There’s been a lot of discussion over the last couple of days as to whether the videos sent to NBC by Seung-Hui Cho should have been aired. CBC was the first broadcaster to declare that they would not show the videos nor pictures of Cho holding guns. FoxNews changed its mind and stopped airing them and other news outlets, including CNN, have established policies on the use of the footage on their networks.
Should NBC have aired the footage? I don’t think they should have.
People who commit atrocious acts like this often want to receive attention and be remembered. Having their images and videos appear on virtually every television station and newspaper front page means that they’ve achieved this goal. Because many news outlets have websites, this inevitably means that it’s going to be immortalized forever because the Internet never forgets. Other people who are perhaps teetering on the edge of committing a similar act will see this attention and some will decide that it’s the way they can be remembered by history, as grusome as that may be.
One deterent would be to virtually eliminate this opportunity for celebrity by refusing to air the videos, pictures and writings that people like this create. It would go a long way to the person being little more than Seung-Hui Cho, 23, killed 32 people at Virginia Tech before taking his own life. No good is served by giving them an ever bigger soap box than they’ve already got.
The event was sad enough without having to subject the families of Cho’s victims to his rantings. And this includes Cho’s family.
Four days after the terrible shootings in Virginia, on the eighth anniversary of the Columbine shootings, a NASA contract worker at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston took two hostages, a man and a woman, and ended up killing the man before taking his own life. One has to wonder if this would have taken place if Cho’s videos and writings hadn’t been published.
CBS News’ website has an article that talks about NBC’s releasing the videos. It ends with the following, which I think hits the nail squarely on the head:
…FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt told MSNBC’s Tucker Carlson: “He wants to be able to reach his hand out of the grave and grab us by the throat and make us listen to him one more time.” He got his wish.
Incidentally, I have not seen any of the videos that Cho left behind and I have no desire to. My life will not be enriched by my seeing them.
My condolences go out to the families, friends, students and staff at Virginia Tech; the families, friends and co-workers of the NASA employees; and everyone affected by the shootings eight years ago at Columbine.