When, in America, I wonder, will we finally declare a moratorium on media attention given to the perpetrators of mass murder?
Malcom Gladwell taught us why our uniquely American brand of public violence occurs. Not for retribution or gain, but for self-actualization, declaration of existence, perpetuation of legend, as if all these sad young men seek only to say, I was, through the mighty voice of mass media, with a gun as the pen which gleans their “teeming brain[s].” Society has taught us this: kill, spectacularly, and be remembered. Kill, and have your manifesto read. By all.
When will we withdraw this opportunity? When will we, as a media-driven society, say kill and be forgotten forever? We can do this. We have. To protect journalists and princes in war. For the noble likes of Donald Trump and Paris Hilton. When will our principled editors say kill, and have your name stricken from all records, your manifesto burned, and the memory of your victims honored with powerful silence?
John Keats feared death because of what he might never have accomplished in life. He wrote to be remembered. Yet if he knew that his poems would be burned, would he have written at all?
Remember Columbine, they say. Remember Sandy Hook and Santa Barbara. Yes, let’s. In silence.
WHEN I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,
Before high piled books, in charact’ry,
Hold like rich garners the full-ripen’d grain;
When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour!
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love!—then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.
…”When I have fears that I may cease to be,” by John Keats