The NYTimes was not alone in its rush to pander to the morbid interests of readers following the on-air murders in Moneta, Va. Publishing anything at all that the deceased perpetrator asked to be made public is immoral. Although knowing his name [Vester Flanagan aka Bruce Williams] will aid further research, publishing a photograph of the dead killer serves no useful purpose.
This bad behavior is profitable since it attracts readers. It also creates martyrs of evil doers and may fuel copycats. None of this benefits society. The right to free speech is one of our most important rights. Curtailing it for any reason is dangerous. On the other hand, responsible self-censorship is commendable.The media have responsibilities aside from informing the public.They should also act in the interests of the greater good.
There has been very little scientific study of the impact of publicized murder with respect to increased violence, although one study found a rise in suicides after such acts. Funding should be made available for this effort.
August 28, 2015 by B. Wallace, 121Contact