I am dismayed and disheartened by the approach the news media have taken to the discovery of the bodies of the two Port Alberni murder suspects in Northern Manitoba.
I couldn’t help but notice that the news of the discovery was preceded mere hours before by an article in the Vancouver Sun something about “Wilderness experts say killers are nowhere near Manitoba.” And who are these “experts?” Television reality show stars! “The Tracker” may have a lot of woodcraft, but he is only an expert in acting on TV, where he gets to play cowboy, raring around on his fine horse in dramatic camera shots. Who knows how “Survivorman” got his qualifications.
They have no idea how a real police investigation succeeds: painstaking attention to detail, large numbers of people spending countless hours of mind-numbing routine covering every eventuality, including the numerous false leads created by people with nothing to do but indulge themselves in the fantasy of social media.
If the regular media wants to retain its market share, perhaps helping us with the distinction between news and entertainment might help.
“Now We’ll Never Know”
The second thing that bothers me is this whole “Now we’ll never know” theme that runs through all the reports. There are two reasons for this statement, depending on who makes it.
First the police, who know they’re never going to be able to close the file and are just preparing the victims’ families for that disappointment.
Then there’s the media, who are in the entertainment business, we must remember, using the idea to stretch their coverage out more. “Now we’ll never know, so we’re going to spend the next two weeks speculating about it.” What they are mostly lamenting is that the story will now come to a close, and they’ll stop making money off it.
I suppose the third interpretation is, “Now we’ll never be able to get closure,” which is a load of media-created hogwash. “Closure” doesn’t exist. It’s a concept that attempts to control the uncontrollable by pretending that there is anything that grieving families can do to ease the pain. It’s a euphemism created by the news media for “revenge.” The “Did it give you closure?” question is usually asked of the families of the victims when the criminal is sentenced. In other words, “Is the sentence long enough to give you enough revenge?” Of course, if you think that way, it never will be long enough.
We Know All We Need to Know
Nobody in the general public needs any more gory details. We only need to be aware that Canada has just had another bout of the self-imposed epidemic our neighbours to the south are going through. We have a nasty streak in our society that destroys the self-confidence of our children. In a small percentage of the population, this leads to an extreme reaction, often bolstered by the false sense of security provided by supremacist organizations; it doesn’t matter whether it’s ISIS or the Aryan Brotherhood, the effect is the same.
And the fascinating thing about the human psyche is that it’s impossible to tell where the damage was done. I know a lot of my more conservative readers will now be ranting about “proper discipline.” And that’s the key word: proper. My experience with children tells me that either too much or too little discipline creates the same insecurity. So for every parental second-guesser who says “Those kids were never disciplined enough,” there’s another saying, “Those kids were bullied.” And either one could be right.
Sometimes both. The worst kind of parenting possible, as I mentioned in last week’s report, is the kind that ignores the child and then comes down too heavily in an attempt to make up for it.
The Bottom Line
Perpetrators of these awful acts are usually insecure individuals looking for attention. Perhaps a huge media splash is necessary in achieving the public cooperation necessary to catch the offenders. But once the manhunt is over, the best thing we can do is stop talking about it, even in this case, where the offenders are no longer around to revel in the publicity. Stop splashing their names and pictures in the public’s faces. Remember, the next shooter is paying attention. Soon he’s going to want his share.