I’ve noticed, particularly on Facebook, that after some particularly grievous, horrific crime – the Boston Marathon bombing, the Sandy Hook, CT elementary school shootings, the Aurora, CO movie theater shootings – there is this contingent of folks who argue that we ought not mention the names of the accused, but should instead focus solely on the victims. It’s as though by not saying the names of the perpetrators, or alleged ones, it would deny them the fame they presumably wanted; this phenomenon exists even when the presumed criminal is already dead, such as in Sandy Hook situation. And this call for a wall of silence, on Facebook especially, seems particularly insistent.
In my lifetime, I don’t remember people saying we oughtn’t top mention the name of Lee Harvey Oswald (presumed killer of JFK) or Albert DeSalvo (the Boston Strangler). The first time I ever recall hearing this involved the killing of John Lennon, where certain fans, even writing about his death, to this day, won’t mention Mark David Chapman, as though, by not mentioning him, it would undo the events of December 8, 1980.
On the other hand, there’s another contingent out there who seem to relish the blow-by-blow of crimes, many of which I don’t know how they became national news. I read that Jodi Arias was convicted of murder last month, and that it was heavily covered by CNN, especially by that legal vulture Nancy Grace – her I do not like – yet I have no idea why this particular case is so significant (and don’t care to find out).
In this group seems to be the folks who debated where Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s remains should be buried; he was the elder brother accused in the Boston Marathon bombing. Frankly, I thought this was rather bizarre. There have been worse criminals who nevertheless have been interred.
It seems that if we don’t know the motivation and methodology of some of these major crimes, we can’t have that supposed “national debate” on gun control, mental health, and violence generally. But some of the blow-by-blow seems merely of prurient interest, and unbecoming. One wants a balance; of course, where that balance lies varies greatly among the citizenry.