Thursday, April 19, 2007

To hell with promoting Monday’s shooter

What if a writer deliberately wrote a short story he knew would humiliate a particular person if it got published? This story would make a certain person’s life miserable because it would reveal something a few selected people would be able to decode and understand as having a special meaning.

Well, that would be mean.

Still, it happens. Sad as it may be, it’s one of the reasons some people write fiction -- to get revenge on those they think have it coming to them.

If the names in the mean writer’s story were changed to put a slightly new face on the damaging details, would the target who got fired, or lost a spouse, or was ruined in some other way, have any chance of getting relief or satisfaction in a court?

Well, if the payback-seeking writer did enough to camouflage the specifics of what he wrote about, so the general public wouldn’t be able to discern the hidden meaning of the key information, I doubt the victim would get anywhere in court. Maybe a lawyer will tell me I’m wrong about that, but I think it happens like that plenty of times.

So, some writers use this easy license to get back at old girlfriends and rivals, and so forth. On the other hand, everyday writers with good judgment, and a moral compass in working order, usually know where to draw the lines.

OK. Let’s take it further down that dark road. What if a writer knew the script he’d written for a television soap opera would get a person killed?

Well, if the writer covered himself in the same way as described above, he’d probably not be punished by the courts system. But what about the stinking morality of such a calculated act?

To me, that’s about where we are with NBC broadcasting the tape sent to the network, supposedly by the mass murderer who snuffed out all those lives at Virginia Tech on Monday. By making this killer into a celebrity villain of the first order -- with tiny details blown up large -- NBC and others running that depraved material every ten minutes are hastening the day yet another tortured sicko will do something to top Monday’s gun-wielding madman ... just to be remembered as “somebody.”

Therefore, at SLANTblog, the shooter will not be named. No. I don’t have to promote him, and I won’t. His name will not appear in this space. To hell with him.

There can be no doubt the wicked desire for hall-of-infamy status is part of what’s in play here. That’s why NBC got the tape. And, we all know there are too many sickos out there right now fantasizing about a crime spree to dwarf Monday’s carnage.

So, what if a broadcast network deliberately presented material -- in the name of reporting the news -- that its bosses knew perfectly well would eventually contribute to getting a bunch of people killed? What if those bosses knew they were helping to create the next tragedy by hyping the author of the Virginia Tech disaster of April 16th to the max?

Legally, who knows the answer?

Morally, I know the answer. Do you?


Update: Instead of promoting the posing gunman, maybe on Friday we should wear the colors, as suggested by Don Harrison at Save Richmond.

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