(Note: The following was drafted Feb 25, 2016. Feb 26 press reports that a gunman in Kansas killed 3 and wounded 14, some critically. Please understand that satire isn’t laughter; it’s simply disguised anguish and despair.)
Random mass-shootings create headlines which may, themselves, prompt further random mass-shootings. The media have a responsibility to report the news, but they can’t ignore the possibility that UBER DRIVER KILLS SIX may have been inspired by OREGON COMMUNITY COLLEGE SHOOTER KILLS TEN, which may have been inspired by MOVIE THEATER RAMPAGE KILLS TWELVE, and so on, ad Columbinum.
Imagine the internal dialogue of a sensitive editor:
If I report today’s shooting straight — bodies, pictures, names, interviews — who knows what that might do to some guy who just crashed his car after his wife just left him because he just lost his job due to his drinking problem …
But I have to keep the public informed. It’s a public service, and at least I’m helping people understand what’s going on so they can deal with it, personally, communally, politically …
Still, if we all refused to report this stuff, chances are we wouldn’t have such a copycat epidemic. Am I part of the problem or …
And so on, ad Armageddon.
Fortunately for what would otherwise be an endless debate over the right of free speech and press vs. the right to life, social scientists have discovered a factor that could diminish our epidemic of gun violence, if not end it.
It’s in an article entitled A Cure for Male-Pattern Badness in The American Journal of Abnormal Cranial Activity (Internal), which observes:
Violence is a predominantly male form of self-expression. Males are easily aroused by images of violence (which are simply a slightly more aggressive pornography). They are not, however, especially imaginative. Their normal response to a stimulating event or image is to imitate. In America, gun violence is the thing to imitate.
Without some self-regulating mechanism, male response to news reports of gun violence would produce a geometric progression of mass killings that, we estimate, would wipe out the U.S. population within approximately 78 years.
Fortunately, there is such a self-regulating mechanism: boredom. Besides being violent and highly imitative, males are easily bored. The calculus of male boredom is simple. When only a few people are doing it, it is intriguing; when a lot are doing it, it is cool; when everyone is doing it, it is boring, and time to find another cool distraction.
The task is to make mass murder boring.
Limiting media coverage of gun violence would hurt, not help, the situation. Males, though not particularly astute, would sense that something was missing from the evening news, eventually realize they were being manipulated, and erupt in an orgy of even-more-enraged-than-usual violence, much as they erupt in an orgy of gun-buying whenever gun-control sentiment is stirring.
The media should actually increase coverage of gun violence, not downplay it. This would rapidly intensify the outbreak of mass killings, it is true, but would compress the time-frame from intriguing through cool to boring, and thus reduce the overall total of incidents and deaths.
In the graph on the right (done by an intern, now reassigned), the solid line represents the number of deaths over time if the media increase gun-violence coverage; the dash line represents the result if coverage remains as is; the dotted line, the results of attempting to limit coverage. We rest our case.
(Interestingly, the solid line in the graph almost exactly mirrors the rising curve of male hair acquisition from birth, followed by the gradual, but gradually steeper, slope of hair loss, ending with almost no loss since there is almost nothing to lose. But that is another topic, which we have reported in our article, A Cure for Male-Pattern Baldness, in The Journal of Abnormal Cranial Activity (External).