Out and about today, I followed the WBDJ shooting story on MSNBC’s satellite radio channel. The anchor announced that Twitter and Facebook had deleted the accounts showing the killer’s instantly infamous GoPro video of the murder. The news org’s anchor said the network wasn’t going to run it, or the live footage taken by the now-dead cameraman. Thomas Roberts did, however, describe the shooter’s video, moment-by-moment. What was the point of that? Now I realize . . .
that there are excellent arguments for not showing the video. Running it gives satisfaction to its heinous creator, who deserves none. It could inspire copycat killers. It’s an affront to the sole survivor of the attack, and the victims’ colleagues, friends and family. These are all compelling reasons. But they must be balanced against other important factors.
For one thing, if we are to confront violence, we must confront violence. The best way to acknowledge its existence – and decide how to deal with it both as individuals and as a society – we must see it. It’s one thing to talk about defensive gun uses, or the lack of defensive gun uses, or the need to be ready to perform a defensive gun use, or laws limiting that ability. It’s another to witness a violent assault as it happens.
Some of us have seen violent assaults, and suicides, firsthand. It’s not something I’d wish upon anyone. But I do believe that everyone should watch acts of criminal violence – such as this act of violence – on video. [Click here to watch.] I understand and appreciate the squeamishness felt by many if not most. Ditto the sense of revulsion. Peace-loving people shy away from gore. But turning away from it is an act of denial. It’s a way of falling yourself that it’s not real. And it most surely is.
This conviction also applies to the horror inflicted on innocents in the Middle East. ISIS’ brutality is disgusting and degrading, inhuman and inflammatory. But there it is. Or there it was, on TTAG’s Facebook page: an ISIS sniper taking a head shot, posted for our readers’ education. And there it went. Facebook pulled the post, took our page offline and asked if we wanted to scan our page for inappropriate content before restoring service.
The First Amendment only protects us against government interference with free speech. MSNBC, Facebook are free to censor their content as they see fit. (Just as the President of the United States is free not to watch the ISIS videos, as his press secretary revealed.) We don’t think it unreasonable or unacceptable to show violent videos on TTAG, provided we do so for [what we consider to be] the right reasons. We’ve done so many, many times in our posts on personal defense. And for various news items, such as today’s attack in Roanoke, which shows the importance of situational awareness (if nothing else).
As always, TTAG listens to its readers. Your thoughts on our policy of running this and other firearms-related violent videos would be most appreciated.
UPDATE: ABC News is reporting that the killer faxed them a lengthy manifesto after the shooting. They have released sections of it. They should release the entire document.