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Must We Pay So Much Attention to Terrorists and Mass Murderers?

15 Apr

Hello again.  Some of you may have read how Adrianne Haslet-Davis, the dancer who lost part of one leg in the Boston Marathon bombings, walked off the set of Meet the Press just before the show aired, because producers reneged on their promise to not mention the bombers’ names.
Good for her for having the wit and guts to walk away when they went back on their word.  Most people are thrown for a loop when the rug is pulled out from under them, just before airing, and don’t know what to do.

But more to the point, I think she has a winning idea, something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. It’s kind of obvious, so perhaps you’ve thought of it too.

When we show pictures of terrorists and shooters on TV, when their names are all over the media, and when we hear about their backgrounds in a reporter’s attempt to figure out their motives, doesn’t it encourage others to seek the same perverse form of ‘glory’?  Aren’t we just inspiring more of the same?

Our 24 hour news cycle feeds these sociopaths’ hunger for attention, power and impact.  A person who feels like a ‘nobody’, with aspirations to grandeur, can see how they can become an instant rock star.

By refusing to call the bomber by name, Ms. Haslet-Davis denies him acknowledgement.  And if acknowledgement and public notoriety are the oxygen that fuels this twisted behavior, then she’s doing a pretty smart thing.  Can this go to policy?

Can our news shows and print vehicles report this kind of story without focusing on the perpetrator? Can a responsible story be written without publicizing the bad guy? I’d love to see some sort of consistent policy directed this way.
What do you think?  Is it possible?

Oh, and if you’re interested, Haslet-Davis just posted a statement on her website. It reads:

To whom it may concern,
I need to follow up on what I expressed to the coordinator, the host and the executive producer before I left the studio.

I needn't apologize for leaving you this morning, as you made your decision. I am not one to ask for people to wait on me hand and foot, for people to bend over backwards and leave their own well being to take care of mine...this is not my character nor is it my intent.

But I did specifically ask of two things for this interview, one being that his name (and you know to whom I refer to) not be mentioned in my presence. Your decision to back out on that promise you made and the horrific way you brought that decision to my attention just minutes prior to taping was not only a cowardice move but a dishonorable one as well. To say that I am hurt is an understatement, for you not only disrespected me, you disrespected the survivors of the bombing and the victims memories by blatantly disregarding this request and putting the value of a terrorist's name, who put a city in turmoil and caused irrevocable damage physically and emotionally to people of this city, over Boston's integrity, fortitude, and my personal well being.

My second request you know of, to be referred to as a survivor, not a victim. This one you honored, but I think you forget what a victim truly is defined as. For I will not be a victim, not on anyones level, whether it be from a terrorist, or the press.


Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award