I can’t tell you how much Larry and I want to avoid covering the St. Charles father who killed his two daughters, wounded his wife, and then turned the gun on himself. But it clearly can’t be done.
Though I want to make it perfectly clear that I’m covering the coverage and not the event itself. To wit, my favorite reporter, the Daily Herald’s Sue Sarkauskus, asked me to explain why this tragedy isn’t news. Here’s my response:
1. This event is so far out on the bell curve that the massive amount of press it’s receiving makes it seem far more commonplace. The real news is that 3 million Chicago area fathers and 3 million Chicago area mothers did not murder their children and commit suicide last week
2. No! It doesn’t raise awareness for domestic abuse either. The police were called for a verbal altercation between this father and his former wife a month ago which hardly amounts to this kind of violent end.
3. Unless there are unlikely revelations, this tragedy could neither have been predicted nor prevented. People prone to murderous rampages rarely share their inner turmoil. So what purpose does it serve to interview the family or have a neighbor inevitably say, “He was a really nice guy – he must’ve just snapped.”
4. This over-the-top news coverage only encourages the next self-absorbed sociopath to go out in a similar blaze of glory. “I’ll finally get my name in the paper! There will be justice.” Please note that sports broadcasts no longer show idiots who run out onto the field and these self-promoting stunts have dropped dramatically.
Could this tragedy be the result of a mental illness? Of course it could. But when you consider the shooter’s clear intent to hurt his ex-wife as much as possible, I don’t think that’s the case.
I can’t remember whether it was Soren Kierkegaard in ‘Fear and Trembling’ or William Styron in ‘Sophie’s Choice.” But one of them defined evil, not as what we normally think it is, but as the reader erasing the words from the page in an effort to dismiss the author.
And that’s all this is – one man’s attempt to erase God and this existence through an ultimately heinous and cowardly act. It does not deserve to be covered.