Poster Boy

At some point we have to looimagesk in the mirror and see how we are “contributing” to a world we’re too often embarrassed to live in. Today is such a day for me.

We are making heroes of the very least among us, and it must stop. I am. You are. We are.

What terrorists and mass-murderers do is widely misunderstood in my view. The ‘sane’ ones, that is to say those who are not intellectually impaired but spiritually and socially fractured, use murder and mayhem as means not ends. It’s simply the surest way to be heard. And seen. They have some agenda, and since Oprah won’t invite them to her couch, Stern won’t grant them airwaves, Anderson Cooper won’t return their call, and so on, they choose the one thing American media can’t resist— the Big Bad. Then every spotlight, every microphone, every camera, every blog, every everything is obsessively focused on them.

It’s entirely wrong to condemn the media for this. It feeds us what we beg for. We devour it. We spread it. We want it. As a boy I read In Cold Blood and Helter Skelter to find out what makes a person do the unthinkable. Some people, however, take an almost prurient interest in blackest souls. Virtually all of us are on this continuum, somewhere between morbidly curious, obsessed and fawning apologists.

One such person, evidently at the very extreme end of the spectrum, is Kayvon Edson. Unlike the ’sane’ murderers I mentioned earlier, it seems Kayvon is the other kind. The clearly deranged threat.

How can I know this not twelve hours after the world knew of Kayvon? Well, I read how he was walking around the Boston Marathon memorial in a black veil. I read that in the newspaper. It was a lead story. Kayvon was trending on Twitter too!
Then, without even having to be asked to, I went to Facebook to see if Kayvon might have some words of wisdom to share there. He did.

Kayvon’s cover photo is not of his shining face; it’s of his probable idol— Tsarnaev The Younger! Clever, eh? But wait— there’s more! The picture had a caption. It reads: Had A Blast At the Marathon!!!

That’s right. Three exclamation points. Subtle.

If you’re yelling at your computer right now,”He probably didn’t even do that! Someone put the image up after the news of what he’d done”, you’re right. And you’re entirely missing the point. And you’re making mine.

That I would voluntarily investigate this person is gravely disappointing to the point of shame. That someone else would make light of both Kayvon and Tsarnaev’s crimes (against humanity)and draft off of it is vulgar on its face. And spreading.

Heroin addiction is running wild again in the streets of cities and towns. It’s scary and a blight.

I would argue that our addiction to Big Bads is more pervasive, more destructive, and more treatable. Thank God for small favors.

When drunks or loons run onto the field during a game, broadcasters turn the camera away or go to commercial so as not to encourage more attention seekers. Let’s do that for Big Bads.

Of course we have to report what happened. The public has a right to know and the press has an obligation to cover it. But let’s not mention names of perpetrators. Let’s deny them their fifteen minutes— to say nothing of their book deals, jailhouse marriage proposals, or Facebook ‘likes.’ They want an audience. Forget ‘let’s not give it to them’; let’s not be it. Let’s not spend precious hours or even days trying to unravel the yarn. It’s not that interesting.

If we had done that with (redacted), (redacted) might not have felt the urge to jog in his murderous footsteps in a thinly veiled homage. And if (redacted) didn’t do that, we wouldn’t be googling (“redacted”) to see what he looks like, what his favorite bands are, or what President he’d be according to his Facebook quiz.

I think you get my point.

I feel like there should be some cleansing platitude inserted here. “Be kind to strangers.” “Care for the mentally ill.” “Live every day to the fullest.”

I’ll settle for, “Don’t make fame of infamy.” Hey, it’s a start.

I don’t want media companies to be better than me. I want them to help me be better. I need all the help I can get. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe not.

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