The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
Whenever we have a mass shooting we need to stop encouraging the next mass shooting. How are we encouraging the next mass shooting? The media coverage we extend to the incident and to the shooter and the notoriety we indirectly give to the offender. We need to stop naming the shooter and showing the shooter’s photo. Think about it this way, our professional athletes who preform on the highest stage and win a championship and are awarded the MVP of the competition, how much coverage do they receive 30-60 minutes? These shooters receive non-stop national coverage for periods extending over a week with sensational headlines. We need to stop keeping score for these individuals and stop using all the adjectives like “Deadliest or Most killed since”. We need to focus on the healing and community coming together and getting assistance to the community.
The first mistake we make is we put our views and values on the shooter and we ask why they would do this. We have to first come to the realization that these people are very different from the rest of society. They are outcast that feel that society is against them and that resentment turns into rage. Then they see the coverage of the recent mass shooting and it plants the seed of thought. Their anger maybe towards a single person or organization, but these individuals who feel like society has forgotten them, start coming up with a plan to make sure that society never forgets them. Through our media coverage of current and past mass shooting events we are giving these types of people the blueprint to not only carryout but to do it more effectively than the previous mass shootings.
Most if not all of these type incidents are preventable. How are they preventable? In almost every case that I am aware of, someone known to the shooter could see the signs of hate towards a group or society. There are outbursts on social media, there is a change in demeanor and lifestyle when the shooter is preparing to go from the planning phase to carrying out the plan. We need to encourage people to come forward when they see these troubling signs of people so they can get help.
As a society we have to decide if we want to continue to encourage this type of behavior through our coverage of the events. Can we overcome our morbid fascination of needing/wanting all of the gruesome details of the event? Knowing the details of the event doesn’t help the current situation, it only encourages the next situation.
We have to change the way we report mass shooting events, to take the desire and notoriety away from the shooter. We have to move away from the sensationalism that is our media and focus on the compassion of the living.
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”-Albert Einstein
Darron Spencer is the author of Humane Policing: How Perspectives Can Influence Our Performance and founder of Humane Policing – Transforming Police Culture. For more information, visit humanepolicing.com.