The F5 Nobody: A terrible idea to stop spree killers

Brad Willis · Published · Updated


Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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11 Responses

  1. Gordon Dill says:

    Couple of things to ponder :

    1) We in the media don’t report on suicides. That’s been a pretty standard journalistic ethic for quite some time and as a former journalist I’m sure you know all the reasons why. Do you think that’s a good idea? I see some similarities in the way suicides are reported and the way some propose covering these homicidal nuts.

    2) The media withholding names is different from them not being publicly available. If you’re making the case that the name and all relevant criminal information in these cases is public record and that public right to inspect this information should never be infringed, I’m in complete agreement. I’m a big fan of public information staying that way. That said, what I think you’re arguing is that journalists have a responsibility to report these identities and I think that’s a very different matter.

    3) Finally, I tend to agree with you that it’s well past time to have some serious conversations about this issue. Conversations more complicated than the gun debate itself. For example, why are ALL school shooters male? Mental health isn’t a specifically male condition. It’s isn’t a white people condition either. Yet the overwhelming majority of school shooters are white (the most notable exception being the VA Tech shooter…which I covered). Finally, nearly all school shooters come from solidly middle class…or upper class families. WHY? Why are all the shooters so similar in profile? I think if you tackle those questions we may make a step toward saving a few lives.

  2. Brad Willis says:

    1) I was always under the impression not reporting suicide was because it was an exclusively personal matter that didn’t affect the public (and suicides are reported if they become a public issue).

    2) I don’t the journalists should be “required” to report anything, but I’d argue responsible reporting on the identity of a murderer serves a public good in that it educates people as to who is actually doing the killing.

    3) To your point–building good profiles depends on information.

  3. Drizztdj says:

    I’ll throw a theory why killers are mostly white, male, middle class. Entitlement. Or at least the yearning for it. More than other classes social, racial, economical, they believe they should be entitled to such things. And for those who cannot get them whatever the trigger may be (lack of sex, money, prestige at work, bullied by someone) that rage finally boils over into giving up on the pursuit of normal human goals and replacing it with a destructive one. It’s happening more often due to social media giving a voice to these people since they’re not getting the personal attention they deserve.

  4. Andrew Moxon says:

    Very interesting take, and a perspective I hadn’t considered.

    I do want to stop giving these sad fucks the notoriety they so clearly seek, but zi don’t think information should be surpressed.

    How about this:

    Report the name of the killer. But all media uses a single stock photo for any and all of them: A pooping dog, hunched over and looking ashamed of himself.

  5. Ken Prevo says:

    I am a poor one to comment. I pretty much stopped watching local news quite a while back. When I do occasionally watch something, it will be The News Hour — even with its bias it still does some actual reporting. Maybe the occasional Deutsche Welle when I see something international that I am pretty sure won’t be picked up by local or national.

    I get a fair amount of news off the net. It is more like my father’s newspaper — the one where he could decide what was important. The 70’s brought the consultants to TV new and it has been downhill since. Now Sylvia — our Health Reporter — will tell you whether red wine is good or bad for you this week.

    So, name or not doesn’t matter, it will be over-covered and worked in to stories for the next year or so because it is a grabber.

  6. Randy says:

    It’s two of the most important questions we are taught to get in every story. Who? What? When? Where? and most important in this case, Why? It’s the question that haunts me as a parent. Who would do such a thing? Why, oh why, would you ever consider such an act?

    Despite protests to the contrary, I think most people still want to know those answers. I want to know. Even if it’s close to impossible to get that information out of such dark minds. I want police, psychiatrists and journalists working overtime to try to figure out what went wrong.

    Few things are solved in the dark. So, we’ll keep shining a light into those dark places. Maybe, someday, it’ll help. Maybe it’ll help a parent spot potential trouble in their own child’s future. Maybe it’ll push them to act and get help for their child before it’s too late. Maybe, it’ll save a few lives. Maybe it already has.

  7. CurtisK says:

    Drizz, Maybe the white male feels they are loaded with most of the responsibility for the ills of society (racism, sexism, homophobia, income gap, slavery, you name it) and no protection by and from the “PC” masses. I do feel entitled to equal treatment but don’t get or expect it any longer. Anybody think that is worth exploring? I doubt it anyone wants to give up scapegoats today.

  8. Andrew Moxon says:

    I’m in a unique position to speak for The White Male. You see, I am The White Male. Speaking as The White Male, I would have to say that entirely clear The White Male has been and continues to be the beneficiary of the ills of society (racism, sexism, homophobia, income gap, slavery, you name it) and still is. However, there has been a diminishment of this effect, and I think that Drizz is referring to the rage and frustration that some of The White Man feels as a result.

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  1. November 3, 2015

    […] occasional capital “R” Righteous Rant. Capitulation Nation, Remembering the First Kill, The F5 Nobody, and To the courageous Senator Lindsey Graham all fell neatly under that category. And while they […]

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