Withholding a Name Won’t Stop the Next Mass Shooting

by Diane Dimond on June 15, 2015

Tom Sullivan (Center) Lost Son, Alex, to Theater Killer

Tom Sullivan (Center) Lost Son, Alex, to Theater Killer

For those of us who have never lost a child to a violent crime we cannot possibly know a grieving parent’s pain. But we know that out of pain can come a   convoluted way of thinking.

It isn’t easy to question the motives of a heart-broken parent who decides they hold the key to stop future tragedies. It isn’t popular to ask them whether they are acting out of grief or common sense when they point the finger of blame and demand change.  But that’s exactly what I’m doing.

There is a campaign called NoNoteriety – advanced most energetically by the devastated parents of Alex Teves, 24, one of a dozen people who lost their lives during the 2012 mass shooting inside an Aurora, Colorado movie theater. Another 70 were wounded.

Not Saying a Name Stops the Next Killer - How?

Not Saying a Name Stops the Next Killer – How?

NoNoteriety supporters believe — as their website states — that the individuals who carry out these murderous rampages are motivated by, “the quest for notoriety” and that such criminals should be deprived of, “the media celebrity they so crave.”

(And the proof of that is – where?)

The Teves’ have issued a challenge to the media to stop reporting the names of shooters like James Holmes who meticulously planned and carried out the theater shooting that took their son’s life. They also don’t want TV, newspapers or magazines to show his photograph.

No Name. No Photo. No Notoriety. That is the group’s motto. They believe the mere mention of a shooter’s name or a glance at their mugshot glorifies them and creates copycat killers.

Tom Teves takes it one step further saying the media has, “blood on its hands” for reporting such details in the past.

The Family of Alex Teves, 24, Fears Copy Cat Killers

The Family of Alex Teves, 24, Fears Copy Cat Killers

“You guys need to be responsible for what you do,” he told KUSA 9News on the year anniversary of the theater shooting. “You guys could change overnight. All you have to do is have the courage to stop.”

Now, it’s my turn.

No reputable reporter can cover a case — especially a criminal trial – without mentioning the defendant’s name. How can we fail to show the deranged looking red-haired photograph taken of Holmes just a few hours after that horrific mass shooting? His appearance and state of mind at the time goes directly to his current insanity defense.

Journalists are trained in the who-what-why-where-when of a story. Facts are our lifeblood. How are we supposed to do our jobs and still satisfy the demands of those who have embraced the NoNoteriety movement?

Journalism Demands Certain Questions Be Answered

Journalism Demands Certain Questions Be Answered

I have spent a career reporting on victims of murder, childhood sexual abuse, rape and domestic abuse. It never once dawned on me that I should leave the perpetrator’s identity out of my story.

What the NoNoteriety folks are asking creates a slippery slope. If the media agrees to keep mass shooter’s names and photos out of their stories for fear it could influence a future tragedy where does it stop? Do we keep secret the name of corrupt politicians on trial because it might give other crooked officials an idea? Shall we stop mentioning the name of bank robbers, domestic abusers or child molesters?  Do we keep the name of all murderers out of our stories or just the ones who go on these random, mass killing sprees?

It is so easy to blame the messenger instead of focusing on the harder-to-change aspects of today’s society. My list: The ease in which a determined individual can buy guns and on-line ammunition, their mental health status and the widespread practice of prescribing too many mind-altering drugs to too many patients.

This Book Starts a Long Overdue Conversation for Society

This Book Starts a Long Overdue Conversation for Society

Investigative authors Stephen and Joyce Singular wrote The Spiral Notebook, a new book about the uptick of these acts of mass violence. They conducted years of research on the topic and engaged a forgotten segment in the conversation – millennials. They asked young people why so many of their generation turn to this kind of violence.

“They came of age when the future seemed quite limited,” the Singulars wrote. “Climate change, economic collapse, Y2K, global terrorism … there’s always another apocalypse around the corner.” And to add to this skewed upbringing, the authors noted, the movie industry kept churning out terrifying films.

“They were filled with superheroes who wielded power by killing as many others as they could.”

Seems there are a lot of possible stimuli that go into creating these monstrous mass killers. Blaming the news media is a cop out.

 ###

###

 

 

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane Dimond June 15, 2015 at 10:42 am

ABQ Journal Reader Dianne Layden writes:

“Diane,

I enjoyed your column.

The group against notoriety may be supported by the threat assessment experts who think the media and law enforcement conspire to make a big deal of people who do big bad things — I’m quoting Gavin de Becker. Park Dietz agrees with him. They speak on a DVD of an Investigative Reports program on A&E called “Violence in the Workplace,” 2000/2001, Kurtis Productions LTD and A&E Television Networks, Documentary, Cat. No. AAAE73643.. Bill Kurtis closes the program by noting news coverage is our best hope to understanding and preventing workplace violence.”

Reply

Diane Dimond June 15, 2015 at 10:43 am

Dear Dianne,

My point exactly. I believe if we close off any avenue toward understanding these criminals we do society a disservice. ~ DD

Reply

Diane Dimond June 15, 2015 at 10:44 am

Noozhawk Reader Heather Barber writes:

“Eh, the “news” media isn’t as trusting as they once were, either. Today’s mainstream media journalists are just as much a problem, if not more. They are biased and bought.
In no way am I supporting the NoNotoriety movement, but I thought I’d point out the elephant in the room.”

Reply

Diane Dimond June 15, 2015 at 10:45 am

Ms. Barber,

Do you mean the news media is not as TRUSTWORTHY these days? If so, I have to agree with you. The lines of journalism have been blurred by a lot of things these days – poorly trained or “advocate” reporters, slipshod or non existent editors, amateur bloggers and snarky posters posing as trained journalists.

But that wasn’t really the point of this column. ~ DD

Reply

Diane Dimond June 15, 2015 at 10:02 pm

Facebook Friend Patti Petow writes:

“While I agree that for the media, leaving the name of the perpetrators of any kind of horrific crime is pretty much impossible, I do believe that organizations such as NoNotoriety have their place.

Years ago, when John Lennon was as assassinated in front of The Dakota, I agreed with many (and still do) that it serves little purpose (on a personal level) to mention the killer by name. It’s my way of making a statement that the less attention he receives, even in passing conversation with friends about the tragedy, the more I honor John Lennon and his family. Do I think that others should do the same? No, I do not. At the same time, I do not think it’s fair to ask that the media play by the same rules. The bottom line is this, there is an on and off switch on my TV and computer. I am not required to read in depth reports about mass murderers. If I choose to do so, I do so.

Your professionalism as a journalist neither assists nor detracts from the absolute insanity (or not) from these horrific crimes. It does keep those who want and need to know the facts of any situation in the know and maybe by keeping people informed of what’s going on out there, it helps society to understand and grasp the harsh and horrible reality of these situations”

Reply

Diane Dimond June 15, 2015 at 10:05 pm

Twitter Pal KareenLJohnson writes:

“@DiDimond No. Names & info should be available. The general public can then be aware and why not in the process be more vigilant.”

Reply

Diane Dimond June 15, 2015 at 10:06 pm

Twitter Pal DrSteveAlbrecht writes:

“@DiDimond The copycat factor is real. Future shooters want to “outdo their idols.” Just like we don’t put street gang names on the news.”

Reply

Diane Dimond June 15, 2015 at 10:07 pm

Actually, Dr. Steve Albrecht, I’ve heard lots of street gang names on the news – and read them in the newspaper. Just sayin’. ~ DD

Reply

Diane Dimond June 16, 2015 at 10:38 am

Twitter Pal OpusP writes:

“@DiDimond WSJ asked this in 2013. Mass shooters want attention. The media needs to help deprive them of an audience. wsj.com/articles/SB100…”

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: