I am a Tombstone Tourist: someone who loves to wander cemeteries. I find it akin to visiting a museum: an opportunity to enjoy rarely seen sculpture, intricate carvings, and amazing architecture, all in a tranquil outdoor setting. This blog is about cemetery culture, art, history, issues of death, and genealogy - subjects of current relevance. I usually find something that intrigues me and makes me want to dig deeper. Care to join me? Read on...
Friday, December 21, 2012
When Children Die
has been one week since the mass murder of 20 children and six adults in
this is not the original topic I had planned for the Friday before Christmas, I
believe it is one we need to take a closer look at – because mass killings are
becoming all too frequent in the U.S.
have always been the easiest to succumb among us.Throughout history, diseases have claimed countless lives –
especial those of children.In the
1600’s, it was small pox and the Plague.Add measles and scarlatina to the mix during the 1700’s.By the 1800’s, typhus and cholera were
two more deadly diseases taking countless lives.With the 20th century came the influenza pandemic
where 50 million people died, worldwide.
with the dawning of the 20th century, we were able to put health
issues to the forefront and began developing treatments and cures for those
childhood diseases.We began a
plan of treatment, inoculations, and the eradication of those deadly
diseases.We stepped up to protect
our children – as best we could.But by the end of the twentieth century, new threats had overtaken
Now, the top five major causes
of childhood deaths, ages 1 – 20, are accidents, cancer, drowning, homicide,
and suicide. It
is stunning and shameful that homicide is even on the list of five major causes
of death for children in the 21st century.But it is - the child murderer exists.
are three well-known types of mass killers in our world today; the serial
killer is defined as someone who commits a number of murders over a period of
time.The spree killer is one who
murders two or more people in various locations.The mass murderer kills several people in a single event,
like last Friday’s school shootings.
stats show that from 1980 to 2008, 4,685 people died in 965 mass murders in the
United States.The FBI classifies
a mass murderer is someone “who kills four or more people in a single
incident, not counting himself, in a single location.”
2006 and 2008 alone, the U.S. averaged 163 incidents of people killed in
clusters of four or more – mass murder.Mass murders have occurred in school, shopping malls, restaurants,
places of worship, work places, government buildings, and military bases in the
the over 900 mass murders that have happened since 1980, only two, at Westside
Middle School (1998) and Columbine High School (1999) - were carried out by
more than one shooter.Two
shooters each, were involved in those two school killings.
The “typical” mass murderer is a white male with an average age of
35.(Out of the 62 people who
committed mass murder, from 1980 to last Friday - only one has been a woman.)
Almost all were loners. Over half of them committed suicide at the scene.
indicate that the majority of mass murderers within the past 30 years in this
country had mental health issues – most had problems with rampage violence. Reports indicate that the murderer was
seeking revenge for some perceived shame, only he knew or imagined. Many
killers were reported to have been delusional, pathological, paranoid,
psychotic. Some were diagnosed as schizophrenic.
Experts say the mass murder externalizes his blame – punishing others for his
own faults. The victims may or may not be deliberately chosen.
The horrendous realization is when you consider that most mass
murders are well-planned executions.These events have been prepared for – in detail.These killers are not the victims -
they are ruthless murderers without empathy, conscious, or an understanding of
reality that is needed to live and function in our society.The true victims are those who are
James L Knoll
to James L. Knoll, in the Journal of American Academy of Psychiatry and
the Law, March 2010, “The pseudo-commando is a type of mass murderer
who kills in public during the daytime, plans his offense well in advance, and
comes prepared with a powerful arsenal of weapons. He has no escape planned and
expects to be killed during the incident. Research suggests that the
pseudo-commando is driven by strong feelings of anger and resentment, flowing
from beliefs about being persecuted or grossly mistreated. He views himself as
carrying out a highly personal agenda of payback.”
Adding to this crisis is the media – by not dealing with mass murder in a responsible manner.Clear, concise, and accurate reporting
seems to go by the wayside when a sensational and dramatic news story
occurs.News now takes on more of
a reality show format; get the names, get the sound bites, get the money shots.
Friday, media organizations across the country had to recant their information
as just plain wrong. When the Newtown Police Department issued a statement that
it would not release the name of the gunman, or information on the shooting
until it was verified, the media was not patient.There were ratings to consider – another media outlet to
scoop…All in all – it’s no longer
about the necessary information to keep us safe and informed; it’s about the
rating numbers, the sensationalism, the number of viewers watching that equals
the amount of money made.
did we, (How did we…) become a society that accepts a media that can’t wait to
release the name of the mass murderer, show his picture, and give him fame?
York Times columnist, David Brookes said last Friday that he felt the media
should not identify the gunman.I
agree. Stop making these mass murders ‘famous.’That is, after all, what they wanted, to be infamous, to go
down in history having “settled their score.” Do not release their names, their photos, information about
their childhoods, or family stories. Mourn those who should not have died – do
not give credence to the murderer for taking those lives.
Regarding the media's coverage
of such events, Charlie Brooker of the BBC’s Newsswipe summed it up well:
“If you don’t want
to propagate more mass murders, don’t start the story with sirens
blaring. Don’t have photographs of the killer. Don’t make this 24-7 coverage.
Do everything you can to not make the body count the lead story, not to make
the killer some kind of anti-hero. DO localize the story to the affected
community and make it as boring as possible in every other market.”
As a country, we should not; we cannot tolerate these acts of
senseless violence any longer.We
need to come together and start looking for answers, for our children, our