The obscene focus on killers: don't cooperate!

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Dec 03, 2015

Here’s a quick follow-up to my argument that we shouldn’t give free publicity to mass killers. This morning I read Facebook messages (posted last night) that gave at least ten different names to the San Bernardino shooters.

Why? What do you gain if you are the first person to name a murder suspect? Since the names will be unfamiliar to all your readers, what use can they make of that information?

And that assumes that your information is correct. If you’re rushing to put it out, there’s a very good chance that it’s not. If there were only two shooters in San Bernardino, then at least eight of those posts that I read this morning—80%—were wrong.

It's one thing to send out urgent messages to friends and neighbors, warning them to take cover if they're in danger. But when the tragedy is miles away, there's ordinarily nothing useful that we can do, except pray for everyone involved. If you feel a compulsion to learn all the gory details and share them with your acquaintances, you're allowing the killers to set your agenda.

So I won’t be impressed if you’re the first person to mention the name of a mass-killing suspect. Or rather, I’ll be impressed by the fact that you’re evidently spending your time web-surfing, collecting rumors. That time could be more productively used in looking up the meaning of “morose delectation.”

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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