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Aurora Shooting Raises Questions, Should Suspected Killer James Holmes Be Blackballed By Media?

james holmes joker media ban

The James Holmes/Joker connection after the Aurora shooting has fascinated a horrified public after a spree killing — for which Holmes is assumed to be responsible — killed 12 theater-goers at a midnight screening late last week.

James Holmes has been suspiciously quiet since the murders, appearing subdued or even drugged at his first court hearing on Monday in relation to the shocking spree murder.

No one knows why James Holmes affected a Joker-like appearance and shot up a group of innocent individuals out to see a new summer movie, but speculation has been rife — that he was unemployed, that he had been rejected by women, that he was a member of the Tea Party or Occupy movements and his lashing out was a natural progression.

What many believe, however, is that Holmes was motivated in part by a desire for notoriety — and after all, had he just been bloodthirsty, he could have committed far more murders in a less theatrical way and evaded capture far longer.

Which has prompted an interesting question in the media — should suspected killers such as James Holmes be thwarted in receiving attention in the media in the days following a massacre?

In the US, arrests are a matter of public record, and the job of the media is to report upon an incident factually with information available at press time. But in a world eerily foreshadowed by the film Natural Born Killers nearly 20 years ago, crime and notoriety are a sickening form of fame in our social media-driven world — akin to the similar issue of criminals profitting financially off their crimes via book and movie deals.

Leading the charge to funnel ill-gotten fame away from suspected killer Holmes in the media is the brother of one of the first victims to be identified in the media, aspiring sports writer Jessica Redfield’s sibling Jordan Ghawi. Ghawi even implored President Obama to cease using Holmes’ name, a plea he says the President was amenable to when meeting with victims’ families in Colorado:

Ghawi is not alone in his belief that Holmes should remain nameless in the media and rot alone in solitary confinement — Fark’s Drew Curtis proposed that instead of fearful regard, Holmes be mocked with a humorous moniker referring to a failed bad guy:

Of course, the flip side of such a suggestion is purity of reporting. While Holmes may indeed have sought infamy in carrying out the killings, it is a matter of fact and record that he is the prime suspect, and a matter of public interest to determine the facts of such a horrific crime in hopes ordinary citizens can be best informed about such events.

Do you think that the media should largely ignore the perpetrators of high-profile crimes that appear fame seeking, or does the public have a right to know what happened, for better or worse?

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3 Responses to “Aurora Shooting Raises Questions, Should Suspected Killer James Holmes Be Blackballed By Media?”

  1. Anonymous

    "Do you think that the media should largely ignore the perpetrators of high-profile crimes that appear fame seeking, or does the public have a right to know what happened, for better or worse?"?

    This is a false dichotomy. All the facts can be given without encouraging murder. An article can anonymize -or at least minimize the free publicity factor- by reporting all the same facts, merely substituting "Aurora shooter" or "prisoner # 465743" instead of the given name. Any morbidly curious public is free to look the name up for themselves. That way, identity is not concealed, but murderer is also not given free -and very valuable- publicity.

  2. Anonymous

    "should suspected killers.. be thwarted in receiving attention in the media?"

    How is this even a question? a better question is, "Is irresponsible media who encourage murder partially responsible for that murder?" (This is, in fact, the question posed in the movie mentioned in the article, "Natural Born Killers".)

  3. Anonymous

    Jordan Ghawi doesn't want us mentioning the name of his sisters killer, but he has no problem using the name Anders Breivik in his tweet. Before reading that I had no idea who Anders Breivik was.