Not long after the initial shocked reaction in the wake of a deadly mass-shooting Friday in Connecticut, several Facebook users posted a statement from actor Morgan Freeman, pleading with the media to stop using the shooter’s name. While the sentiment is heartfelt and valid, it apparently did not come from Freeman.
This statement, usually accompanied by a photo of the actor famous for his roles in The Shawshank Redemption and The Bucket List, has been shared on Facebook numerous times:
You want to know why. This may sound cynical, but here’s why.
It’s because of the way the media reports it. Flip on the news and watch how we treat the Batman theater shooter and the Oregon mall shooter like celebrities. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris are household names, but do you know the name of a single victim of Columbine? Disturbed people who would otherwise just off themselves in their basements see the news and want to top it by doing something worse, and going out in a memorable way. Why a grade school? Why children? Because he’ll be remembered as a horrible monster, instead of a sad nobody.
CNN’s article says that if the body count “holds up,” this will rank as the second-deadliest shooting behind Virginia Tech, as if statistics somehow make one shooting worse than another. Then they post a video interview of third-graders for all the details of what they saw and heard while the shootings were happening. Fox News has plastered the killer’s face on all its reports for hours. Any articles or news stories yet that focus on the victims and ignore the killer’s identity? None that I’ve seen yet. Because they don’t sell. So congratulations, sensationalist media, you’ve just lit the fire for someone to top this and knock off a day care center or a maternity ward next.
You can help by forgetting you ever read this man’s name, and remembering the name of at least one victim. You can help by donating to mental health research instead of pointing to gun control as the problem.
Reddit users pointed to a long Facebook post by “Mark” of Vancouver that is identical to Freeman’s “statement,” according to the Inquisitor. “Mark” later commented on his own post, “If I know the Internet, someone will attribute the quote to Morgan Freeman or Betty White and it’ll go viral.”
This is just another reminder to research before you post.
Readers: Did you share this statement on Facebook?