​What Drives a Spree Killer? Don't Ask Circa

Circa, a news app, has opinions about how news should be covered, and contributing editor Evan Buxbaum has taken to Medium to explain them. It's quite an explanation:

When a mass shooting happens, the trend among media outlets has been to cover the event and then shift focus to the sensationalized aspects of the perpetrator. The victims, mourning and any heroes that emerge often become a sidebar as attention turns to the deranged worldview of an unstable person.

The raw tragedy of mass shootings warrant our attention. The perpetrators do not.

The attention that mass shooters win through their shootings is a real problem. Adam Lanza's scoreboard made it clear, if it wasn't already. There's a contagious element to people deciding to act this way, and the idea of the attention they'll get clearly is part of their motivations.

But it's only part of the motivation. So Circa's analysis of the problem quickly melts into sanctimonious nonsense:

Unfortunately two instances this month have necessitated Circa to work on this strategy, with shootings taking place in Nevada and Oregon. Circa decided not to name the deceased killers or lend credence to their homicidal actions by reporting on lurid elements that materialized. We don't think anything valuable was lost by this approach. Our updates focused on the victims and survivors, on steps taken that may have saved lives, and how communities gathered to mourn those lost.

In Oregon, OK, sure. Some kid shot another kid to death and wounded a teacher at school. Deprive an angry teen of attention, why not? We're not going to remember the difference between this one and the next one anyway.

But Nevada? In Nevada, the "lurid elements" were that the perpetrators assassinated two police officers, then reportedly shouted about "revolution" and covered the bodies with a Gadsden flag and a "swastika-stamped manifesto." There was explicit political content to the murders. One of the killers, Jerad Miller, had participated in the Bundy Ranch standoff—a fact that became known because the public learned his identity and the outlines of his motivations.

Here's the Circa coverage that Buxbaum proudly linked to:

A man and woman fatally shot two police officers who were eating lunch before walking to a nearby Walmart and killing another person. After a shootout with police who responded to the scene, the woman killed her partner and herself in an apparent suicide pact, police said. Their motive wasn't clear.

This is self-parody. Someone did something. Something bad. A terrorist act is reduced to something to be sad about—a generic source of pain to its victims, like an earthquake or tornado. In place of ideology, Buxbaum reduces the impulse behind mass murder to "the rantings of a crazed person" ... "an unhinged person" ... "disturbed individuals" ... "the mind and crimes of a maniac."

Sensitive news sounds an awful lot like apathetic news. Or outright ignorance. Circa wants you to know it cares so much about the victims, it's not interested in why they died.

[Image by Jim Cooke, photo via YouTube]