Whenever a high-profile crime is committed, like the recent shooting at Seattle Pacific University, a number of respectable people will get up on their soap boxes and say that the names of the killers should not be made public. They argue that by making their names public it’s giving them the fame they do desperately craved. While they may have a valid argument I disagree with their point, I think the killers’ names should always be made public.
The first is that the only people who are giving them fame are a small minority of the populace and ones you couldn’t pay me to interact with. Not naming them would not prevent copycat crimes. Secondly, I believe we should know who our monsters are. To not name a mass murderer or spree killer would lead us to forget the atrocities they’ve committed. Lastly, if we don’t know their names they’ll be given names by the Nancy Graces of the world. That would end up giving them larger than life type names that would only add to their legend. You say David Berkowitz and most people shrug but you say ‘Son of Sam’ and people take notice.
What we should do instead of not naming them is to not show their pictures except in instances of wanted fugitives. Granted in this day of the internet you can’t un-ring the bell once that picture is made public but I think that would go a longer way to dissuading any delusions of fame rather than not naming them. Let us not forget about all the girls who became ‘fans’ of James Holmes after his mugshot was released.
To me, not naming the killers is too Orwellian and reeks of revisionist history and censorship, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things we can do to discourage these claims to so-called fame in the future.