OxBlog

Monday, April 23, 2007

# Posted 8:40 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

OXBLOG DEFENDS THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA! On the cover of the Outlook section in yesterday's WaPo, there was an article blaming the media for the massacre at Virginia Tech. Its author writes that:
...the bloated photographs on front pages, the repeating loops of interviews on cable news, the postings of warped creative writing assignments on the Web, and perhaps above all the airing of Cho's self-pitying, quasi-messianic video clips on every network all help ensure that similar incidents will indeed recur -- and soon...

Despite all the searching-for-an-answer hand-wringing we have been subjected to this last week, the most obvious ounce of prevention would be to stop allowing the likes of Cho to play the media like a piano. As it is, we gave him everything he would have wished for. In so doing, journalists who claim only to be helping us to "understand," the better to prevent future rampages, are hypocritical. Ask any Skinnerian psychologist: Reward behavior, and it rises.
The strangest thing about these accusation is that they come from a man who published a novel that "which climaxes in a grisly school killing with a crossbow."

Then, after blaming the media for Virginia Tech, the author goes on to talk about how unfair and personally hurtful it is for his work to be labelled as an incitement to violence:
The finger of blame is already circling wildly -- at the campus's police, administrators and teachers. For the first time, it has even pointed at me. Because Cho, like my own fictional character Kevin, bought locks and chains to trap his victims in their school rooms, numerous blogs and even the London Paper have speculated that he may have been imitating "We Need to Talk About Kevin." Take it from me: Even such a glancing accusation that the death of 32 people is all your fault is not an enjoyable experience.
When you live in a glass house...

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Comments:
Rather than blaming the messenger for his moral flexibility, that he condones his own publications on violence while alleging others for the same act, I would prefere a rational refutation against Shriver's main line of argument. If the goal of killers is media attention, shouldn't mass media have a responsibility to future victims to self-restrict their coverage? We should not burry the rationality of Shiver's argument with the dirt of his moral flexibility.
 
Lionel Shriver is actually a woman.
 
This is a fascinating post! It could not have been expressed better.
 
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