Thoughts on Newtown

This is going to be similar to a post I put up after the Aurora theatre shootings… I wrote it for an online message board I frequent, and I thought it might be worth posting here…

  • Do we indirectly cause these spree shootings by covering them wall-to-wall?  Do we touch a nerve in an unstable person that says “my life may suck, but they’ll talk about me forever if I do this”?
  • What is it in our wiring that makes the spree shooting (or stabbing, as in China) go the way it usually does — sudden, massively violent, outbursts?  Is there something here that the medical community should be looking at?
  • Banning guns is not the answer.  Sadly, even monitoring ownership isn’t the answer — remember, the best information we have is that Adam Lanza stole his mother’s legally-purchased guns (although this may change, the point is that you never can be sure the owner will be the only user of the guns they buy).  We have to start trying to figure out what signs, if any, a potential spree killer shows… if that’s even possible.  It may be that the price of our freedoms is the occasional atrocity — as the steps that would stop the atrocity would also curtail many of our cherished freedoms.
  • What we saw yesterday, and into today, is the news-gathering cycle that before CNN/FOX/MSNBC, we would never have known about.  We demand 24-hour news, and we demand perfection.  You can’t have both.  The networks really need to start adjusting their journalistic policies to cut back on some forms of speculation (specifically, the use of badly-confirmed names) and also make it more clear where the line is between confirmed fact (preferably attributable by name to someone paid to know), semi-confirmed fact (secondary sourcing or “source with knowledge”) and rumor.  We all have to understand that “BREAKING NEWS” means mistakes.   For example, the original ID of Ryan Lanza as the shooter was, at best, semi-confirmed — probably someone who saw the ID on the killer and never stopped to consider that the ID document might have been fake or stolen, then misrepresented what was known to a reporter that didn’t stop long enough to confirm it.
  • Speaking of the media, those who put traumatized children in front of a camera… there aren’t words, really.   Those kids should have been declared off-limits by any news director with the slightest bit of humanity — which, sadly, is probably why they weren’t.
  • Those who rushed in front of cameras to score political or religious points yesterday should be ashamed of themselves, but are the voices most likely to be utterly devoid of shame.

And, in the end… this has happened before and will happen again.  Grieve for the lost.  Help those who were hurt (physically and emotionally).  And be prepared for the next one.

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Author: Rob Hoffmann

Occasional blogger, full-time computer techie, radio producer (basketball, mostly), improv tech guy, generally nice person (if you ask me).

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