Catch 22: At What Price Do We Publicize Mass Shootings?
The mass shootings are getting harder to keep up with. They seem to be an every day occurrence. I was enjoying a weekend with my grandmother, free of outside influences. We went out for brunch with two of my aunts. One of them brought in news of the mass shooting in the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Another one! Why?
I know the people have a right to know, but I sometimes wonder if these shooters did not have the publicity they get, would shooting even be a choice? We obviously do not have a system of suppressing the urge for bloody revenge, but we don’t have to encourage it either.
Anyone can dismiss me as anti-gun. But a true event in my life actually fed my viewpoint years ago. Starting in the summer of 1976, David Berkowitz (AKA the Son of Sam or the .44 Caliber Killer) killed 6 and wounded 7 others by July of 1977. It is claimed to be the most highly publicized serial murder case of its time. This was in New York City. Fifty-five miles away, in my small town in New Jersey, my brother was at a party when a participant exclaimed that he could outdo the Son of Sam. My brother and the others at the party all dismissed this as the talk of someone who had been drinking heavily. On August 26, 1977 the young man killed 6 people, including a friend of my brother’s, before shooting himself at the end of his spree. Apparently from the account of a friend of the killer, there were warning signs people missed. The friend claimed that the killer was “messed up” by his experience in the marines and that he was “bottled up and no one would try to understand him.”
So again, I wonder if there were not the vast publicity on David Berkowitz, would the carnage in my town have been reduced or not have happened at all? All the warning signs were missed, but maybe the damage would have been minimized had it not been for the publicity. Or maybe someone would have finally spoken up. One can only hope. It’s a Catch 22.