I recoil at seeing photographs of the smirking white racist who gunned down nine African-Americans in a Charleston church last week.
His actions, like those of so many other mass-murderers and terrorists, were directed not just toward his victims but toward us, the public. His actions were calculated to command our attention. This low-life left a manifesto explaining the influential effect he hoped his actions would have. His motive was to show up society. When journalists give this despicable creature publicity, they fulfill his perverted and malevolent dream of glory. They realize the image of what, without us, he could never be. Perversely, they grant the craven narcissist celebrity.
Society and the media should shun and ostracize actors who terrorize and assail society. Coverage of their actions should be bland: imageless, minimal, and uninteresting. The pronouncements, images, and names of terrorists and sociopathic killers should be consigned to annihilation, as beneath our acceptance or recognition. Let their names and deeds be publicly recalled only to the extent required in the justice system. Cast them into an acid bath of oblivion, consign them to social death, silently and without a second thought.
The virtuous stance of the victims’ families is far more worthy of our consideration, far more sensational, and fuller of the power that inspires our awe.