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July 20, 2012 12:40 PM This Time, Let’s Not Put the Killer’s Name in Lights

By Harold Pollack

Another atrocity, this time at a movie theater in Colorado.

I don’t know if I can prove it, but I feel confident that publicity provides a powerful motive to commit an atrocity. We seem to reward the perpetrators with such publicity every time. We do a lot to glorify villains. Movies like Silence of the Lambs build killers up to be much more interesting and impressive than they really are.

I wrote the following after Rep. Giffords was shot.

Time magazine arrived in my mailbox today. There are many ways to grace its cover. You can found Microsoft. You can date Taylor Swift. You can win the Nobel Prize. Or you can kill or wound nineteen people, including a judge, a congresswoman, and a nine-year-old child. There on this week’s cover is an artistically tweaked crazed mug shot of Jared Loughner.
In my view, Time made a huge mistake. Publicity is a very enticing motive for some violent people to commit atrocities. Eying that smirking pose, I believe Loughner got what he wanted: to see his name and his picture in lights across the world.

Must we give him that?

I hope Time and others do better this time. I don’t want to read the killer’s weird manifesto. I don’t want to see his face. I don’t want to see pornographic interest in his weaponry beyond what might usefully inform public policy.


Maybe the column-inches saved could be devoted to wonderful professionals in rehabilitative medicine, or to discuss how even the Affordable Care Act could have done more in the domain of long-term care for people disabled due to violence or a simple car wreck. Maybe Time could find some people wounded in a shooting in 1985. How are they doing? Do they need some form of help?

Just this once, let’s try shunning the sick little people who commit large crimes. It can’t hurt.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-based Community]

Harold Pollack is the Helen Ross Professor at the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago.
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Comments

  • Lolly on July 20, 2012 10:17 PM:

    Yeah, I'm staying away from Huffpost for the rest of the day to avoid that face.

    I hope any magazines that feature him on the cover have a serious drop in newstand sales.

  • Marc on July 21, 2012 9:03 AM: