His Twitter rampage culminated with a shameless plug: “I filmed the shooting see Facebook.”
The killer’s actions, caught on live TV Wednesday in Virginia, were not enough; he had also taped the horror from his vantage point before leading police on a car chase and sharing his evildoings.
He killed reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward, two former coworkers. He shot the interviewee, Vicki Gardner, but her injuries are not life threatening.
Violence. Narcissism. Real-time. Real life. Clickbait. The killer, a former TV news anchor, held his audience captivated.
And we, TV networks, news websites and social media, let him.
News outlets shared the raw TV footage before police even caught the killer, an unstable man who ultimately killed himself.
Twitter followers retweeted; friends on Facebook shared videos, many of which automatically played on people’s feeds.
Internet users and the media are not known for their self-restraint, and with this universally appalling situation, they fed us images of which we could not avert our eyes.
We let the killer create the vilest of viral videos. He played his audience sinisterly well.
We bestowed him his five seconds of infamy.
I’m no proponent of censorship – pushing the boundaries of free speech while working at a college newspaper has been liberating – but we owe it to the victims and their families to stop the infamy’s spread.
Not everything should be censored: As with any mass shooting, the victims should be mourned and celebrated. To censor this would be watering down the tragedy.
But with fame-seeking killers as obvious as Wednesday’s murderer, the best the public can do is censor themselves as best as possible from the heinous actions. Killers want the coverage. Killers want to be remembered. Let’s not let them have it.
I do not want to know the killer’s name.
I do not want to see his videos or photos.
I do not want to hear about this mentally unstable man’s manifesto, which was probably made to further fuel his actions’ flames.
I suggest censorship not because of fear or protecting ourselves from the tragic truth.
I suggest it because killers’ have had the spotlight far too long in this country.
And if the audience takes away the promise of infamy, perhaps self-glorifying slayings will be averted.