Thursday, April 19, 2007

Virginia Tech, Killer's 'Media Manifesto' Broadcasted

I am absolutely flabbergasted—although I know I shouldn't be—that NBC is broadcasting to the world the words, video and images of a killer. When I watched the broadcast last night, the first thing that came to mind were very brief broadcasts I've seen of Al-Qaeda members when they've captured people. We only see about 10 seconds of that. Why does this merit who knows how long of discussion and critique? Ok...ok..I know free speech, but we're talking about a dead person who killed 32 people on a idyllic college campus in the US. I could see NBC broadcasting a few photographs (like the mail package) and quoting some of his words, but to show his video—YouTube style? I think it's a very bad idea.

Why should we be educating the masses on what it's like to get inside the mind of a 'madman'? Why do we need to see and hear those images? It only perpetrates more violence. Enough already. In the age of developing content for the Internet we need not encourage more violent acts to show up for viewing to teach our youth about 'how-to' become a killer.

In my opinion, by broadcasting the words and images of a killer under the auspices of 'understanding' we give the power back to the violator and minimize the stories of the people (victims) most affected by this horrible turn of events. This violent student killer's (I don't even want to memorialize his name) story takes away the power of the victim's stories and sensationalizes the problem, making him appear as a hero-villain. Not a good message. Instead, we need to hear many more of the victim's stories which offer a powerful, pertinent learning lesson and understanding of violent experiences.

And, if we are going to try to start a reality-TV-style discussion about the Virginia Tech shooting, why don't we take a lead from last week's 'big story' with Imus and the Rutgers Women's Basketball team and at least get the discussion going about the right issues. Isn't this more about how easy it is to get guns in this country? Is a high school or college campus more sacred than our communities? Since Columbine, some high schools have constructed expensive metal detectors to retrieve the guns and violent tools that kids carry with them. Taking them away does nothing. They can get them again down-the-block at the local pawn shop and 'big boxes'.

I can only hope that enough people are incensed by this terrible tragedy to do something more than what we have become accustomed to seeing at these times-- symbols, candles, grave markers, letters, flowers and memorabilia posted to fences. I recognize these are healing devices. But we need to get beyond that. If we really want to support and heal the large numbers of people left behind in the wake of violence on campuses and in our communities, then we need to confront the real problem.

Guns and ammunition.

We need to do something to stop the easy access to these resources. The discussion this nation has about the Virginia Tech massacre needs to begin to focus on easy access to guns and ammunition. That would make all this nonsense we see in the media more palatable-hopeful-promising. Acting on what's really important to deal with these types of problems. Confront them. Solve Them. Otherwise we will continue this terrible cycle of violence, death and grieving, but never get to the most important level. Fixing it. That's a message that requires local, state national and global attention. Even if an entire economy revolves around it. We owe it to ourselves, our friends, our family and we owe it to humanity.