Housekeeping: Once Again, Why TTAG Publishes Spree Killers’ Names and Their Photo

Chris Mercer (courtes nbcnews.com)

When there’s a spree killing, The Truth About Guns publishes the name of the killer or killers, and his or her image. That’s our policy. For some reason, Chris Mercer’s homicidal attack at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College has triggered a particularly strong desire to refrain from naming the perpetrator and keep his picture out of the media, as both our commentariat and the LA Times story ‘Don’t say his name’: Oregon community wants to make shooter anonymous indicate. To quote a man who was anything but, I want to be perfectly clear . . .

Although TTAG has evolved into a pro-gun advocacy blog, our main thrust remains journalistic. As a journalist with some 20 years in experience, I feel an obligation to report facts. One of the facts of the Umpqua slaughter is that the killer’s name was Chris Mercer. If I hid that fact or shunned his picture, it would betray the ethos underlying this entire endeavor.

Not to put too fine a point on it, this website is called The Truth About Guns. Not The Positive Spin on Guns. In the same sense that calling gun control “gun safety” obfuscates the truth about the crusade for civilian disarmament, only referring to Chris Mercer as “the killer” and eschewing his picture blunts the truth about his crime.

Mercer may be an archetype, but he’s also a man. A specific man with a specific history. We need to examine his nature, the full and complete facts surrounding the killing, to gain insight into what we can and cannot do to stop similar slaughter – before, during and afterwards.

I’ll go further.

Voldemorting Mercer is infantile. It reflects a completely understandable, but ultimately fruitless desire to turn away from the full horror unleashed by the Army reject. To deny Mercer’s existence is childish. As adults with adult responsibilities we have to face evil men and women head-on. Because there will other spree killers, and further terrorist attacks on innocent Americans. Our best weapons against them are vigilance, courage and clarity. And, of course, guns.

comments

  1. avatar Mike Crognale says:

    Precisely.

    1. avatar NineShooter says:

      Baloney.

      His photo had nothing to do with how/why he did what he did.

      His name had nothing to do with how/why he did what he did.

      We can investigate all aspects of this scumbag’s life and publicize any/all details that might be pertinent to future prevention and/or detection of similar scumbags, including mental illnesses/treatments and police arrest/conviction records, without ever mentioning his name or showing his photo. Which is exactly what the media voluntarily do for teen suicides, and have done for years.

      It might actually be EASIER to publicize details of criminal records and medical records if there is no name attached to invoke privacy laws.

      “Oct2015Scumbag#1” and a photo of a fresh turd works for me.

  2. avatar SpecialK says:

    On the other side of the coin, you are giving him EXACTLY what he wanted and providing the next spree killer with a dangerous incentive. And the crap about acting like an adult and vigilance and honor is something I would expect from an anti: an appeal to emotion dressed in puffery. We already know what we need to do to stop these lunatics, and step the first step should be to deny them the perverse fame they hope to obtain.

    1. avatar Mk10108 says:

      One cannot spend one side of a coin, nor see the the other side without taking action to observe it.

    2. avatar Tom in Georgia says:

      I’m of the mind that two properly aimed shots to center mass, and one to the head if the first two do not have an immediate effect, will take care of that perverse fame problem. The problem is that it’s not applied when called for.

      Tom

      PS:I’m speaking as a former journalist as well, although I left the field in college when it became clear that it was nothing but a den of snakes and thieves.

    3. avatar Mike in Texas says:

      I wholeheartedly agree. We can no longer shame this dead person. Since that is so, he should be denied one of his primary aim … fame (or even, infamy).

      I also agree that your (Robert’s) appeal is emotion based and while I can respect his viewpoint on journalistic integrity, I believe it is misplaced. Not seeing his picture and not hearing his name really diminishes the story in no way whatsoever. It does not inform the reader of any salient fact. Why he did, what he did, how he did, when he did, where he did – sure, that’s all important. His name – unless we actually knew him, not really.

      Deny the crazed and evil shooter his goal and you have some chance of dissuading his copiers and acolytes.

    4. avatar Galtha58 says:

      TTAG not showing his picture or mentioning his name would do almost nothing to keep him invisible or stop his perceived notoriety. There are far too many other news sources that are already doing that. I see no real point in TTAG being the only source not doing that.

      1. avatar Joe says:

        For what it is worth, here is what the guy really looked like, and the way he is being portrayed by the media.
        http://www.infowars.com/cnn-turns-mixed-race-oregon-shooter-into-a-white-man/

    5. avatar Mike in Texas says:

      Though I commented several times on this issue, here is an excellent analysis that is hard to encapsulate on a message board. Also, notice the links to related stories. http://www.nationalreview.com/article/425103/mass-shooting-suicide-umpqua-media-werther-syndrome

  3. avatar AhClem says:

    I had to deal with journalists quite a bit in my former career. With rare exceptions, most shunned “ethics” in favor of print inches, air time or, in TTAGs case, page views. Most ignored, or delighted in, the negative repercussions of their actions. “Freedom of the Press” or “Prior Restraint ” served as their rationalizations.

    So you admit that your training and ethics allow you to ignore the encouragement you provide to other individuals like this aggrieved nut? Shame on you!

    1. avatar AJ187 says:

      Exactly! I will refrain from reading on further as I’m sure more boot licking will ensue from “loyal readers.” I too was a trained and practiced journalism and understand the desire to produce the facts, but there is the concept of giving readership what they ask for. TTAG is on the wrong side of subject. Not observing that the recent call NOT to name the shooter/show their face is the PUBLIC demanding better from their press outlets. The same call would be greatly appreciated by so many pro gun people if stories also lacked the hyperbolic, misleading facts on guns, the circumstances of laws ignored during their use and the general feeling that most of the free press is just dancing around in the blood of their victims for exposure. All of which will only inspire more of these killers. Just because everyone is doing it does not mean you can’t take a stand not to. That to me is true courage and the most ethical choice.

  4. avatar MamaLiberty says:

    I fully agree. He’s dead, and is no longer able to enjoy the notoriety. Others who might enjoy it won’t really care if his name is attached or not. They have different agendas, I’m sure.

    Hiding the name and photo of the monster will not prevent anyone else from following in his tracks. Including them, as sickening as they are, keeps things above board and on track.

    Thank you TTAG, for keeping things on track – even though some of us disagree with your conclusions at times. At least you provide an honest platform to discuss those too.

    1. avatar TX Gungal says:

      “He’s dead, and is no longer able to enjoy the notoriety.”
      Well, yes he is dead and by his own hand, and if he expected to be infamous for his deeds, he is a piker compared to devil pleasing Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot.
      He wanted to die, simple as that and probably a common denominator in these modern day malcontents who are too gutless to do it by themselves ,on their own. Only thing that will deter this kind of future event, is eliminate gun free zones, stop providing fire at will zones.

      1. avatar MamaLiberty says:

        Indeed, and we need to keep the focus on the evil person who did this. If we don’t, then the MSM gets to run with the propaganda that the “gun” was responsible. That’s not happening at TTAG.

    2. avatar Smokey says:

      He can’t enjoy it NOW but he knew his story would be told before he committed this act. Now future killers know their story will be told and they just might get their name in history, whereas with living a normal life they would die in obscurity.

      1. avatar doesky2 says:

        Exactly.

        The psychology of copy cat suicide is well known and predictable.
        A future mass-murderer is banking on the fact that TTAG will publish his face and name.

    3. avatar Chip Bennett says:

      +1 to the OP and to MamaLiberty.

  5. avatar Grindstone says:

    Whatever you have to tell yourself, Robert.

    As a journalist with some 20 years in experience, I feel an obligation to report facts. One of the facts of the Umpqua slaughter is that the killer’s name was Chris Mercer. If I hid that fact or shunned his picture, it would betray the ethos underlying this entire endeavor.

    How about a “journalistic endeavor” about urinal cakes?

    1. avatar Accur81 says:

      Come up with a better blog, then.

      1. avatar Grindstone says:

        Do you ask every movie critic to make their own movie?

  6. avatar Gunr says:

    You cannot hide your head in the sand just because of bad happenings. The more we learn about this ass holes dreams, desires, fetishes, and what he’s been reading and doing, and saying, the more we can learn how to cut down, or stop the next mass shooting.

    1. avatar whatever says:

      What if the way to stop the next mass shooting is to stop giving these guys media attention?

      1. avatar Bob R says:

        Good question, but do we really think that’s the primary cause? Most if not all of these people were basically suicidal which absolutely means they have very serious mental healthy issues.

        Just going out and killing people whether suicidal or not again absolutely means there are very serious mental health issues going on.

        We need to find out what caused these mental health issues and take steps to make sure they don’t develop. That’s the root of the problem IMO, and then publicity becomes a non-issue.

        1. avatar MarkPA says:

          I don’t think that copy-catting is the primary motivation; nor do I think that many people believe it might be. I agree that we need to get at underlying causes – mental illness – and not dwell excessively on peripheral issues.

          Even so, I can imagine one of these mentally-ill individuals:
          – simply committing suicide;
          – making a statement by killing 1+ others;
          – attempting to leave his mark by killing a large number of victims.

          I do think it’s legitimate to wonder the extent to which publicizing the high-water-mark along with the identity (name and image) of the perp who set this high-water-mark might motivate the next perp to achieve a new record. Keeping the few highest casualty rates permanently confidential (to all but the most serious researchers) seems to be worth considering. Embargoing for a few weeks the identity of perpetrators also seems worth considering.

          Society and publishers are going to have to wrestle with their sentiments about such embargo. I don’t claim that the conjectures lead clearly to any particular correct answer. I have no illusion that the information will eventually leak; however, we can aspire to disassociate these 3 bits (name, image and casualty-counts) from the explosion of news in the wake of the event.

          Ultimately, the MSM may simply announce that the 1A freedom of the press is sacred. OK, then, we too can claim that the RKBA is equally sacred. If we refuse to discuss the embargoing of perpetrator’s identity and casualty counts then we foregone a valuable rhetorical opportunity.

    2. avatar jsj says:

      If we aren’t given a name, then we’ll have to depend on the MSM with their agendas intact to tell give us the “Why” part of the story. We’ll never know the truth. Instead every spree killer will magically be a white boy from a middle class family with no Muslim friends.
      The pic and name don’t need to be splashed on TV 24X7, but they do need to be made public.

      1. avatar MarkPA says:

        I agree that the background of the perps needs to be discussed lest the MSM mis-characterize them as “Republicans” (vs. admirers of the Irish Republican Army).

        How does the spelling of the name of a perpetrator inform the analysis of the background facts?
        How does the image of the perpetrator inform the analysis of the background facts?
        How does announcing the casualty count (in the range of historical high-water-mark) inform?

        Apart from maintaining near secrecy of the precise level of the high-water-mark (to all but serious researchers), I think its sufficient to de-sensationalize the name and image of the perpetrators. The media will need to know the name to drill into background information. Will the MSM really need to publish the name in large bold type “above the fold”? Will the media really need to publish the image of the perpetrator “above the fold”?

        If imagery is really what sells newspapers’ (and TV’s) advertising then why not publish the pictures of the victims’ bodies bleeding on the ground? Arn’t these facts too? Or, is there some social value in whatever it is that society regards as “good taste”? Admittedly, “good taste” is purely a subjective social construct. We “the People” can regard whatever it is that we like to be in “good” or “poor” taste.

        Somehow, we have regarded it as being in poor taste to publish the names/images of minors who are perpetrators. Likewise for the names/images of victims of rape. Likewise for the bloodied bodies of victims killed. Is it time for our society to begin to think about whether it is in “good” or “poor” taste to publish the names and images of mass murderers?

        As food for thought (i.e., rhetoric): “As long as the public demands the right of the free press to publish the names and images of mass-murderers perhaps the public ought to demand the right of innocents to bear arms in self-defense. The social utility of these rights ought to trump the speculative social costs that mass-murders might be encouraged or that law-abiding citizens might use arms irresponsibly.

  7. avatar Jack Griffin says:

    Wow, so noble. Something-something urinal cakes.

    Post his picture twice, you’ve made your point.

    Post his picture six times, you’re working that clickbait.

    Post his picture with every article? Stop 9/11 Coverage-ing us, dude.

    It isn’t “good journalism,” it’s low brow tabloid mania. “ZOMG, look at the evil!”

    I don’t need to see the towers fall 5,000 times to know something bad happened.

    And I don’t need to see another face of an empty soul that’ll be replaced by a new one (brought to you by SSRIs) a month from now.

    I guess I just don’t get the weird “His Name was Robert Paulson” logic of posting the killer’s basement glamour shots with every. single. article.

    You say you’re just facing the problem. I say you’re in our face with the obvious.

    You’re talking about the wrong, Chris. Chris Mintz is a man. Chris Mercer was a disease.

    1. avatar S_J says:

      +1000

      Not publishing the gunman’s name and picture has nothing to do with being an adult and not living in fear of boogeymen; this is about denying a psychotic waste of tissue the satisfaction and attention he sought in death. Why give it to him? He lived as an anonymous piece of shit, he died the same way. Nothing of value was lost.

      1. avatar Jack Griffin says:

        Hell, publish the names all you want… I’m just tired of seeing their stupid faces plastered all over the place like they’re rock stars or political candidates.

        1. avatar Stinkeye says:

          That’s where I’m at, too. Not publishing the killer’s name is unrealistic and sort of pointless. Exploring the background and motivations of these monsters is potentially worthwhile. But the constant reprinting of the same one or two grainy photos of these shitheads’ vacant, staring mugs adds nothing to the story, other than to satisfy macabre curiosity and increase the killer’s notoriety and glamorize his actions (and thus adding to the potential motivation of future killers who seem to fear, above all else, dying an anonymous nobody).

  8. avatar Roymond says:

    Responsible journalism doesn’t join in on being accessory to future shootings.

    During WWII the press agreed to be responsible and not publish a lot of things they knew because those things might help the enemy if they knew. It’s time for journalists to be responsible again by not publishing the names or pictures of these animals.

    If someone came up with a way to make a nuclear weapon from parts available at a local hardware store, would you publish the diagrams?

    1. avatar Mike in Texas says:

      ZING! Nice perspective Roy.

    2. avatar Indiana Tom says:

      If someone came up with a way to make a nuclear weapon from parts available at a local hardware store, would you publish the diagrams?
      ISIS could get that off Hitlery’s server.
      Substitute gun for nuclear weapon and this is what Obonzo’s new Executive Orders will do and more.

  9. avatar Hannibal says:

    “If I hid that fact or shunned his picture, it would betray the ethos underlying this entire endeavor.”

    Uh, no. Just because you say something doesn’t make it true. Pretending your disgusting clickbait is journalism is laughable. It used to be that when people decided to go out with a bang they’d blow their own fool heads off. Now they go for the fame of trying to get the highest bodycount so their photo will be all over.

    You’re part of the problem of these mass shootings, congratulations.

  10. avatar M J Johnson says:

    “Voldermorting.” I like it.

    As for posting the name and photos of spree killers – It’s your blog. Do what you want. Those who don’t like it will either fuss about it and stay, funs about it and leave, or just fuss about it. That’s their prerogative.

  11. avatar An English Person says:

    Mercer is the name of the British NRA’s CEO; any relation?

    http://www.nra.org.uk/common/asp/staff/staff.asp?site=NRA&id=140&org=

    1. avatar Joe says:

      I doubt it AEP…The news had his ‘white trash looking’ English father, saying that if his son hadn’t been able to purchase thirteen guns, this wouldn’t have happened…as though he couldn’t have done it with one.

  12. avatar Roy says:

    I dont care if its what the spree killer wanted. Im interested in the killer’s name, pictures, and motivations. I dont need a justification, I just am. And if Im interested in it for no particular reason, theres crap loads others who are also interested.

  13. avatar Rusty Chains says:

    Ultimately you have this right. The anti-gun types want to keep this all about the gun. We need to keep the focus on the person, the bad guy, because it is not about the tool. How many of us have said something like “we don’t blame the car for the crash caused by the drunk driver” that is the other face of this same coin. The coin of our realm is blame the bad guy, not the tool he chose to use. That means we focus on the bad guy including his name and his picture.

    1. avatar racer88 says:

      Good point. And, I agree with RF.

      I do get the notion that copycats may be motivated to duplicate the notoriety. However, I believe that it’s an oversimplification to believe that such copycat tendencies, ALONE, are enough to precipitate a mass murder. It’s as much an oversimplification as it is to believe that the presence of a firearm precipitates such crimes.

  14. avatar Paul53 says:

    His shoe size is a fact that means just as much to me as his name. But on a site like this, whatever.
    On the 24 hour news channels they publish (aka “analyze”) this stuff that it becomes like an instruction manual of how to become famous. Teens especially, but some people into early twenties, and mentally ill are sorting out their personalities and how they fit into the world. Few people live the kind of life you see on TV. If you’re bored and impressionable, well, you get the idea.

  15. avatar Don says:

    We live in a real world, with real monsters. Our local schools had an alert Friday and we were called to come pick up our daughter from first grade. The school was dark and silent, the doors locked, all the students sheltering in place behind locked classroom doors. We had to explain to our six year old that there were in fact boogeymen that would seek to do harm to children, that they were not shapeless monsters living under her bed or in her closet, that they were men and women and walked among us every day. We also told her though that they were rare and other adults , her parents, her teachers, police and firemen, would always stand to protect her and her friends if in fact the boogeyman came, that she should be prepared and brave but not to worry too much about it. Let us face the monsters, let them be real to us, so we can diminish their power. The anti’s live in the fantasy world with cotton candy rainbows and unicorns not us. Let us publish their names and pictures and history and tell the world that they are sick criminals of the worst sort. Not glory or notoriety, but let them be held up as examples of the evil and sickness and depravity prevalent in our society. We cannot allow this to continue on that I agree. Let’s find a way to stop these people, and the last line of defense must be an armed defense. Without exception these shooters are always stopped by armed defenders shooting them or the threatened arrival of same, causing these cowards to commit suicide. Put a name and a face on this crime so we can deal with the reality of it.

    1. avatar RetiredJarhead says:

      Bravo.

  16. avatar foggy says:

    I’m not surprised to see most of the usual suspects complaining about this, and yet they continue to post here.

  17. avatar Tom W. says:

    I sense a small, or perhaps larger measure of whinyness. “Don’t publish his name, don’t give him the publicity, etc,.. Et al. Last time I checked, HE’S STILL DEAD!
    There are evildoers, and bogeymen, and monsters in this world, and we better put our big boy pants on and face it head on. This PC crap is one reason the MSM credibility is in the toilet, and also why career politicians rate up about as high as a hemorrhoid. With this logic no more mentioning Lee Harvey Oswald, Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, Dylan Roof? Etc…
    Keep it up TTAG.

    1. avatar Mike in Texas says:

      Not giving posthumous notoriety – one of his stated and MOTIVATING goals, does not mean that we do not have our big boy pants on by denying evil exists. Nor does it, in any way imaginable, remove the necessity of acting in confronting evil. You can have your opinion, but ascribing ignorance or childishness to our (opposing) viewpoints is ad hominem and unworthy in a discussion of this significance.

  18. avatar jon in wa says:

    As much as myself and others may disagree. I respect your right to stick to your own principles.

  19. avatar Curtis in IL says:

    What I’ve noticed about “journalists,” here and elsewhere, is that they freely, often condescendingly, define their own occupation and their own objectives. They write their own code of conduct, develop their own set of moral standards to override all other sets of moral standards, then hold it up as a shield against all criticism.

    Ultimately, it’s the consumers of journalism who will determine what standards are acceptable. Those not meeting the standards won’t be very successful (reference: Fox News vs. MSNBC).

    The next deranged mass-murderer won’t give a rip about what gets posted on TTAG. They’re too busy watching the mainstream media turn Mercer into a celebrity. But personally, if I never see another photo of that evil monster’s face, it’ll be too soon.

  20. avatar actionphysicalman says:

    If you don’t want killers names and pictures published on a website, create your own website and don’t publish them.

  21. avatar Gabe says:

    Seriously? You’re going to spin your clickbait into journalistic integrity? This is a new low for TTAG because you’re smarter than that and you know damn well that most of your readers are too.
    If you really wanted to do something positive with this, maybe try to see that this just might be the common ground that we share with many antis. Maybe consider what Noir said in his last commentary about stopping mass shooters and maybe just maybe we could actually gain ground by working with the “other team” to pressure big media into not turning sick killers into rockstars which inspires the next one…and the next one…and… In fact, didn’t this last sicko write something about “us ignored people are about to be famous” or some crap? You’re giving him EXACTLY what he wanted.

    Good grief man, be a leader and break the cycle…inspire others to try something new because what you all (the media) are doing now is obviously not accomplishing anything positive. Unless your measure of success is racking up those clicks…think about it.

    I think I’m done here for a while and I’m guessing that you’ve just turned off a lot of readers. Insulting the intelligence of your audience (with that integrity spin) to keep the clicks a coming, just might yield the opposite of the desired effect.

    1. avatar doesky2 says:

      Yep, so in the end RF justifies his warped ethics so that he can maybe one day get invited to a cocktail party inside the beltway.

      For some reason he thinks there is ethics in the crumbling whorehouse of the Obama cheerleading squad.

      Please explain what the NAME and PHOTO adds to the value of the discussion about how to reduce mass-murders?

      That’s right, nothing POSITIVE added….and everything NEGATIVE.

      If some azzwipe wants to know the name/photo they can find out by a 5 second google search.

      But if there was a true voluntary embargo of name/photo by the vast majority of mass media then at least that craving to the potential killer is not an enticement.

      There is no downside to a name/photo embargo.

    2. avatar foo dog says:

      Gabe, fyi- dont let the door hit you on the a$$ on the way out.

      No one buys the outraged child thought-process- “If you dont agree I am going to take my football and go home”.
      Typical narcissistic troll.

  22. avatar Ralph says:

    We need more deep thinkers who believe that if TTAG doesn’t run the name and picture of a BG, said BG will fade into obscurity.

    Look, deep thinkers, the only people who read this blog are us and Dirk’s GF and company. I’m beginning to think that the deep thinkers fall into the latter category.

  23. avatar FedUp says:

    It is, in effect, a murder for hire scheme. Publicizing him post mortem is the payout.
    If you do a really good job of it, as this chap did, the payout is about a billion dollars worth of free airtime. TTAG might be responsible for $100 of that total, the MSM is the main problem.

    Here’s a quote for you from the pissant in question: “The more people you kill, the more you’re in the limelight.”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3256633/Shooter-Oregon-community-college-kills-people-campus.html

  24. avatar Anon says:

    Completely disagree with TTAG on this one. Their primary motivation is almost completely the same as journalists (including TTAG) who profit off their crimes, they want notoriety and they want to be heard. There’s a reason why the vast majority of these guys wrote manifestos, they’re egotists who honestly think they have some profound message that needs to be heard, regardless of whether they’re around to hear others reactions, and going on a shooting/bombing/stabbing rampage is usually the easiest way to gain the attention of armchair psychologists and journalists who would love to express their equally as unimportant opinions on the matter.

  25. avatar doesky2 says:

    You know….. a more reflective person might seriously question themselves when they find themselves on the same ethical side as ABC, CBS, MSNBC, NBC, NPR, WaPo, and the modern leftist university.

  26. avatar Mk10108 says:

    Make a inverted pyramid chart. Show every madman at the bottom and the ones killed and wounded above them. Then ask if one was armed and willing to protect themselves, perhaps over time the pile would get smaller.

  27. avatar doesky2 says:

    Well now that you put your reasoning down on paper I kinda just puked in my mouth.

  28. avatar Former Water Walker says:

    I’m with YOU RF. And Ralph put it well. Don’t like it? Start your own blog. Good luck with that and getting anyone to care. Besides the “we won’t publish his name” BS from the local Oregon cops fueled(and still fuels) speculation of crazy boyz connection with muslims and other anti-human evil-doers. Any fame won’t reach this boy in hell anyway. It seems a few regulars are drifting into ad hominem territory about you RF. Want politics free? Read the non-political political Gun Blog…

  29. avatar lowell says:

    You post the name and photo because if you don’t it’s just a myth. It becomes, “oh, hey I heard a bunch of people got shot by some guy.” A face and a name makes it real, and more importantly VERIFIABLE.

  30. avatar Steve B says:

    I understand your desire to report the facts and also agree that this human piece of excrement is dead which is a good thing. That said, I do feel somewhat conflicted, because I do feel that by publishing his name, history and pictures of him is not only giving him exactly what he was seeking, so in a sense rewarding him for his twisted desires and actions, but I also feel that it potentially fuels other sick minds seeking infamy. Omitting his identity while still reporting the events does not equate to sticking our heads in the sand. We still are aware of the evil that exists out there and we know the steps that we need to take to dispatch such evil. So, respectfully, I guess that I lean more in the direction of those who disagree with publishing the identities of people who commit these mass shootings in their pursuit of fame.

  31. avatar Gary Walters says:

    The main thrust here is not journalistic. It’s a pro-gun site that crosses lines of decency, or at least propriety, frequently. I’m pro-gun, too, a subscriber, and I’m good with the site. That is, until you claim more than you are. The only ethics in operation here is the click, so print the name and pictures if you will, but there’s nothing noble about it, and I would be damn slow to criticize those who don’t want to give the next shooter a vision of the fame that awaits.

  32. avatar MarkPA says:

    It’s your blog and you have a 1A right to do what you want to do. That conceded, I think that there is enough of a copy-cat rationale to justify an “embargo” (a standard journalistic practice) for an agreed upon period (3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months). I’d like to see a temporary embargo on the perpetrator’s image and name. I’d like to see a permanent embargo on the precise casualty figures for the top tier (e.g., top 1/4 to 1/3 of historical casualties.) Make the top figures available only to researchers who use the data only for statistical analysis.

    Granted, what I propose won’t help to “sell newspapers”. And, therefore, it would be self-restraint upon the freedom of the press. So, I suppose that if we have to reason about the sanctity of one right in the Constitution then I suppose that the press will have to concede that there might be another Constitutional right worthy of sacrosanct status.

    After all, what of a few casualties in a mass shooting if it might sell just one newspaper.

  33. Anyone who thinks I run this site for personal profit, who thinks Dan or I choose material based on a crass desire for clicks, is mistaken.

    1. avatar Mike in Texas says:

      RF, certainly some on both sides have been less than gracious in their comments. That said, so were you in an outright dismissal of the opposing view and even the “why” of your view.

      Someone mentioned boycotting your site or starting another … Oh well, people will do as they see fit. That said, TTAG is a wonderful and entertaining and enlightening resource and though I disagree with you very strongly on this (and carrying weapons during threesomes), I for one will still be here every day.

      And therein is the rub. We are getting all in your face BECAUSE we feel like a part of what you guys have created and we respect you for it. And thank you for it. We are hoping to provide interaction that makes your endeavors better for all. Even if sometimes we are a bit bitchy in how we state it.

    2. avatar Curtis in IL says:

      Then why do you run this blog?
      Seriously, I thought this is how you earn a living and pay the bills. Maybe I was wrong. In any event, there’s nothing wrong with running a business for profit.

      Urinal screens notwithstanding.

  34. avatar Tom in Georgia says:

    Look folks, we don’t have to (and quite honestly, can’t pretend to) understand what makes these spree killers go off. I agree with the premise that glorification is causing more of the same, but denial isn’t going to make the problem go away, either.

    First and foremost, we just need to be able to deal with it as it happens. Simply put, repeal gun-free zone legislation. No more, no less. Beyond that I think it is good that we can debate all this here but we have GOT to be able to deal with the immediate problem at hand first.

    As I said, two to center mass, one to the head if the first two don’t work. After a few such responses I think we will see a marked decrease in these kinds of incidents.

    Tom

    1. avatar Mike in Texas says:

      Tom, pithy you may be; but wrong … Deadly wrong. How many spree killers kill themselves or fight with the police to the point they are killed? I suggest it is virtually all of them. So your double tap and head shot will not curtail anyone who has already made that decision for themselves.

      Shooting them, maiming them, and killing them does not seem to work. Denying them notoriety may have an impact. If I am wrong, have we really lost anything in the process of trying it out?

      1. avatar Tom in Georgia says:

        Mike, it was not my intention to be pithy. I simply pointed out what should be screamingly obvious – you don’t have to understand it, you just have to deal with it. Hell, ask any detective to explain a murder suspect to you. Chances are he can’t. That’s when he just has to deal with the problem at hand. Repealing gun-free zones and allowing citizens to carry a sidearm, either openly or concealed, will be the most effective way of dealing with this particular problem. That’s all I was trying to get at. Try not to read too much into what I say sometimes, please.

        Tom

  35. avatar Mikial says:

    The media is a bane of modern society. All they really care about is the sensational story that can be drug out of a week or two and sell lots of advertising. If they really cared, they wouldn’t sensationalize these assholes, and thereby influence copycats. but like all Liberals, they are self serving hypocrites.

  36. avatar snug says:

    I appreciate your journalistic professionalism.

  37. avatar tirod says:

    Oh, that Austrian guy who was some kind of artist in Vienna, we need to quit talking about him or publishing his photo, Don’t mention about his prior service In WWI, or his political failure, being incarcerated, publishing a manifesto, rising to the top in street politics, organizing large groups of operators, engineering an election, becoming the head of State, and launching another World War to dominate Europe.

    Don’t mention his hatred of a ethnic minority – or their incarceration and eventual killing in the millions, along with others, and the complete collapse of his country which required out tax dollars to rescue to prevent it’s complete loss to our socialist enemies that followed.

    Don’t put his face in textbooks, or picture him, or mention his name as an epithet against those who hold opinions opposite their own.

    Oh no, we don’t want to hold them up a bad example or study their life, understand their motivations, and then be able to profile them.

    If we hadn’t forgotten that rule, we wouldn’t have done it with Osama Bin Laden or wasted so much money and time on finding out who else agreed with his policies.

    We’d just be dodging even more bullets from the enemies of good who prey on us daily, not knowing who or why.

    Anybody who wants that needs to reconsider.

  38. avatar tirod says:

    At this rate we shouldn’t have published Hitler’s face or put him in history books. Same with Bin Laden.

    Get over it – no matter the amount of publicity, or lack of it, people find out and they will either repudiate their decision making or celebrate it. There are always those who propose the most evil among us are simply enlightened.

    Not publishing details about them is tantamount to saying those who see them can’t discern right from wrong. YOU have no RIGHT to prevent others from studying them. And in an even larger view, anyone who says we can’t is deciding for us all what we can and can’t know.

    If I wanted that kind of atmosphere I would be editing a liberal campus newspaper, not reading this Blog enjoying my retirement check from the US Army Reserve. I very well know who are enemies are – it’s people who try to hush things up. They aren’t supporters of the 1st Amendment.

    It’s why we have the FOIA and how we find out our own government does illegal things. But,, shh, we aren’t supposed to talk about that . .. .

    1. avatar Mike in Texas says:

      Tirod, no sir, the point is not that it cannot be discerned. The point is that we know that many of these evil people are motivated by the infamy. We know, cause they tell us this themselves. Removing the infamy is not going to stop them from being evil, but it will lessen the ‘payoff’ that they seek.

      You are also quite incorrect about the 1st amendment. The people opposed to giving these spree killers recognition are not encouraging the government in limiting the right of TTAG to report it. We are encouraging a change in policy that would be made voluntarily by the editors of this site. That is NOT a 1st amendment issue in the slightest.

  39. avatar bastiches says:

    “Voldemorting Mercer is infantile. It reflects a completely understandable, but ultimately fruitless desire to turn away from the full horror unleashed by the Army reject.”

    With respect, I disagree.

    [i]Damnatio memoriae[/i] is as old a tradition as wiping your ass.

    The point of not honoring a spree killer with the repetition of his name is to deny him exactly what he was seeking; infamy.

    The goal of these psychotics should be denied by all those that wish to protect a just and sane society.

    This isn’t about a ‘positive spin’ on guns or an ‘infantile’ reaction

    Spree killing shouldn’t be allowed to be held as a glamorous thing. Denying the s-bird his name is doing exactly that.

    Robert, reflect on what their goal is. Reflect on what they want.

    And then deny it totally, without reservation. That is the mark of maturity.

  40. avatar tirod says:

    PS the website and Win 8 don’t get along – hence the back to back posting. Just saying it’s becoming intensely difficult to make this site behave without frequent reloading and issues like not knowing if comments are being posted or lost – the way my netbook and WIN8 treat it.

    1. avatar Former Water Walker says:

      Why you should switch to Windows 10-it’ll change your life!(no issues now). Seriously those who believe starting a blog is a sure way to instant riches are seriously NAIVE…my lovely bride has had a somewhat major blog about decorating/designing and repurposing for 4 years. With millions of hits and thousands of followers-and very little $. Lots of competition out there…

  41. avatar Rusty shakleford says:

    Where I’m from when something happens to a person that is underage the news media doesn’t report their name. I don’t think it’s an infringement on their first amendment right.

    Fact is the killer himself delivered a package with a letter about his motivations and thoughts. By publishing his name your doing exactly what he wanted. His goal has been achieved.

    This will happen again and the next ones face will also be blasted all over the place.

    1. avatar AJ187 says:

      Yep, and never will they adapt a uniform standard of printing the name, ages and causes of death for all the victims in the story. Those are FACTS too, Robert. You “journalists” just seem to ignore them all too.

  42. avatar Sheepdog6 says:

    I guess if I was a child who only thought of unicorns and thought that when my parents left the room I would never see them again I might think that not printing a mass killers name or showing his picture would make a singular iota of difference on the likelihood of another mass killer doing the same thing.

    Thank God I’m an adult and I know it doesn’t matter.

    1. avatar Mike in Texas says:

      Another, “I am the only one who is right and if you disagree with me, you are a child.” Comment. Egads, we are doomed as a nation.

  43. avatar DavidY says:

    “Although TTAG has evolved into a pro-gun advocacy blog, our main thrust remains journalistic.”

    Huh? Like The Trace is an anti-gun advocacy blog whose main thrust remains journalistic?

    I guess everyone does advocacy journalism these days. Or as it should be known, advocacy. Call it what it is.

  44. avatar int19h says:

    There is a difference between denying existence, and denying recognition. We can talk about all the facts of the case just fine, but neither his appearance nor his name bear any importance to understanding the causes and coming up with remedies, and that’s the only two things that you were asked to not bring up.

  45. avatar John Boch says:

    It’s your house, RF.

    We disagree and in my house, that scumbag and similar scumbags won’t be named or pictured UNLESS I can do so in a manner that ridicules him with great devastation.

    “The more people you kill, the more you’re in the limelight”… You’re contributing to this, Robert.

    John

  46. avatar Don Prather says:

    There is a qualitative difference between giving too much attention and simply reporting the news.

  47. avatar Rob.G says:

    I don’t care about his name and it won’t take me long to forget it. I only want to know his/her background and motivation. To me, that’s the only way to stay vigilant and prepared.

  48. avatar Retired LEO says:

    EVIL needs a face just because it’s small town America needs proof that these exist and are ignored daily. Don’t ignore them have a chat if they threaten don’t give advice on a better technique
    Assume they are going to kill you.

  49. avatar Shwiggie says:

    This Mercer turd will be rightfully and specifically forgotten in the popular consciousness in about in another week or two. He’ll just be some douchebag that shot up that community college. Sadly the families will never forget him, but the rest of us will have to jog our memories or look it up on Wikipedia to find out what this prig’s name was.

    While I personally think it’s low-class to give this POS any specific attention I also recognize that this too will pass. This specific blog brou-ha-ha is a tempest in a teacup in the grand scheme of things. Don’t worry, Causeheads: there’ll be something new to kvetch about in no time at all.

    None of this is to say that it wasn’t a horrible, heart-breaking event. But, seriously, with all the discussion and debate this only exacerbates, saying the name of the guy is not a real issue.

  50. avatar Bob says:

    I disagree with you on this one , Robert F. In fact I think we should go even further in the opposite direction. We should ridicule and besmirch the self-obsessed murderers who think they can gain fame from actions like his. Call them what they are – a vile scum in the gene pool.

  51. avatar Big B says:

    While it may be a slippery slope between responsible journalism and censorship, anyone who believes that the media frenzy following a mass killing doesn’t influence the next nut job is a pure shit for brains ass hat.

  52. avatar gsnyder says:

    This is our fantasy PC society. What needs to be done is make it clear you will die a grizzly death if you do stuff like: –> THIS GUY.

    Name, picture or not, it doesn’t matter to the next whack job. It’s not all about supposed fame, I mean, you get this anyway, it will be your legacy. The mistake, if you want to argue, is to discuss the how, what, when. where and how, and sometimes why. The media in this way educates future nut-jobs. They learn and now have all the information they need to do the job effectively.

    Um so, screw the bias PC MSM.

  53. avatar DetroitMan says:

    All fine points, but I have to disagree with the conclusion. We don’t need to know the man or the story behind him. We already know him. We have seen him dozens of times before. These spree killers commit their massacres for the sake of the attention they will receive. In our celebrity obsessed culture, some people are willing to degrade themselves for five minutes of fame. They make sex tapes. They make videos of their friends kicking them in the junk. They make videos of themselves doing stupid stunts, otherwise known as the MTV series “Jackass”. The only thing that makes the spree killer different is that they are willing to sink to the ultimate low in order to get their fame. It makes no difference to them that aren’t around to enjoy it. To them, going out famous is better than being a nobody in history. By publishing their names, pictures, and pathetic little manifestos, the media gives them exactly what they want. They get to be lionized for two weeks on every network, every little detail of their lives explored, talking heads musing about their secret inner torments. By giving this killer what he wanted, you are dangling that tantalizing bait in front of the next killer.

    Refusing to name these dirt bags is not a denial of evil. Rather, it is the courageous path forward. It is spitting in his face, acknowledging that an evil person did something despicable, but denying him the fame he sought. He threw his whole life away to become famous. He died a coward’s death by his own hand, gambling on the fact that his name would appear in lights after he was gone. And he won. The next killer is looking at his example and contemplating whether his life is worth the future fame. One day he will make his decision and the cycle will begin again. If the media were to let the next killer fall into the abyss of anonymity, then the one after that will have to wonder if he will get his desperately craved fame.

    As for TTAG and the pro gun movement, we don’t need to know these killers to make our points. We all know there are evil people in the world who will murder you to get what they want. Some do it for fame, some do it for their god, some do it to get $20 for their next meth hit. The fact that these monsters exist is undeniable to anyone who has not drunk deeply of the Progressive koolaid. The fact that these people are only stopped by good people using force is equally undeniable. These monsters’ personal stories are inconsequential and unnecessary to those points. We don’t bother to learn the stories of the gang bangers who murder people in Chicago or the Islamic terrorists who saw peoples’ heads off on camera. It’s a perverse paradox that we want to know the stories of the people who kill only for the fame, and it needs to end. I encourage TTAG to take the high road and lead the way.

    1. avatar MarkPA says:

      Well argued.

    2. avatar SF in VA says:

      +1.

      Many above have agreed with RF (and I respect many of those that did), but I disagree with that position and your statement sums it up for me. Thank you.

  54. avatar Jeff in MS says:

    I strongly disagree with TTAG’s policy, and think that you aren’t truthful when you make this argument. You don’t seem to publish pictures of child abuse victims, naked bodies, NSFW graphic images of crime scenes, bomb-making instructions, or the combination to the back door of the White House, yet those are all “truths.” You are picking your truths to publish. I don’t have a problem with that, but disagree with this pick.

  55. avatar Frank Castle says:

    When it’s a white kid the media can’t wait to plaster his name and face on every website, tv channel, and paper they can. But, if it’s a black kid? Oh now they want to shut up and not mention anything about it. Double standards, and racism against white folks is still racist. End white genocide! End the demonization of white folks. We ruled the world for thousands of years for a reason! We are not the monsters.

  56. avatar TheBear says:

    I think TTAG writers have the right to post what they want. This doesn’t mean I have to agree with it.

    You guys stop posting pic/links of tits and ass everywhere because it made the site look like the stomping ground for a bunch of dudes who never get laid. As a result, the site looks a lot more professional now.

    This is the same thing. You all can keep posting click bait articles featuring the mug shots of man children all you want – but it just makes the site look more like the rest of the other sensationalist, clickbait blogs out there.

    I would suggest trying to rise above that nonsense and continue focusing on offering a different perspective on the narrative or truly focus on reporting truth.9

  57. avatar CoolBreeze says:

    The name and likeness of the mass murderer is only relevant until he/she is apprehended. No use after that. Also, he/she is not to be referred to as “shooter, gunman, or killer”. I shoot paper, I am a man who has a gun, I kill wild game and varmints. I am not a murderer. Call them what they are. Don’t promote them by reciting their name AND dont associate murders with me.

  58. avatar No_Smoking says:

    I understand that you have a “duty to report the news,” OK, all find and dandy. If you just learned of it, post it once. One time is all you need, it’s text on the internet, not a live broadcast.. if I forget his name during the course of reading your blog, I can simply glance up to where you mention it and read it again.

    Redundancy is redundancy. You mention his name roughly 6 times in a rather short blog.

    In my humble opinion, it’s pretty sickening how often his name is mentioned in the media.

  59. avatar Paelorian says:

    There’s a difference between publishing and making the information about these individuals available and making them celebrities. I’d like the media to publish a story and follow-up and put the information out for people to study, and then just refer to the villain the mass murderer of the particular event. The Columbine mass murderers have like five movies about them, countless articles, several books, multiple video games. Harping on these murderers over and over is what I find immoral and offensive, not putting the truth out there. Why does the New York Times go on and on about these individual’s lives for months, including putting the ravings of a murderous madman (scans of the Aurora mass murderer’s notebook) on it’s frontpage months after the incident? Getting the information out there so serious people can look at it is one thing, making the murderers household names with their insane grievances widely known by repeatedly publishing their story over and over is another.

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