On December 24th, 2012 around 5:30 a.m. the Webster, N.Y. Volunteer Fire Department responded to a house fire. As they worked to put out the blaze, a convicted killer with a rifle and handgun opened fire on them, killing two firefighters and wounding two. The body count rose to three as the killer’s sister, who was missing at the time of the attack, was found in the ashes of killer’s house, which he set on fire. Taking a page out Al Qaida’s play book, the killer set fire to his home in order to lure the firefighters to the scene to produce his targets.
The killer, whose name I will not enshrine here, has escalated the violence of Newtown, Connecticut by setting fire to his house, which incidentally, took six others with it before it was all over, in addition to shooting the firefighters.
Of course the ultimate blame rests with the killer, but I indict the media as being complicit!! The media, including Fox News, gave us several days of reporting on the Newtown, Connecticut mass murder of twenty young children and two adults. They told us, over and over, who the killer was, posting his picture over and over, as well as, recounting his life history. They also recounted over and over the gory details of how the murders took place. Do they not realize that this is music to the ears, and pornography to the eyes of the sick minds who are sitting out there, feeling powerless and useless over their own lives? What a wonderful way for them to go out in a blaze of glory, leaving a powerful legacy behind.
Aristotle, a Greek philosopher understood this in 300 B.C. when he wrote in his treatise, “The Politics”: “For man, when perfected, is the best of animals, but, when separated from law and justice, he is the worst of all; since armed injustice is the more dangerous, and he is equipped at birth with the arms of intelligence and with moral qualities which he may use for the worst ends” (emphasis mine).
In our time we would tend to consider a person separated from law and justice as a criminal. Most criminals do what they do with having some understanding of law and justice. They know they are breaking the law, and when they are caught they know they will receive justice. However, Aristotle here is speaking about the criminally insane, not just the common criminal. The criminally insane is separated from law and justice because they are separated from reality, at least the reality that most of us share. They are separated from their family and the community in which they live.
Now, in another time, we would have called this, “evil.” I personally believe that “evil” exists and that there is an author of all evil. However, speaking of the atrocities that these mass murderers commit as “evil” is not politically correct. Even with some, speaking of these monsters as mentally ill is politically incorrect! It is this ambivalence that allows these monsters to grow and develop and that keeps them loose in our communities.
The Webster, NY killer had previously bludgeoned to death his grandmother with a hammer. So, he got to spend seventeen years in prison, and then six years on probation. He was then set free! Committing the initial heinous crime should have labeled him as criminally insane.
Taking apart someone’s head with a hammer is up close and personal and, at least in my opinion, requires Aristotle’s separation from law and justice in order to perform. He committed murder; but they allowed him to plead to manslaughter, which allowed him to slip through the system. Someone like this should have been under supervision for life! He should not have been let loose again on the community. Time and time again, the justice system does this. How many more innocents must die until we, as a society, once again believes that the safety of the community of citizens must come first in dealing with these killers.
Now, I am not saying, no media coverage. I am saying, limited coverage that pays homage to the fallen, but in a way that does not sensationalize it. In doing so, it removes the fuel that fires up the crazies out there to want to get their time in the bright lights of the Media. President Obama wasted no time after the Newtown shootings going on the National TV to demonize guns and their role in the killings, making it clear that something was going to be done about it. If he really wants to something about it, he should use his “celebrecred” with the Media to admonish them on their handling of situations such as this. Obama needs to tell the Media to tone their coverage way down. Tell them they must not, for National Security reasons, ever release the name of the shooter, his/her bio and pictures if the killer commits suicide, or is killed during the incident. In this case the killer is dead; other than next of kin, there is no need for anyone else to know the killer’s identity. If the killer is taken alive, then only his/her name along with brief biographical information needs only to be released, but no pictures. The press should not be allowed to use any type of photographic technology during court hearings and procedures, including in the transport of the prisoner to and from jail to court. No jailhouse mug shots.
The press will cry that such restrictions violate their First Amendment rights. However, the Media’s sensationalism of this type of mass killings needs to be treated as similar to their yelling fire in a crowded theatre. In doing so, they increase the likelihood of innocent people being hurt needlessly, just as would crying fire in a crowded theatre.