I feel awful about what happened in Colorado, but can we stop the hugging and the teddy bears? Just as society can become inured to violence, it can also become inured to sentiment. There is nothing so hackneyed in the world of photojournalism as pictures of the hugging and the shrines with candles and teddy bears after a tragedy, with a piano softly trilling in the background.
This accomplishes nothing. If you want to do something, please write a check to a good charity, a family financially harmed by the shooting, or send flowers to a specific person.
It is also not helpful to have politicians and television personalities pledging not to discuss the alleged shooter. Unlike most news, that information serves an actual purpose, such has helping us recognize warning signs in other potential mass murderers in the future.
Only people who are themselves obsessed with being famous could imagine that any kind of fame -- even infamy -- is some kind of a reward. Thus, President Barack Obama and MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell, among others, have vowed to punish the suspect by not mentioning his name.
If only we had thought of that with Adolf Hitler! Apparently, it wasn't Hitler's twisted Darwinian "master race" philosophy that led to the Holocaust. He just wanted to get his name in the paper. Say anything you want about how much I hate Jews -- just spell my name right!
This is the apotheosis of the "Jersey Shore" mentality.
Similarly, why is it assumed that we honor the victims by endlessly dissecting their lives for public inspection? Maybe they were private people. The mad quest for fame is nearly as peculiar a phenomenon as the desire to commit murder. Not everyone has it.
It's especially strange to assume that fame was the motive of alleged Colorado shooter James Holmes, inasmuch as the murders occurred at the premiere of a Batman movie; Holmes told the police he was "the Joker," Batman's frequent antagonist; Holmes has Batman posters in his apartment; and he had dyed his hair bright red, attempting to resemble the Joker.
All that not only indicates that Holmes is off his rocker -- the opposite of calculatingly pursuing press clips -- but also suggests the possibility that a movie inspired his deadly fantasy.
But no one would dare raise Hollywood violence as a possible cause of this mass murder. Former U.S. senator Christopher Dodd, now head of the Motion Picture Association of America, instantly came out for gun restrictions in response to the Colorado shooting.
If I were Hollywood's chief lobbyist, I think I'd keep my yap shut after a mass shooting that was inspired, at least in part, by a Hollywood movie.
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