Sometimes it’s about protecting baby chicks on the beach, sometimes it’s about protecting…our children.
America, it’s time we stepped up.
It’s time we picked up our defensive weaponry.
As Memorial Day approaches we prepare to honor our war dead. Over one million men and women have died in war for America.
They died on so many fronts to keep us safe in our home, our places of worship, our schools.
Only one percent of Americans serve in our military to keep us safe.
But there is a front on which the remaining 99% of us can fight. A front no one foresaw when brave souls went to serve and to die for America’s freedom and safety. The new front line is our home front.
There has been an average of one school shooting every week this year. More school children have been killed this year,(29) than troops in service around this globe, (13).
What can we all do about it? I’m not talking about a military response, not a police response…but a response from you and me.
Many of you have not had the privilege to serve in defense of America. You may have had school deferments, medical issues, weight issues, drug histories, arrest backgrounds or…you just chose not to volunteer. But now perhaps, is your time to serve. Sure, because others served for you, but more importantly because your service now can save lives.
My fellow veterans, you raised your hands before to volunteer for America. And many of you know the daily anxiety of potential death coming for you. That anxiety belongs on the battlefield, not school rooms. You marched with hand grenades, these kids walk with just homework. I suspect you’ll have no problem raising your hands, once again, to help on this home front.
Some of us think gun laws need to be tightened, some of us think gun rights need to be protected. Sure, more can be done with improved gun control, background checks, mental health assistance, hardened school protection. But these school shooting are mostly about infamy.
A big attraction of the school shooter is the attention he wants, the attention he demands, through his killing.
So why, for the most part, do we continue to give in to their quest for infamy? By giving him such notoriety, other potential shooters are inspired, incited.
It’s the media coverage that sets up the subsequent attacks, especially the photos and the names of the perpetrator. In this recent Texas shooting, the name and photo of the shooter were on CNN and most other TV channels. I saw his name and photo in my local Newsday and many other media sources. I suspect it’s in your local media as well.
The routine is predictable by now, headlines: “Mass shooting at Peaceville High School, Twelve dead.” Jaws drop in front of TVs, not dropped in shock, but in disgust. We are long past being shocked. It’s only the location and body count that give the event any shock. The nearer the school, the higher the body count, the more it grabs us.
News organizations declare they are there to serve a public good but they are also on that TV screen to make money. That means they need higher ratings. The more viewership they can tout the more they can charge advertisers to sell us more Zocor.
There is something in our human psyche that pulls us to drama, excitement. It’s the reason for, “If it bleeds it leads” policy in media. And apparently revealing the name and photo of the perpetrator is part of that policy. Media believes the public wants the names and photos revealed. And to a large degree, I think they are right.
But there is a movement going on now that I hope to propagate here. In a proposal by Adam Lankford and Eric Madfis called, “Don’t Name Them, Don’t Show Them, But Report Everything Else,” there is a way for us to stop the cycle:https://tinyurl.com/Lnkfrd-Mat
They propose that media refrain from using the name or photo of shooters unless such is necessary to capture him. Once he is arrested, however, it would work to the public’s benefit only to describe some of his prior pertinent habits and statements so that such activity might give the public profiles of what to look out for in family or acquaintances.
The evidence is quite stark that publicity encourages more copycat and contagion shootings.
The Columbine shooters expressed a desire to cause, “The most deaths in U.S. history…We’re hoping.”
The Tucson shooter, “I HAVE THIS HUGE GOAL AT THE END OF MY LIFE. 165 rounds fired in a minute.”
The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter posted online about the competition for attention between mass killers who receive the most fame, and why.
This recent Texas shooter said he did not shoot students he liked so they would tell his story.
It’s obvious from these statements that these shooters express their expectations through prior shooting reports.
And statistics show very clearly that the shooters are correct in their estimation that the most killed brings the most publicity. The shooters get rewarded by name and face publicity and copycat killers follow their ugly lead. Then, even more, copycat killers.
Langford and Matfis speak of the, now routine, policy of TV sports channels to refuse to show attendees of games who run onto the fields for publicity. However, an ESPN poll found that 70% of viewers would like to see the footage of those field trekkers.
What does all of this speak of America?
Obviously, the TV news outlets want to show the photos of school shooters because that’s what the public wants. And if they don’t give that to their viewers the viewers will change the channel to one that gives them what they want.
But I don’t think the average viewer realizes that his demand is causing future deaths in schools. If he did realize it he would demand that TV stations desist.
So, my fellow Americans, what is our priority? Do we want to do all we can to keep our children and teachers safe? Or is it more important that we see and know all that there is to see and know…including the shooter’s name and photo? Canada already has this No Name, No Photo policy and in this, we need to follow them.
As the proposers, Langford and Matfis suggest, maybe we need to be more supportive of news channels that refuse to name and photo these killers and scorn those who continue to do so. I say maybe go a step further and write the advertisers on these channels to express our feelings. Because that’s where the money is and that’s where our clout is.
So, America’s civilian troops, I urge you to lock, and load!
And if you heed this call for America, this Marine veteran salutes you. So, raise your rapid-fire cell phones, set the e-mail coordinates for your keyboard artillery.
Pay attention to who advertises what on a channel, CNN, Fox, all the networks.
Call your local and national media sources.
E-mail your print news sources.
Let them know your feelings and your viewing and buying options.
And remember your nuclear option…your vote.
Let your members of Congress know you demand change, not more moments of silence, not more thoughts and prayers. Let them know if you don’t like the way they are voting on this school shooting issue, you will vote them out.
We may not be able to stop all school shootings in this Home Theater of Operations. But if we can prevent just one lost student from picking up a gun, maybe the student in a school near you…wouldn’t it be worth it?
It’s time, America, choose your weapons. Because sometimes…it’s about the children.