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Erase the Influence

Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Jesus How do you feel when you hear these names? Do you see their faces In your minds? Do they fill you with inspiration, hope?

Saddam Hussein, John Wilkes Booth, Jeffrey Dahmer, Lee Harvey Oswald, Osama Bin Laden.

How about these names? How do they make you feel?

I am a strong believer in the power of names. Given the right situation, I believe they have the power to inspire, provoke or instill fear. In some horrific cases, all three. A name and face attached to a story or idea have the power to become immortal. I believe this effect can serve a purpose for good or evil.

The human mind is a mysterious place. Most of the times we act on impulses that we are not even aware of. We are influenced by a simple mention of a name or the viewing of a photo. Even though we don’t so much recall the specifics of the story attached to both, our subconscious remembers the feelings we had when we first heard of anything related to the image and name. Seeing a photo or hearing the name of MLK, may trigger a feeling of hope and peace where a photo or name of Jeffrey Dahmer, will trigger the feeling of Fear. Though we may think of it directly or not, It can be concluded that by excluding a name or image of a person could elininate any risidule power of influence they may have previously had or may have in the future.

Which brings me to my proposal.

I am a supporter of erasing the names and photos of people who commit atrocious acts of violence and crimes. This proposal calls for the cease of media attention given to those who murder, rape and terrorize. This proposal calls for

  • Media outlets to stop releasing the names and photos of the accused before they have been brought to trial unless the information is necessary to assist an ongoing investigation.

  • Based on the verdict and offenses, Media outlets are not allowed to use the names and photos of the guilty, ever again.

  • When reporting of the crime, media outlets will only be allowed to use specifics relating to the crime without the use of speculation and opinion.They will also not be allowed to air interviews with witnesses.

  • Any record of the incident outside of the legal system will be forced to omit the name and photo of the criminal.

  • In the case of mass shootings, the motives and history of the criminal will not be allowed to be released to the public.

These are some of the things I suggest we can do to stop glamorizing or publicizing acts that can be used as inspiration or influence to other, would be criminals. I do think, however the actual incidents can be used to educate the public or can be used as a deterrent. The Press should have no problem using tags such as “The Accused” or “The Perp” in order to report the incidents without giving any power of influence by publicizing the identity of the accused.

Some may think I am attempting to limit the power of the Press. I am not. I am a huge supporter of the first amendment. I just also believe the press should show a level of responsibility in reporting certain events. In the cases I’m referring to, I can’t see too many advantages in the public knowing the names and identities of the people who have committed certain crimes.

So where do I get these thoughts from?

I Don’t think I need to make an argument for the fact that the great men of our history have inspired many others and were themselves inspired by someone else. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had admitted to be influenced by Mahatma Gandhi's peaceful protests.

“Gandhi also reached out to African-Americans, spreading seeds of nonviolent protest that King would ultimately harvest. In 1929, he authored a short article in the NAACP magazine, The Crisis, and in 1935 he met with a group of African-American leaders visiting India, including Benjamin Mays, who later became president of Morehouse College in Atlanta, which King attended.

As a mentor to King, Mays encouraged him to read Gandhi’s writings, which informed King’s leadership of the bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955. King later wrote that Gandhi’s teachings were “the guiding light of our technique of nonviolent social change.”


But what about those men and women in our history who have committed some of the most heinous and evil acts? Do you think those people also inspire and provoke those of like mind?

Copycat effect

“The "copycat effect" is the tendency of sensational publicity about violent murders or suicides to result in more of the same through imitation.[1]

The term was first coined around 1916 due to the crimes that were inspired by Jack the Ripper. Due to the increase of replicated crimes, criminologists soon began to realize that media coverage played a role in inspiring other criminals to commit crimes in a similar fashion.[2]

There is also a book written by Loren Coleman called The Copycat Effect that describes the effect that the media has on crimes and suicides, which are inspired by crimes that have been widely covered across the media. Coleman's view on the media is that the constant coverage of these events, rather than the events with a positive message, gives these criminals a type of fame. The five minutes of fame, book or movie that is dedicated to these criminals provokes individuals with a tendency to behave in a similar way. Due to this type of fame, the "copycat effect" takes place”

There have been many cases where people with similar mental troubles found influence or inspiration by the “fame” a criminal has gotten through media coverage and/or word of mouth. Due to the overwhelming publicizing of murder suicides , since 2011 there has been an increase in mass shootings. Such events may or may not have been inspired by the actions of people like Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the Columbine school shooters , James Eagan Holmes, The Dark Knight movie shootings and Jared Lee Loughner, The Arizona Shooter but the fact that those names and photos can be easily found with a click of a mouse, can strongly support the idea that the “fame” these monsters have received can act as inspiration to people who seek the same kind of impingement.



One can only assume that these

people suffer from depression and anger, amongst other mental problems and are looking for some kind of attention. They want someone to notice them and listen to them. They want their voices and opinions heard and don’t know how to achieve their goals.They turn on their televisions or open a book and see these villainous characters. They become a sort of anti-hero to them. They stand at awe at the attention these people have gotten. The criminals have become a household name. Their Stories have been repeated over and over in the media. Their motives, their lives have been thoroughly documented. They have become famous. (Enter light bulb). Negative attention is still attention and so long as we keep publicizing these acts and glorifying these monsters , they will continue to inspire more of the same.

I am not naive enough to think that by regulating these names and identities that they will stop these crimes from happening but Hell, it can’t really hurt to try this simple idea. I have seen actual interviews with convicted murderers and rapists and I can’t think of a single purpose for them to have been aired to the public. It is not so much of a farfetched idea to think these kinds of exposure may influence other mentally ill people.

Lastly I do want to address that on a larger scale, Movies and television shows have probably influenced more crimes than real life events have. I won’t debate this. It’s true but again, It is my belief that most people can separate fact from fiction and those who can not will commit these crimes no matter what they use as inspiration. It is those who can separate the two that will more than likely find influence from the real life events, having proof their chances of success is probable in an unscripted world.

The question really becomes How much coverage is too much coverage? Is the extent in coverage of certain crimes or events too excessive, neccessary or even dangerous?

In Conclusion, If there is chance to influence change in the world, especially when we are dealing in events that can lead to the possible saving of lives, don’t we owe it to humanity to at least try?

Don't be afraid. That ringing you hear in your ears is just a bit of