Obsession with violence must be examined

Eastern Kentucky University officials made the right decision this week when they chose to cancel classes and various school activities after discovering a threat to “kill all” painted on a campus bathroom wall.

After the tragedy that unfolded last week at Umpqua Community College in Oregon — where 10 people including the gunman lost their lives — any perceived foreshadowing of a mass murder must be taken with absolute sincerity.

But we can’t be a society that lives in fear. While debates will continue to ensue over gun control, public safety and the treatment of mental illness, what about some self-reflection?

Why do we hear endless debates about gun control, but not about violence in video games, TV shows, movies and the Internet?

Why are we so intrigued by violence? Should media place so much importance on covering violent crimes? Are we signaling to potential copycats that if they choose to senselessly murder innocent people in a movie theater, church or school, that we will be right there watching and reading every detail of their lives on our televisions, in our newspapers and on the Internet?

Yes, part of being a free society is having access to information. It provides knowledge and power, and as we celebrate National Newspaper Week this week, the Glasgow Daily Times acknowledges that freedom of information is a cornerstone of a democracy.

But we also have another liberty in this country that’s just as important as accessibility of information in our freedom of choice.

No, we can’t buck our responsibility to pay taxes, or follow laws, but we can choose what issues and events garner our time and attention.

It’s absolutely a charge of media to cover mass shootings, but we don’t have to glorify the killers. Instead of pictures of the guilty being spread across social media, we can share stories about the victims and humanize the results of such unnecessary violence. We can choose to focus on murderers, or, instead, minimize our coverage of criminals who often times seem to turn to mayhem as a way to receive attention.

Glasgow Daily Times

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