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Mass Shootings Mass Media

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https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/feb/10/columbine-parkland-gun-crime-dave-cullen

The writer was there, while Columbine was in progress.

From Columbine to Parkland: how we got the story wrong on mass shootings

After Columbine, Dave Cullen swore he would never write about a mass shooting again. But over the next 20 years, he realised that he and other journalists had a duty to destroy the deadly myths they had helped create

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. . . . The school shooter era. Even 10 years after Columbine, I still couldn’t perceive what we were living through in that way. No one could. It had been going on far too long, but it was hard to predict its endurance or trajectory. While I despise the media scorekeeping – awarding the killers titles like prizefighters, giving them exactly what they crave – one stat is worth noting: what was then the most notorious mass murder in recent American history no longer ranks in the top 10. Four of the five deadliest attacks in the US have occurred since then, three of them in the past three years. In a five-day period near the end of last month, the US suffered four mass murders in four different states: Louisiana, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Florida. This is not going away, it’s getting worse.

Twenty years later, I am still on this story not just because of what happened, but also because of how the media responded. We got it wrong. Absurdly wrong. We were shocked and horrified and desperate for answers, serving a public hungry for a reason for the “madness,” so we found an answer. It was wrong. . . .

 

As mentioned in one of the US political threads, the bolded was hardly even mentioned in the breathless opining over the government shutdown.

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Here are some of the most primary, salient points the writer of the above makes in this very long extract from his book:

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.... Past misconceptions were quickly projected on to the Columbine killers: imaginary heroes of the downtrodden concocted largely over the course of one afternoon.

In fact, the two were uninterested in their particular victims, just the body count. Mark Juergensmeyer, one of the great thinkers on terrorism, captured the essence of that phenomenon in one phrase: performance violence. A defining characteristic of terrorism is some sort of political agenda. But the Columbine killers realised they could employ those same tactics for their own petty self-aggrandisement. A whole generation of murderers have followed in their wake.

It took several months, but eventually all the major media concluded that we had the motive story hopelessly wrong. Within a year, most big print outlets had published some sort of correction. The problem was that hundreds of millions of people had gobbled up the early coverage – CNN logged its highest ratings in its history to that point, the New York Times page one featured Columbine for nine consecutive days – and hardly anyone noticed the corrections. They certainly didn’t dislodge readers’ entire conception of a seminal moment in modern American history. Myths are for ever....

. . . .I spent a decade after Columbine battling those myths, sorting the truth and eventually publishing a book, Columbine, around the 10th anniversary. Reporters still ask me what they should learn from the Columbine debacle, and I say get it right the first time, because we can never untell the myths we spin.

It was only in the second decade of the school shooter era that we discovered just how pernicious those Columbine myths would prove. An exhaustive secret service study found that most of the school shooters during that period were distraught and deeply depressed, with suicidal thoughts or intentions. Most felt a sense of loss or failure, and seemed to be crying out in desperation for a sense of power and a voice. They were rarely targeting the individuals they killed; the victims were collateral damage in the service of an impressive body count. I have taken to calling them spectacle murders, because they are essentially performances – and without the media, they have no stage. No voice. We play right into their hands. . . . .

 

 

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Not until decades after the Columbine media coverage got it all so wrong did the script finally flip:

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In the case of school shootings, that conundrum seemed unsolvable – until the Parkland kids flipped the script. David Hogg became the first mass shooting victim to become more famous than his attacker. It took him less than 24 hours. Two days later, Emma González went viral with her “We call BS” speech and was a household name across the US and much of Europe. In her first week on Twitter, she surpassed a million followers. Their attacker is a nobody.

 

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As this is 2019, the Columbine massacre occured in 1999, Parkland in 2018 -- here in 2019 people are forced to notice that and entire generation has come of age -- born, lived and in far too many cases, tragically, senselessly died -- during that time.  These are kids for whom the possibility of going to school in the morning and being shot dead or maimed for life before the school day finished was an all too real possibility.  They grew up with this becoming more so every year.

Thus, the Parkland kids -- the victims -- took hold of the narrative and flipped the script, from focus on the killers to those who live with the threat every day.  They knew, which seems to be something most adults in this country still seem not to know, that this is a virus, fed by media, and nothing people do can but a stop to it, except the media industry itself.

http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/02/columbine-author-dave-cullen-on-his-new-book-parkland.html

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Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold set the template. Nearly every shooter harkens back to them as the founding fathers — citing them by name, taking inspiration in their writings, and modeling their costumes, tactics, weapons, etc. The Columbine death toll isn’t even in the top ten anymore, yet sadly it’s grown in importance.

 

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It's so rare these days to see honesty in the media about the media.

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Since Parkland,  nearly 1200 more US kids have been killed by guns.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/nearly-1200-us-kids-dead-from-guns-since-parkland-massacre-report?ref=home
Valentine's Day here in the US got famous for the St. Valentine's Day Massacre -- which was scum killing scum.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Valentine's_Day_Massacre

--  which incidently, opens Some Like It Hot, when Jack Lemon and Tony Curtis go on the lam down to Florida, donning women's clothes as a disguise, as the two hapless musicians happened to witness what happened.

But now it's famous for the mass murder of kids in Florida by a desperate kid, twisted all out of shape by this toxic culture that glorifies the solitary mass murderer.

 

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