The Connecticut Shooting is Being Oversensationalized by the American Media

    December 18, 2012 at 4:00 am

    It is obvious to me that the Connecticut shooting is being oversensationalized by the American media. Not only is there way too much media coverage about the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, but more than half of the articles are covering the wrong thing; between inaccurate reporting and sensationalist headlines, it’s mostly all wrong in some sense.

    We eat it up. We read about it everywhere and then discuss it, over and over and over, comparing irrelevant details of the crime with one another after gasps and downcast glances. It was a shame. Did you hear that they wrongfully accused his brother? Did you hear that the brother may have had a mental problem? He may have had a mental problem. Great observation. Anyone could have made that statement. The guy who shot a bunch of people may have had a mental problem.

    Moment of silence this, “my heart breaks for the parents” that, a lot of “sign this sad petition” Facebook posts, a lot of “I can’t believe it — here’s a funny video to cheer you up on this sad day” bullshit.

    And the headlines are disgusting. People saying their “heart breaks” for the kids making an entire article. Sensationalist words being used over and over and over. Little girls. Little boys. Tiny bodies. Pumped full of bullets. Prayers in the closet as gunshots ring out in the empty halls. An infographic reiterating the facts of the shooting, small drawings of the guns used to execute the children, a bird’s eye view sketch of the entire school. For what?

    Pictures of the kids who died. Pictures of the kids who didn’t die, crying outside the school. Pictures of parents who lost their children, sick with grief. Pictures of parents who didn’t, sick with worry as they wait outside the school for news of their kids. It’s sensationalist nothingness; there is nothing intellectual or remotely helpful that springs from this gawking and rubbernecking.

    <a href=”“>Huffington Post’s</a> Thrity Umrigar has a good point when she says that making inane Facebook and Twitter posts about how tragic the situation is doesn’t really contribute anything positive to the aftermath of the situation. Her reasons why, however, miss the mark. While she disagrees with these “ritualized expressions of public grief” because they “don’t change the laws of the land […] If Rosa Parks had tweeted about the indignity of sitting in the back of the bus, her grandkids would still be sitting in the back of the bus.”

    She had me up until “grief.” However, the Rosa Parks thing is overblown. Discussions about gun laws, the way we deal with mental illness, and why our society is producing so many mass shooters are actually very important to have. And that’s what we should be doing instead of lighting virtual e-candles and signing petitions of mourning. Dozens of positive changes have resulted just from media coverage resulting in discussion and outcry; just look at the lunch lady who was recently fired for feeding that poor kid who couldn’t afford to buy lunch. Once everyone complained about how awful her displacement was, she was rehired by the apologetic principal. The public’s opinion does matter.

    This should be inspiring more conversations about how we deal with the mentally ill. Even about gun control. There are plenty of dull, insult ridden arguments about the presence of God in the schools and some lady comparing the shooting to abortion and let’s blame the president and put metal detectors in every school hallway to make sure our educational institutions are as prison-like as possible. There are not enough intelligent discussions. We live in a nation of “Wow, so sad, look at those kids looking so sad, it makes me sad, life is really sad sometimes; insert something about Jesus.”

    Which also leads up to all the news outlets and people calling the guy who did this “a monster.” He was not a monster. He was a human just like you and just like me, as much as so many of you hate to accept that. There was nothing supernatural or superhuman about him. He was a human being with a fucked up brain, a human being who perceived the world, right and wrong, his role in it, the importance of others, and the rights of others, in an extremely different way than most of the population. It is so ignorant to dehumanize him by calling him “a monster” because, in this way, we fail to learn from him and his reasoning.

    What I mean is that instead of scrutinizing what went wrong and why this happened, we assume he was some “different species” that cannot be understood, someone unrelatable in every sense, some thing, some entity, that is incomprehensible. And that is stupid. Because then we blame gun control and Barack Obama and the lack of metal detectors and the teacher who let him in and the guy who bullied him as a child that one time and his mom who taught him how to shoot when he was only a kid, instead of actually trying to reach the root of the problem — to analyze this psychologically, to try and understand what makes people do things like this and more importantly the signs that we can use to recognize and try and prevent (through rehabilitation and other preventative measures such as mandating therapy and banning guns from mom’s house and whatever else; I’m not a doctor) this person from developing into a literal murderer.

    Because there were signs. And they aren’t, “Well he was a goth kid who got bullied.” All the sensationalism, the “goth vampire internet lover” this and “Satan worshiping emo kid” that is one thing preventing us from seeing the true signs of a dangerously troubled mind.

    Plenty of confused parents have been freaking the fuck out because their children are wearing black and listening to some pussified band like Green Day. This gets in the way of the real problem; such as, when little Tommy, dressed quite normally, is out torturing kittens as a prelude to double homicide and no one notices because the news is covering “EMO: A DANGEROUS TREND?!” instead of educating people on behaviors that are actually very serious warning signs.

    As long as we keep distracting each other and lying to ourselves, it’s only going to get worse.

    “Who cares? WHO CARES?” I don’t care.”

    – Steve Brule.


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