Is it time for the media to stop naming mass killers?

Robert (Bobby) E. Crimo III Would you get on an elevator alone with this guy?(City of Highlands Parks).

One school of thought believes that some of the killings are done by copy-cats. They have seen all the national publicity their monstrous acts get and they’re looking for fame.

Why give it to them? Once they see that prior killers were never named, maybe they’d give up the idea of slaughtering people.

Another school of thought argues that the public has a right to know. Hiding the name won’t dissuade anyone because they’re motivated by something other and more evil that getting recognized. n.

I can come down on both sides.

While at the Chicago Sun-Times years ago, the managing editor asked a few of us whether the paper should name the gang affiliation of accused criminals. This was when the gang wars were better organized and discipline was enforced by gang leaders.

My answer then to whether names should be disclosed was “Hell, no!” As a reporter, I didn’t want to give aa gang anything that will help them with, say recruiting. “Look, we got our name in the paper! That’s how important we are!” As I recall we didn’t name the gangs.

Well before that, while a journalism student at Marquette University there was a discussion about whether the papers should print the mug shots of arrested suspects.

One side said no pictures should be published because that person has only been charged, not convicted. Innocent until proven guilty. Seemingly the greater concern was…racism. Printing pictures reveals race and because many or most of those arrested are black, the pictures were feed stereotypes. (That can’t be said today.) The discussion was decades ahead of its time; how many mug shots do you currently see published.

Well, except for the disgusting slime (pictured above) in the Highland Park, Illinois mass shootings. Would you get on an elevator alone with him? If we went on appearances alone this guy would be on terrorist, no-fly lists everywhere. So, is his published mug shot prejudicial?

Just asking.

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Comments

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  • Agree....notoriousness or going out in a blaze of glory can lead to hero worship of the wrong kind. There should be an effort to code name or not name these suspects or criminals. Maybe Suspect 7422HP or his prison number, or something undignified.

  • Awake the Rapper was still on Spotify yesterday, so I gave a listen. He has a few songs that glorify doing hideous things and failing to be noticed for doing the ordinary. There is no reason to publish their names, especially if they happen to live after committing the killings.

  • I don't care whether they name them or not...I care that another failure of the government bureaucracy to catch a mental/socially disturbed individual and gave him the means to buy guns, and expensive guns and ammo at that.....after they fail I am in line to be punished by having my Rights abridged

  • There is something to be said about not giving any kind of credibility to people who commit such crimes, but having said that I wonder what would be accomplished by instead assigning them code names or numbers. I don't believe it would deter future violence because the "copy cats" out there are turned on by the act rather than the name of the shooter. I go along with the idea of doing a better job of monitoring behavior and becoming more aware of the danger signs.

  • Kind of hard not to identify the suspect. If they are alive, they have to be arraigned, indicted, and tried and their identity would be revealed. We don’t have trials of anonymous suspects. There is some benefit to knowing how and why the incident occurred. The problem there is politicians politicize the facts. Maybe if the suspect is dead, then make them nameless.

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