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Opinion & Editorial

Never Speaking Their Names

Mental illness has often been identified as clear links to those who commit monstrous crimes. There is presently no perfect way to screen for this kind of sickness, hence allowing its volatility–you never truly know who’s on the verge of falling apart–to throw the public into a constant panic.

“Seems like the more people you kill, the more you’re in the limelight.” These chilling words were posted on the alleged blog of the now infamous, clearly unstable Oregon shooter prior to the massacre that left nine dead on October 1, 2015.

I can’t seem to shake the feeling that since then, we gave the shooter exactly what they wanted.

We’ve seen 45 deaths from school shootings in America in 2015. Following each of these horrific events we’ve stared into the blank eyes of the killers as they appeared on our televisions. We’ve shuddered at the sound of their names slipping from the lips of reporters worldwide and grimaced as we spoke them ourselves.

Without noticing, we’ve slowly allowed each murderer, each sick individual, each architect of a heinous crime, to force us into remembrance. Not of their victims, nor their crime, nor the lives that they shattered, but of themselves.

How is it that we’re so shocked every time this happens when, upon a closer look, we’re doing everything these executioners ask us to? If you look to nearly any big-name publication in the coming weeks you’ll see the name of the Oregon shooter splattered across headlines. The face of the shooter will swirl around cyberspace as we “retweet” and “like” images in an attempt to spread the word and inform our peers. This will only give a name to an individual who doesn’t deserve one.

I understand the notion that media exists to inform, and the name of the shooter is certainly information. Their faces on our television screens may even serve as a reminder of the horrors that took place on that day, a reminder to remember to despise everything about the murderer.

The name and face of the shooter plastered across papers and screens and the minds of America won’t bring back the victims. It won’t help us understand why they were killed. This exaggerated publicity will only appeal to others with the same sick, twisted mindset as that of the Oregon shooter.

I urge you to think about this the next time you see the name or face of Oregon’s shooter anywhere. Think about the gift that infamy has given them. Think about the others who want the same warped notoriety.

We need to come together and fight the phenomenon of allowing murders to go down in history. Comment on every news story you see that uses the name or face of the shooter, imploring the publication to remove it. Do what you can.

Maybe we can hope that someday, years in the future, the world’s publications will band together against allowing terrible people undeserved fame once and for all.

Do not speak their names.


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