While I am no fan of the Brady campaigns use of inaccuracy, in this case they have used actual facts, to create a product that has the potential to reduce mass murder and homicide. This is quite different from their usual playback of blaming inanimate objects for societal failure. This concept has the potential to help start the process of alleviating those societal failures.
The Brady Campaign has developed a plugin for the Chrome browser that will block the names and photographs of any murderer from being displayed. Ogilvy and Mather are the marketing component of what they are calling “Zero Minutes of Fame”. The glorification of mass murder is a clear contributor to future acts of mass murder. That is not an opinion or idea; it’s a statically valid fact.
We know that nearly every mass murderer has studied and practically obsessed, about prior mass murderers. Certainly they look at the crime, the planning, and the equipment but mostly notably different from others is they focus on the notoriety and fame of the criminal. That is not to say that everyone who studies mass murderers is a potential threat, but there is no doubt that nearly every mass murders in the past 25 years have studied the actions of their predecessors online and in the media.
While I sincerely doubt many will bother to download and install the plugin, it does not mean the idea is bad. Its just poorly implemented at this time, or maybe more accurately, a first step in the process of generating support for the concept. Regardless, there are technical means we can use to eliminate the fame component of mass murder – and that is something both sides of the debate can probably agree on.
The supporting evidence for removing the “fame” component from mass murderers is overwhelming. Dave Grossman references the media fixation on violence as well as violence-based video games as a conditioning mechanism, which leads to the increasing body counts and incidence rates, which we seem to be seeing play out in our society. He refers to it as an attempt to get the next “High Score”. Not only are we desensitizing future generations to mass violence, but we are also conditioning them to get the “High Score”. That is a pretty dismal, but not inaccurate assessment of our cultural fascination with violence.
In Canada, an unofficial ban has emerged by collective agreement of many of their media outlets. Media outlets in Canada will not publish the name or images of the suspected or convicted killers. We see a similar agreement among US Media outlets when it comes to publishing the names and photographs of sexual assault victims. Rather than relying on media agreement, there is a strong case for legislation. The real potential solution lies in internet browsers to incorporate the equivalent filters as an automatic function.
I am not saying the public doesn’t have a right to know. I am saying our children have a right not to be inundated with violence and the glorification of mass murderers at every turn. They have right to grow up with a sense of security and that their fellow citizens are pursuing the same sense of community they have been taught to value. We can impact the fascination with violence and murder.
While I am generally not a fan of legislation, legislation barring media from publically publishing names and images of mass murderers may very well be a positive step in this case. While I am no fan of censorship by the government, I am perfectly comfortable with requiring people who want to access information on criminal activity to download an app or plugin, register and make that registration information public to Law Enforcement. Potentially we even require them to opt into the collection and analysis of how that data is viewed and or used.
We know mental illness is a progressive problem. Time and time again we look at the history of Mass Murderers and rarely if ever have their actions been random, unpredictable or completely out of character once we see collect and analyze the string of indicators. How long would it take to build a database of red flag behaviors based solely on internet searches that could flag a potential violent actor for observation or questioning? With modern technologies like IBM’s Watson and Google’s search algorithm, my guess is the raw data to build those profiles already exist.
We have a number of restrictions on our freedoms to allow for the safety and welfare of our community. Many believe those restrictions to be excessive, and frequently I fall into that category. When it comes to enabling future generations to live in a safer environment, I am gladly willing to register my name with law enforcement every time we create a case study on mass violence, homicide or terrorism. We have the technology to automate the assessment process and screen for potentially violent actors. What we lack is faith in our government to use it productively. From my perspective, I am willing to make the leap of faith on this issue.
Good for the Brady Campaign in this case. Now they merely need to apply the same scientific analysis to the rest of their positions. If they spend the next 25 years studying and pursuing actual solutions to problems like this one, maybe in 2041 we should consider forgiving them for the 25 years they have spent pursuing policies that increase violence in our society and restrict the freedom of Americans. I’m no fan of the constant barrage of fabrications from Brady Campaign, but I recognize a good idea when I see it – even when it comes from an organization as unreliable and unethical as this.
~ Aegis Academy