December 19, 2012

BY LIMITING JUST ONE AMENDMENT WE CAN REDUCE THE VIOLENCE:

How news media can help prevent shooting massacres (Chris Allen, 20 December 2012, Online Opinion)
 
There is no mystery about school killings. The real causes are staring us in the face; criminological research demonstrates that these are copycat crimes.

Notice how they echo and change the storylines of past crimes: locations were in the 1980s post offices, then became gun-free schools and malls; perpetrators were first PLO terrorists, then aging males with relationship issues and in recent years mentally unstable young men.

Research in the USA showed that the mainstream news media provide training manuals for copycats, with their inset boxes listing weapons in 'arsenals'; they refer to the killers' 'meticulous planning' while laying out easy bullet-point lists of actions leading up to the crimes. The killers he researched kept articles from Time and Newsweek, and obsessively watched news and current affairs reports on how they could easily get guns to commit massacres. Now they turn to NBC, CNN and ABC and the online media. The news shows, not computer games or violent movies, are the most effective teachers of mass killing.

We understand now that people build maps or scripts of how to act from what they see others around them doing. The more alike someone seems, the more their situation can be applied to yours, the more likely it is you will act like them. This applies to choice of fashions and musical tastes, choosing education options - and to committing crimes. News people know this and enforce internal guidelines to help prevent suicide and crime copycats. But for a mass shooting, the urgent opportunity to boost audiences and present copy overwhelms their ethical hesitation, and they convince themselves their carefully-preened moral outrage is a force for good.

But they don't stop there. The responsible news media provide billions of dollars in name recognition, photo publicity and hours of discussion about the significance of the killings and their perpetrators. They partner with political activists, fomenting hatred of the journalists' political enemies and creating moral campaigns to punish them. Their actions invest the killers with a huge social significance, that these mentally unstable, morally deficient losers would never otherwise achieve.

Detailed news 'instruction' has taught even the mentally handicapped how; and enormous social significance is guaranteed if they act. Our news services created the string of mass murders, and made an engine to keep it going.


Posted by at December 19, 2012 5:32 PM
  
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