Stop Saying Their Names

candlelight vigil

Last week the nation was devastated by yet another mass shooting, this time at a school in Parkland, Florida. In the immediate aftermath, the response from both sides of the political aisle was the same as always.

The right asked for time to grieve, and offered their thoughts and prayers. The left, and the liberal media, yelled that thoughts and prayers are worthless, and gun control legislation was necessary right now.

Both sides want something to be done to help stop or minimize these tragedies. However, when there is disagreement in how to address these crises the response turns to claims that the other side doesn’t care about the victims. This is wrong. Nobody wants these events to continue. And this type of fighting is counterproductive.

There is one thing we can all do to help stop some these shootings. It doesn’t require legislation, simply responsible actions by all of us, specifically those in the media.

We can stop saying the shooters name.

Celebrity Culture

There is near round-the-clock coverage of celebrities, like the Kardashians, Beyonce, or Justin Bieber. The lines between sports, politics, news, and celebrity are essentially gone.

Now, in the age of social media, achieving a level of stardom is far easier than just a decade ago. People build successful careers purely off of their popularity on Instagram and Youtube. The concern over “likes” on social media can cause dopamine spikes or depression.

This need to be famous drives teens to do anything for a small bit of that popularity. This ranges from eating Tide Pods, to jumping off buildings, to hurting or killing others.

If we can take this fame away from potentially violent actors,  shouldn’t we do it?

Our Role

In the aftermath of these shootings, the media is constantly fighting to be the first outlet with any new piece of information. Being the first to report the name of the shooters is important to them. However, the media should make a pact to refrain.

This doesn’t require the actions of bureaucrats in Washington. It won’t trample on anyone else’s rights, and doesn’t require any new legislation. Our media outlets simply need to decide not to say their names.

Obviously, the internet is a vast an open space, and we likely can’t prevent people from speaking their names online. However, it’s quite possible to keep their names off of our TVs. That would make these villains known only by fringe groups, rather than household names.

In the recent case in Florida, the gunman spoke online about becoming a “professional school shooter.” He clearly craves the fame that celebrity culture and social media have made so important.

This is a simple solution. Nobody needs to force us to do it, we can simply choose, as good people, not to contribute to the fame these scumbags crave. We can’t know for sure if this would have prevented the recent shooting, but it may have. And if it could prevent just one shooting, we need to try.