“People need to remember that real people died here”

May 28, 2014 • 9:31 am

From #Truthful Tuesday:


Now we can sit back and wait for the gun apologists to come over here crying, “That’s an unfair comparison.” They’re like theologians in their ability to explain away any malfeasance caused by their favorite toys.

Richard Martinez, whose son died in the Santa Barbara massacre, gives an emotional interview to CNN. This breaks my heart.


80 thoughts on ““People need to remember that real people died here”

  1. Excellent point in the picture. It is silly how one is an extreme over reaction and the other an extreme under reaction.

  2. It’s time that the media stop constantly publishing pictures and information about these murderers.

    The media give them the notoriety they crave and they may be causing more of these spree killings, just as publishing information about suicides increases the number of people who take their own life.

    These spree killers don’t deserve the air time they get. The victims deserve the air time, and sadly, they rarely ever get it outside of local area news.

    1. Huh? I have yet to see a pic of the attacker. I know about the event and who he was, but the articles I’ve read have focused on the victims or been informational. I’ve not seen an article lending any positive coverage to Rodgers.

      I’m not saying such stories don’t exist, of course they do. Lurid sensationalism has pretty much always been with us (coverage of Jack the Ripper in the 1880s was pretty sensationalist too) . But I just don’t see any overal, mainstream modern media bias towards the killer that you do.

      1. It’s not that there’s positive coverage of the killer, it’s that there is coverage of him at all. Those similarly psychopathically-inclined see mere mention of the killer by name and pic as a glorification, or at least a way of immortalizing their name.

        1. I don’t see how you can cover news events without some of that. Do you truly see little to no distinction between ‘glorification of’ and ‘information about’ ???

        2. “It’s not that there’s positive coverage of the killer, it’s that there is coverage of him at all. ”
          Exactly. We are all victims in this; it could happen to any one of us at any time, anywhere — even the gun-totin’ members of our society –and it’s because we have so many freakin’ guns available in the U.S. Period.
          Mr. Martinez’ interview should be required viewing for every single person in America, especially our legislators and NRA officials. Hold them down in their chairs for three minutes and turn the volume up.

        3. Exactly.

          And as you say, it’s not about aggrandizing him, it’s about giving him any attention at all, beyond the bare minimum to get the information across.

          Even that might be too much.

          The US national news channel my wife watches (I despise most TV news) was flashing the murders pic every 5 minutes, far more often then the all the dead and wounded victims put together.

          Eric, there is a reason why news media no longer report on suicides. It was found that reporting suicides made some people believe suicide was more acceptable. The number of suicides go up when suicides are reported.

          Many if not most of these spree killers want to be famous. The news media plays into their hands. Not all of them, but many, if not most. A few have decided not to show pictures nor give these murderers the credit they desire and the fame that drives at least part of their motive. Not nearly enough have shown this level of responsibility.

          Ezra Klein said of the killer (and those like him) in his excellent article on this subject:
          “Unable to be the hero of his own story he decided to become the villain of everyone else’s”

          at http://www.vox.com

          I find it ironic and sad VOX put the killers name in the http address, doing exactly what Klein’s article rails against, so I didn’t include the entire address.

          There is something driving these spree shootings. I believe a large part is the increased notoriety news media organizations give the killers.

          Finally, I would point out that these are in fact suicides. They take others with them first and often force the police to kill them. Many of these spree killers go in knowing they are going to die. They often leave manifestos, notes and videos.

          News media have stopped reporting on suicides. They should look at these suicides the same way and stop giving them the fame they craved.

          I apologize for the length of this comment.

          1. Except that the rate of murder is not going up, it’s going down. It has been going down for decades and centuries. Pinker has shown this extensively in his latest book. The correlation is the exact reverse of what your hypothesis would suggest.

            Now I am not trying to argue that the causation works the other way (i.e., I’m not arguing that closer coverage reduces the murder rate). I don’t think there’s generally any causation here at all.

            I’m also perfectly willing to buy that there may be specific, unusual exceptions, where coverage is a causal factor. Teen suicide may be one such. But as a general rule? No, I think the empirical evidence is pretty much overwhelmingly against the idea that modern media coverage of crime x increases the rate of crime x.

          2. Though I mostly agree with you, I do give credence to the argument that this person’s response (the killer) could be culturally influenced, i.e. that it’s become a culturally accepted way to react in the US (accepted by the deranged individuals):


            From the article:
            “You might do something different if you were in the same mental state as [Rodger] if you lived in Pakistan or if you lived in Nairobi or if you lived in Sweden. There’s always that element of cultural script or scenario that’s important and why one crazy 22-year-old does this and why another does something else.”

          3. I didn’t say coverage of crime X = more crime X. I talked about suicides. The research is clear, coverage of suicides increases suicides, soon after the suicide. Spree killings and morbid coverage go back to newspaper only days.
            Most spree killings are suicides.

            You can’t just look at the homicide rate, you have to look at spree killings, and in particular, a specific kind of spree killings, ruling out bank robberies, gang killings and murders turned into spree killings. Definitions are important. I’m talking about people who go out looking to kill themselves after killing as many people as they can. Statistics often include the former.

            Even so, lurid excessive coverage of spree killers has been de rigueur before TV existed.

            I see this as two issues, the possible link of news coverage to those who commit spree killings, and is it moral or ethical to give these same killers the fame they often wanted to get from killing people.

            This is my last comment on this article.

          4. I feel like a bit of a chump for responding after you said you wouldn’t say any more, but I have to say I just don’t see the mainsteram coverage of this event as “lurid” or “excessive.” Just googling the event and reading the first few articles, none of them are lurid. None of them subtly glorify the killer. As for excessive…if you got to CNN today, you’ll find that the coverage of the killing has practically disappeard from the front page. You know what’s on it instead? Coverage of the downed flight 370. THAT is an example of excessive coverage, and by being an example of excessive coverage, I think it shows quite clearly why the coverge of the killing was not excessive. Put simply: we know what excessive coverage looks like, and this ain’t it.

  3. They’re like theologians in their ability to explain away any malfeasance caused by their favorite toys.

    Unsurprising, really, since both groups are largely motivated by anxiety and fear. Theists are terrified to live in a world where god isn’t in control, and gun nuts are terrified to live in a world where they aren’t.

  4. John Oliver’s comment stands the best chance of gaining traction of anything I’ve heard in a long time. If we find the NRA trying to change the TSA on shoes, we’ll know it has really struck a nerve.

    1. I don’t know about that. Most people probably would probably say that taking off your shoes at the airport is idiotic and accomplishes nothing.

    1. Guns make killing easier. If they didn’t make killing easier and it was all about the people, we wouldn’t equip our soldiers with guns.

          1. Don’t apologize too much for your misunderstanding. I for one am quite weary of sarcasm or satire or in website comments, because they don’t really seem to accomplish much.

          2. So you don’t like people satirizing “gun nuts?” What are website comments supposed to accomplish?

          3. I was not exactly complaining, just stating to eric that maybe an apology for not getting someone’s sarcasm (in the written word where sarcasm doesn’t always come clear) isn’t necessary. But I guess everyone here should be able to take care of themselves.

            There is a certain respect that this story and the issue of gun control and mass murders deserves, so I am going to leave it here. Suffice it to say I wept with this father, and I support gun control, and I’m an atheist, but if that’s not enough, sobeit. I guess I’d rather see someone spend time writing to congress rather than making snide comments here. So I’ll go write to my representatives and be done here.

    2. Didn’t Hilary almost get nailed by a flying shoe, and wasn’t Dubya, too? Not to forget Khrushchev hammering with his.

      Not to make light of this present conversation; I find these occasions almost unbearably sad, for the families of the victims AND for the families of the perpetrators. Not to mention tearing out my hair at the assholiness of the gun advocates. What possibly cause could this latest shooter have had for buying an assault weapon?????

  5. I expect there will soon be politicians wanting John Oliver kicked out of the US as with Piers Morgan when challenged the US gun obsession. However we would be happy to take Oliver back.

    1. So that’s what happened to John Oliver. He did some good stuff with Andy Zaltzman in the mid 00s, appeared several times in the first series of Mock the Week and then disappeared.

      We don’t want Piers Morgan back, though, could he be left somewhere in the Atlantic?

      1. Oliver was on The Daily Show for a few years. He even hosted it for several months while Stewart went on vacation (or was directing his movie, I’m not sure which, just that he was gone).

      2. Sorry, but there are rules about dumping polluting trash at sea.
        Besides, I might have to swim in the sea afterwards, and I don’t want that much contact with the … organism.

      3. He hosts a Sunday night ‘news’ show on HBO called Last Week Tonight. He does the same stuff he did while hosting The Daily Show, which is to say he is very funny and insightful. Here is a clip that I stumbled across. It is in part NSFW.

        1. It’s called ‘The Bugle’, but yeah, it’s been going for about six years and it’s consistently hilarious. And free!

        2. It’s called The Bugle, but yeah, it’s been going for about six years and is consistently hilarious. And free!

  6. I wonder why all these gun fetishists who promote a romantic notion of the old West, never seem to mention that lawmen like Wyatt Earp always had civic ordinances prohibiting carrying of firearms in towns?

    More than a century ago they understood that alcohol, testosterone, bluster and guns didn’t mix. Seems we’ve regressed.

    FYI – here’s a T-shirt idea that anyone is free to use if they wish.


    1. Ah, but Wyatt Earp is dead, and so the guvmint is not capable of protecting us anymore. It’s every man (and I do mean ‘man’) for himself.

  7. Nothing is going to change. If shooting up an elementary school can’t shock us into revising our gun laws, nothing is going to. NOTHING. Were any of us surprised at last week’s shooting? No. Should we have been? Yes. What’s next? A gunman targets several daycares in a shooting spree? It’s going to happen. And nothing will have changed. Nothing will change afterwards. We let those Sandy Hook parents down. We failed ALL the children killed by guns every year. Year after year. For what? Over some misguided dickface bullies holding to an ideology that is neither compatible nor progressive with modern life. Also, I don’t want to hear one more thing about these fucking shooters. The dad is absolutely spot on here. Where are the stories of the victims? Who were THEY? That we are glued to the TV’s for any scrap of information regarding Adam Lanza or Eliot Rodger tells us something is very wrong. With us. How many Sandy Hook victims can we recall by name? Two or three? Yet, we know everything there is to know about Adam Lanza. I can’t even be outraged any more. I just feel….broken. And I watch this Dad, with his pain and his passion and a very, very tiny voice whispers “Maybe he can make a difference…just maybe…” But then I think of those little Sandy Hook faces and my heart breaks even more for him. Not only over his son, but that his pain, anger, and intelligence will open no doors in this discussion. I don’t know what we can do. Until the NRA becomes broke, we don’t stand a chance. I don’t see how we can stand a chance.

    1. This post really echoes my sentiments – as a Brit looking on at the almost mind-numbing number of reports that regularly trot out from the USA of some or other gun-toting lunatic shooting up a school, cinema or shopping-mall I simply can’t fathom what it WOULD actually take for something to change the attitude toward gun ownership over there.


      1. I can’t imagine what you guys must think of us….tragedy after tragedy and we won’t to stand up to the NRA bullies and their political puppets who REFUSE to perform their elected positions. After Sandy Hook, the writing on the wall was clear. Twenty shredded children who still believed in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy almost made the NRA sweat a little. Almost. We cried. We squawked. We went to a few meetings. We lost. We lost more than could ever be put into words – past present and future. Now they sit, smug and righteous, on their throne of guns, ammo, bibles, and the blood of their fellow citizens. (Oh if only I could express myself through art..I can so visualize La Pierre on a Game of Thrones-esque monstrosity). I wish I had the emotional energy left to muster up some hope – I don’t like to be a naysayer. But I just went back and looked at those babies and teachers – to look at those faces and know that we couldn’t tell them that we did something meaningful with their tragedy – that we made the world a better, safer, and saner place. Perhaps I won’t always be in this dark place where gun regulation is concerned. We do need people who won’t give up hope – that’s the only way change can happen. But for now there is bitterness and weariness in my heart.

      1. 🙁 Yeah, it’s dark. I just have to push it all away right now and focus on my little tribe..my husband and child – it sounds selfish, I know…but it’s all I can give at this moment. I can’t fix the world. Not all at once anyway. I hold my family close and am grateful for every moment we have together.

    2. I can relate to your sense of hopelessness. But there may be a couple of things we can do. Taking the lead of how big tobacco was finally defeated, we first need to attack the sources not the users. One possible approach, I’ve mentioned before – attacking product liability exclusions on firearms. These devices are inherently unsafe after all. When they produce weapons and ammo that clearly has no other purpose than killing people, we need to be after them.

      2 – Go after anyone that takes NRA dollars. If this needs to become one of those single issue voting guides, so be it.

      3- Hammer away at SCOTUS until we start to get some reasonable interpretations of the intent of Second Amendment. Does anyone but a nut job believe that the founders really intended for everyone to have more personal firepower than a WWII squad?

      One approach is that we all don’t share equal protections – SC judges rule behind metal detectors and the Secret Service while the rest of us are supposed to tolerate open carry exposures.

      More Americans are sick of this than not.

      1. Thank you for this. Some very good points. Little by little we may chip away at this. But I fear the next tragedy, and the tragedy after that, and the tragedy after that are going to get uglier and more brutal to the point of one not even clicking on a school shooting headline unless it informs us that more than 30 children and teachers were mowed down. We will be grateful if it’s only “10 or 12” dead. I mean, how soon after the MA naval yard shooting did we stop seeing new articles?
        Also a good point on “equal protections”. I haven’t heard it put quite that way before. That makes me even madder when you look at it from that angle. I have to hope that some monster doesn’t open fire while my kid and his team are at his first soccer game. Or while swimming at a community pool. We shouldn’t have to live in fear at the hands of our own elected officials. Sorry if this doesn’t make a lot of sense, I am exhausted (not more than 4 hours of sleep a night for more than a month now – I keep waking up screaming but thankfully I don’t know what I was dreaming about.) and we are moving over the next few days. But I wanted to respond since you took the time to kindly offer up some reasonable and plausible solutions – thank you 🙂

    3. Don’t lose hope yet. Cultural change can happen very suddenly after ling stasis. Attitudes and laws on marriage equality is a perfect example.

    4. I’m not sure why people keep saying that our gun laws haven’t changed in the past few years.
      They have, drastically in some places, in fact.

      It’s just that it’s not all in the direction of restriction of guns. Some places it is, like Maryland, Colorado and Connecticut. And we’ll see in time if those make a difference. Some places it’s easier to carry guns, and we’ll see in time if those make a difference.


  8. I think that Oliver’s quote above appears to distill the lunacy of America’s gun madness, but in reality the gun debate is more difficult to resolve, since it’s about a lot more than guns and gun violence. Other countries have had an easier time of dealing with their gun problems because they are not best by the same social problems that America has.

    Every time this happens, we go through the same cycle of anguish, argument and mutual outrage. Adam Gopnik writes another reasonable piece about the madness of guns, and conservative talk radio babbles on about how “they’re gong to take away our gun rights”. What are those conservatives really saying?

    The reality is that the gun debate, like religion and communism, is an issue that has an ironic, double life. On the one hand it’s about guns and violence, and in the other it is about something else: white supremacy.

    It is no accident that the NRA took wing after the KKK was dismantled by Stetson Kennedy’s campaign (BONUS: I’m friends with his grandson Sean Kennedy). It is also no accident that the President of the NRA is a confederate flag waving white supremacist, who says things like ” Obama is the big girls in the room “. When conservatives rail on about “gun rights”, they are really talking about white privilege.

    Think back to when Charlton Heston held up that rifle and said – in front of a crowd of cheering white men – “from my cold, dead hands!” What exactly was he referring to with that sentence fragment? Notice that the utterance is devoid of a subject. What is going to be taken from Heston’s hands? He’s holding a rifle, so the assumption is that he’s talking about guns. But leaving out the subject makes the utterance ambiguous, deliberately, I think. Heston was really talking about something else entirely.

    1. That’s interesting. The few pro-gun Americans who I have met (invariably well educated and well travelled, working abroad) have all seemed paranoid about giving the federal government too much power rather than having a white supremacy agenda. To some, giving up (or regulating) guns seems to be the first step on a slippery slope of paranoia that leads to inevitable martial law and a 1984-style police state of total subjugation to the ruling elite. (I’ve never understood the lack of respect for individual police officers and soldiers as democracy-loving human beings that such paranoia implies but perhaps there is some cultural/historical context that I am missing as a Brit.)

      1. The power they’re afraid of the fed. gov. having is the power to end racial segregation and to promote equality among all people.

        1. That’s right. There is a not so subtle correlation between hated for the federal government and hatred for equality. States rights = divide and conquer

      2. The part you don’t appreciate, and many Americans don’t either, is that the guns/god/race complex runs deep in our history. The defeat of the Confederacy is a festering sore for many. The think, semi-consciously, that the South will rise again to throw off the oppression of the Yankee abolitionist invaders.

        Sounds insane, doesn’t it?

  9. As long as people think that owning guns is a “god given right” nothing will change. Owning slaves was also a god given right but we abolished that practice because it is inherently barabaric no matter what any fictional deity says. The same applies to guns.

  10. You know, I think Americans really just have to accept this 2nd amendment business. I just wished the most outspoken supporters of the 2nd amendment were also equally strong supporters of the OTHER amendments like the 1st and 14th. Often it seems they are not.

  11. I recall a story many years ago (maybe the 1990’s) where a boy squirted his neighbor with a large kind of squirt gun called a Super Soaker. The man took out a real gun and killed the kid! The article went on to say that the incident had provoked a national discussion on whether to ban… Super Soakers!

  12. It’s not just guns and misogyny and wars wars and more wars and death penalties and torture and prisons and animal persecution and Washington apathy and NRA idiocy and greed that make a violent society – it’s all of that and more.
    Yes, Mr Martinez’ words are a true & profound heart breaker. Oh that enough would agree….

  13. Here’s how to change the gun laws: The NRA claims to have between 4 and 5 million members. Gun control proponents should start organizing and joining the NRA en masse. They can then take over the organization’s leadership and return its political lobbying to sanity. If the gun control proponents can’t drum up > 5 million supporters, then they deserve what they get.

    1. That would only work if the rank and file members of the NRA vote for the leaders of the NRA. Otherwise, membership would only give them more money to control legislatures.

      1. In which case, the liberal NRA members start a civil disobedience program from within the organization. Imagine NRA members suing the NRA claiming that its elections are fraudulent, asking NY (?) to revoke its charter. Imagine NRA members suing the NRA leadership in all 50 states for ignoring the wishes of the rank-and-file and for misusing organization funds. Imagine hordes of NRA members showing up at NRA rallies carrying “REPEAL THE 2ND AMENDMENT” or “GUN CONTROL NOW!” signs. Imagine NRA members starting a phone campaign to Congress declaring the leadership does not represent the rank-and-file. I think such a program has more chance of success than anything the pro-gun control side has done in the last 40 years.

    2. I’d imagine ten new organizations would take its place, and being able to say “we’re under attack: look at what they did to the NRA!” would make them more money than the NRA ever made.

      Though whatever one’s political beliefs, that would be entertaining to watch.

    3. That might work. According to Wikipedia (my main source of knowledge on the NRA coming from a gun-sane country), “The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) is an American nonprofit organization founded in 1871 that promotes firearm competency, safety, and ownership, as well as police training, marksmanship, hunting and self-defense training in the United States.”

      If the emphasis could be shifted from ownership to competency and safety, tighter regulations and laws would seem like a no-brainer. Likewise, self-defense could focus on how to spot and disarm a nutter with a gun, rather than how to shoot someone.

      The problem would be getting the 5 million to support the evil NRA by giving them money before there was a clear chance for change. That would take some spectacular organisation. Perhaps they should start a competing “American Rifle Association” and build a membership of pro-gun-control gun-lovers first?

  14. Not wanting to get hissed at by Prof Ceiling Cat for dominating a thread, but I JUST saw this on my FB feed (WHY do I forget to stay away from FB after a tragedy???) Not sure if embed will work. There is so much wrong with this message that I don’t know where to start. It was shared via “Lock n Load Lindsey” or something like that. Never mind that guns are statistically more likely to kill you or a loved one than to be used successfully for self-defense. People still don’t get this basic concept. An armed woman grabbed from behind by a much larger, stronger male is not going to be any safer than an unarmed woman…in fact the armed woman is probably in more danger from the gun in that situation. I won’t even get into the fear tactics here…I’m just done…I’m sure you will all start seeing this on various social media shortly…it literally turns my stomach.

        1. That is one of the worst things that I have ever seen. I wonder how many women are on the NRA executive committee. I’m guessing it’s far from a majority. (Not to mention the rather obvious point that the fact that the assailant might easily have a gun renders any self-defence more dangerous.)

  15. Very powerful.

    I am not anti-gun, but I am very much in favor of responsible gun laws. As it is, there if virtually no regulation of guns. The NRA should be ashamed of themselves.

  16. “Look, we’ve collectively decided, as a country, that the occasional massacre is okay with us. It’s the price we’re willing to pay for our precious Second Amendment freedoms. We’re content to forfeit the lives of a few dozen school kids a year as long as we get to keep our guns. The people have spoken, in a cheering civics-class example of democracy in action.” http://theweek.com/article/index/262219/there-is-no-catastrophe-so-ghastly-that-america-will-reform-its-gun-laws

    Date: Wed, 28 May 2014 16:31:26 +0000 To: t_aid@hotmail.com

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *