This week there have been a couple of horrific news stories involving outlandish and upsetting activity. We’re talking major gross-out stuff here.
In Florida, in case you missed it, police were called to deal with two naked men along a causeway near Miami Beach, one of whom was chewing the face off the other. The attack was only stopped when the assailant was shot and killed by police.
More recently, in usually-staid Canada, the big, unavoidable story is that a disturbed individual in Montreal allegedly killed a man, carved him up and mailed body parts off. It’s quite sensational, with new developments every few hours, but here is an initial summary from the National Post.
There’s speculation that the Florida attacker may have wigged out on drugs, possibly LSD or something called called bath salts. That one was horrible, absolutely, but probably wasn’t premeditated or designed to draw attention. (And maybe people should be thoroughly warned to stay off the bath salts.)
This current Canada case screams “look at me!” – which is the question I want to ask in this post.
Would it be better if we stopped looking?
Not ignore the collection and reporting of basic information. But maybe tone the coverage down? Lose the voyeuristic drama?
There’s no shortage of coverage, which means if you want all the details, they are out there. I work part-time and generally focus on human interest material. So I don’t have to cover the horrible stories. But I’m also a concerned citizen and a consumer of news.
Fire safety teaches that a blaze cannot occur without fuel, oxygen and heat. Eliminate any one of those three elements and the fire goes out.
What if attention functions like oxygen for certain violent individuals? Would we be better served by downplaying their actions, prosecuting suspects quietly and locking the convicted away with scant fanfare? (Or treating them if they are mentally ill.)
It may be impossible to control public appetite for sensational content. But is it healthy to actually stoke those fires?
As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome.