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What if the Penalty Were Certain Anonymity? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 11 December 2007 06:45
I have a non-violent solution to the angry young man bursting into the mall/church/school with his assault rifle. Something in addition to the other obvious non-violent options of 1) refusing to give him access to assault rifles, 2) stop filling his head with images - through movies, videos, TV, computer games - which lionize solitary young men wielding assault rifles. It wouldn't stop all such events but it will stop inspiring copy-cat incidents by guys who are going to prove something to the world and become immortal by taking others with them.

All we have to do is make a pact - all of us - all media sources, all bloggers, friends, family, etc. All we have to do is say that the name of any such shooter will never be mentioned again. He will not go down in history like Jesse James or Jack the Ripper. He won't go down in history at all. He will vanish. His story will never be told. The penalty is not just almost certain death. The penalty is certain anonymity. The shooter won't vanish from the mind or eye of God or his family - but he will from history.

Some of this - a good deal of this - is publicity driven. Done by young men who have added dazzling media images to their personal stock of inner darkness and rage. Without those images: of Columbine and Omaha and now Colorado - how many miserable 17 year olds will take that route? They usually do it after months and years of brooding upon such images and stories, seeing themselves as the anti-hero and revenger, whose spectacular end is reported 24/7 all over the world, and endlessly speculated about. A small child's "I'll show them!" magnified a billion times by CNN and FOX and the internet. Now it is "I'll show the world!".

What if we cut the supply? What if he knew for sure that no one would see, that no one would ever know his name, if he took this path? That no media report would ever mention his name or his family or his home town or his childhood or the people who bullied him at school or read the letter or video that he leaves behind. That his fantasies of finally being seen and recognized, of being the all powerful center of attention, could not happen this way. That he could not send a defiant message to the universe this way.

We have to simply stop rewarding this sort of fantasy with 24/7 global notoriety and a place in the Bad Boys of the Universe Hall of Fame.

Publicity is the oxygen that feeds this particular kind of fire. And it is we who control the source of that particular narcotic.

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