the same three-ring circus. The first is a frenzy of voyeurism, where no blurred Facebook photo, no shaky home video of the killer is too mundane or obscure to be broadcast.
The second is an orgy of opinion, where every cause tries to claim the tragedy as a demonstration of the evils they see in society. The killer is held up as a poster boy, as either the monster the evils created or the victim of their influence.
The third is a quiet chorus that desperately asks that we not award the killer the fame he desired. It carefully goes through the undeniable evidence that our voices raised in horror and pity only serve to feed the cycle of infamy that will inevitably create the next monster.
What’s most tragic about this particular cycle is that this incident has been co-opted by causes I believe in. The #YesAllWomen campaign and feminist perspectives in general, advocates for stricter gun control and tireless advocates for the better understanding of mental illness have all weighed in and held up this man’s actions as a cause to rally behind.
I don’t doubt that for every blogger who’s only trying to promote themselves through controversy there are another five who are doing it out of genuine belief but the point remains that on many of these blogs, this man’s name is said, mostly shouted. His picture is in the header. His last video is embedded in the article.
It is these people I address when I say please, let him fade into obscurity. The causes you promote are important and worthwhile and don’t need this incident to draw attention to them. Don’t let your fervour lead to inspire the next killer and to contribute to the death of his victims.
There are better ways to promote better mental health than holding up a case like this. Feminism doesn’t need a misogynist to commit mass murder to validate its points when rape and domestic violence statistics exist. Even gun control advocates can let him become another number to bolster their cause, without having to show his face.
Let his name die and you might prevent another from taking his place.