Action Alert!

Stop treating mass murderers like celebrities!

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Dec 01, 2015

Has the New York Times ever run your life story? No, you say? They haven't run mine, either.

Have you ever gone on a shooting spree and killed several people? No? That's something else we have in common. And that's why the Times doesn't pay attention to us. 

Today's Times has a long story about the man arrested for a murderous rampage in Colorado. No, I won't provide a link, and I hope you won't read the article. And No, I won't mention the name of the alleged killer. But if you're curious, the Times will furnish you with photos of his seedy homes, quotes from his girlfriends, a rundown of his disconnected thoughts on religion, politics, and other matters. 

Why do "respectable" media outlets continue to give exhaustive coverage to killers? What purpose does the Times profile serve, apart from the obvious appeal to morbid curiosity? Other than law-enforcement officials, who really needs to know about the background and habits-- much less the chaotic thought processes-- of an accused mass murderer? 

Sure, the profile might sell a few newspapers. Against that, balance the possibility that there's some lonely, troubled man out there somewhere, reading the Times story, and thinking that although the world has never paid him much notice, he's finally figured out how to command public attention. 

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 See full bio.

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  • Posted by: james-w-anderson8230 - Jun. 17, 2016 10:37 PM ET USA

    Humanae vitae was pretty strong stuff.

  • Posted by: timothy.op - Jun. 17, 2016 7:34 PM ET USA

    To say that he was the 'weakest' is not saying a great deal, considering his formidable companions on the list of 21st century popes. Granting that I wasn't alive then, all that I know of him is cause for admiration.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Jun. 17, 2016 2:54 PM ET USA

    This makes it very obvious that it was not Pope Paul who held the Church together, but God the Holy Spirit. Unfathomable mysteries, indeed.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Jun. 16, 2016 7:19 PM ET USA

    Most profound statement I ever read in an encyclical: "Not that there lies under those species what was already there before, but something quite different; and that not only because of the faith of the Church, but in objective reality, since after the change of the substance or nature of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, nothing remains of the bread and wine but the appearances, under which Christ, whole and entire, in His physical "reality" is bodily present." Paul VI

  • Posted by: nix898049 - Dec. 03, 2015 5:14 PM ET USA

    Bingo! And today, more than ever. And stop this incessant pleading of WHY? Evil is IRRATIONAL. Got it? Just remember, the worst crime ever committed was on Good Friday. And we know how that turned out. Veni Emmanuel!

  • Posted by: bruno.cicconi7491 - Dec. 03, 2015 3:32 PM ET USA

    And the worst part is that it is clear that this kind of crime multiplies itself as a result of media coverage. When will the media make an assessment of its own responsibility in such atrocities?