Texas Department of Public Safety Regional Director Freeman Martin provides information Nov. 6, 2017, to media members about the fatal shooting the day before at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. (Nick Wagner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

Texas authorities: We won't mention shooter's name again

(AP) — The shooter's name went unspoken at a news conference on the killings at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and authorities there said they intend to keep refraining from saying it.


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"We do not want to glorify him and what he has done," Texas Department of Public Safety Regional Director Freeman Martin said at the Monday (Nov. 6) briefing.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs agreed, saying, "We don't talk about the shooter" in the hope that it "doesn't encourage other people to do horrific acts."

That choice reflects a larger movement of authorities, victims' families and academics who want to deny to mass killers the fame they often seek, and to keep from inspiring the next one.

The message: Don't hide information, but don't hype it. Report the name of a shooter when it's first released, then leave it out.

The movement was created by No Notoriety, a group at the forefront of the effort that focuses on spreading simple, meme-friendly ideas.

"Stop making rampage mass murderers famous," read a post on Facebook and Twitter, along with a blotted-out photo of the Texas shooter, who killed 26 people.

"Focus on victims and heroes — not their killers!" one popular post said.

Caren and Tom Teves, whose son, Alex, was killed while shielding his girlfriend in the 2012 shooting in Aurora, Colo., started the group. They were driven to act by feelings of disgust, but found common cause with experts.

While the immediate provocations for shooters differ — authorities in Texas said the shooting may have been prompted by a domestic violence situation — most seek the same kind of attention.

Zeynep Tufekci, a professor at the University of North Carolina who studies the social effects of technology, said evidence shows that future mass shooters were carefully watching coverage of the most recent attacks.

She has repeatedly urged — both online and in op-eds — that outlets should avoid repetition of the killer's name and face and steer clear of step-by-step discussions of their methods.

"It's past time that we considered less sensationalist ways of covering mass shootings, and reported such grim news without plastering the killer's name and face everywhere," Tufekci told The Associated Press in an email.

Tufecki said media outlets already are cautious in what they report about suicides for fear of inspiring copycats, and doing the same for mass shooters would be "just sound editorial policy, not censorship."

Comments

  1. It’s a bit much to say that No Notoriety “started the movement.” They may have popularized it but this is not new. Jewish tradition, for example, avoids saying the name of killers and other notorious persons. Often the dis-honorific “yemakh shemo” — may his name be erased — is added if the name is mentioned. The memorial in Tel Aviv for Yitzhak Rabin z”l hy”d has a re-creation of the scene of his assasination. For the killer it lists only “murderer.”

  2. I bet they are not going to mention again that it was a white guy, not named Mohammed or Pedro, and that he was a legal gun owner (even if he wasn’t supposed to be), who got an AR15 and murdered 26 people because we have no gun control in this country and some of us mistake having a big gun for being a man.

  3. The infamous live forever on the internet…even in Texas!

  4. This is ridiculous and an embarrassing exercise in futility: the killer cannot seek fame and attention because….DUH…he is dead! As for his “method,” there was nothing unusual or creative or bizarre about it. He purchased an AR15 (illegally, thanks to the Air Force) and attacked a group of defenseless people.

    As for other mass murderers waiting in the wings, let’s make sure the death penalty awaits them, if they survive their attack.

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