After the mass killing in Hanau, near Frankfurt this week, I found the way the RTL TV news handled it was very interesting.
A right wing, mentally disturbed person killed 9 people in a Shisha Bar and another café. They were all immigrants. He then went on to kill his mother and himself, his father survived.
The news report concentrated wholly on the victims, the killer wasn’t named, his agenda and video describing why he carried out the attack weren’t shown. Instead, the news concentrated wholly on the victims and their families, showing that they were normal people, generally useful and respected members of the community and interviews with family members.
It was all about the victims, the assailant was pushed totally out of the picture. Then the next day, in the follow up reports, he was again sidelined, he wasn’t really mentioned, his politics etc. only briefly mentioned - that he was right wing, a gun fanatic and mentally unstable - no word on why he carried out the attack, again his blog and the statement video weren’t shown, instead they concentrated on the politics(1) and the question of why he was allowed to have access to guns in the first place, if he was mentally unstable - they are talking about guns owners having to have regular mental health checkups signed off by a doctor, in order to continue to have access to a gun(2).
I find it very interesting that his agenda and himself were totally pushed aside, he doesn’t get his 5 minutes of fame, at least not on primetime news. Will this sort of reporting help to push these sorts of attacks into the background, if the assailant(s) don’t get their 5 minutes of fame? If they themselves are ignored and all the attention goes to the victim profiles? (“This unnamed sad-sack killed these named respectable members of society.”)
What are your thoughts?
(1) I’m guessing the politicians will still use this as a springboard to try and bring in more surveillance - CCTV cameras in public areas, monitoring communication etc. I feel sorry for the families here, but we shouldn’t give in to the panic and give up our rights to freedom. We should find other ways to fight this.
(2) Having access to a gun is a privilege, not a right and guns are dangerous. So I find it a good idea to have to have regular mental health checkups to have continued access to guns. If you lose your driving license for excess alcohol or certain forms of aggressive driving, you need to go through a psychological test to get your license back. Guns are more dangerous and the mental stability of the gun owner should be more carefully controlled.