Don’t Speak… His Name.


Remember these faces and names.Image: nbcnews.tumblr.com

Remember these faces and names.
Image: nbcnews.tumblr.com

Since Friday when the horrific news of the Newtown, CT mass murder/shooting broke, the nation has been transfixed.  It’s hard to go on line, turn on the TV, pass a news stand- do anything outside of taking a shower, without hearing or reading more about the tragedy. I’m not suggesting that it’s too much. This is an enormous event that has touched people all over the world. The murder of 20 very young children and 6 of their educators, is indeed newsworthy. It has led to endless debate about gun control, mental health care and violence in our society, on  Facebook, in the news and in daily conversations. It’s an event that is on everyone’s mind regardless of where you stand on any of these issues.

On Friday afternoon, as I went out to pick up a Hanukkah gift that my own son had really been wanting, I listened to an analysis on NPR. This person (I don’t recall who) maintained that if news agencies refused to print or say the names of perpetrators of these mass killings, it would be far less alluring to potential killers. Unstable people who might be hoping to get noticed by killing a large group of unknown people, may view it totally differently if they knew that their names would not be discussed and analyzed until they’re engrained in our collective memories. While I don’t personally believe that most of these killings involve a desire for social celebrity or fame, I do agree that this may play in the minds of a disturbed young person (most of these events have been committed by young men) who are considering violence. We are a culture that feeds on celebrity and fame; it certainly must occur to these young men that in addition to hurting the people they aim to slaughter, they may end up famous as well.

Sadly, most of us can recall the names of several mass killers. The events are played and replayed, while the name of  the killer is repeated in each reporting. We often know these names as much as the events themselves. However, we don’t remember any of the victims, aside from the details of their deaths. We remember that they were children in a school, people in a movie theater, residents attending a political event, etc; we do not know their names. We learn the names of killers; we don’t know the names of victims— and there’s something terribly wrong with that.

As details of the massacre on Friday have been reported, several news agencies have begun reports by saying that they will not use the name of the killer. They then proceed to say that very name, once, they assure us, in the name of “reporting,” in the name of “history.” In one breath they say they will not use the name, to avoid sensationalizing the them, but then they immediately say the name. After days of hearing and reading about the event, that name is stuck in my brain. I woke with that name in my head today and yesterday.

My nephew Ben's hockey stick, now bears the name of Noah Pozner, who will never play hockey... but who will be remembered.

My nephew Ben’s hockey stick, now bears the name of Noah Pozner, who will never play hockey… but who will be remembered.

Tonight my 15 year old nephew and the members of his Wilton, CT hockey team did something remarkable to change that. Their junior varsity and varsity high school team will play a game against the Newtown Nighthawks (yes, the same Sandy Hook Elementary, Newtown) this Wednesday night. To honor the children that were killed, each of the players on my nephew’s team has adopted the name of one of the murdered children, and will display it on their hockey sticks. Each of those kids has learned the name of one murdered child. They are carrying that name with them; they are honoring the killed, not the killer.

This simple gesture has touched me deeply. It renews my faith in goodness and right. My wonderful nephew, who I adore, and his friends are doing something that we all should do. They are taking a moment to really think about each of the 27 people who were murdered, beyond being a statistic or detail. In putting Noah Pozner’s name on his hockey stick, my nephew has chosen to really think about that little boy and the fact that he will never play hockey, never ride his bike into town alone, never grow up. Each of those 20 children will never do all of the things that we hope for our own children. Each of the caring adults who sought to protect those children and were killed, will not go home to their families. They will not live out their lives in the ways they might have dreamed or imagined. But, they will be remembered by a group of high school aged boys in Wilton.

If news agencies truly stopped focusing on the names of killers, and repeated the names of those killed, it might in fact have an impact on future killings. Again, I don’t believe it would stop all killers. These are individuals who are deeply troubled, and it is very difficult to predict what will impact them. I think that for some of them, the lack of fame and acknowledgement—the idea that they will be erased from history—may be a deterrent. If it is not a deterrent, then isn’t it a far better, nobler, idea that we would remember those that are killed, than those who cause so much pain and suffering?

Remember these names; think about them. Carry them in your heart. Don’t use the name of the killer. Don’t speak his name, speak their names.

screen-shot-2012-12-15-at-7-07-49-pm

(image courtesy of smpalestine.com)

Hit like if you agree that we should ignore the killers, and remember those killed. Leave me a comment. Share this post.

Also read: “Our Hearts Are Broken Today” and  this Huffington Post article

About Dawn Quyle Landau

Mother, Writer, treasure hunter, aging red head, and sushi lover. This is my view on life, "Straight up, with a twist––" because life is too short to be subtle! Featured blogger for Huffington Post, and followed on Twitter by LeBron James– for reasons beyond my comprehension.
This entry was posted in Awareness, Blogging, blogs, Daily Observations, Death, Honest observations on many things, Life, Musings, News, Tales From the Motherland, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Don’t Speak… His Name.

  1. danbalva says:

    Great post! Thank you for reminding us the importance of remembering and honoring those whose lives were taken rather than remembering the killer. And what your nephew and his hockey team are doing is truly incredible! Thank you for sharing!!

    Like

    • Thank you for taking the time to read my post and for commenting. I agree; what my nephew and his friends is doing is truly remarkable. I’ve always been proud to be his aunt, but sometimes it’s a wee bit sweeter. I hope you’ll check out some of my other posts, and let me know what you think. I appreciate you stopping by!

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  2. How wonderful that your nephew can be part of the healing. In that small state, the entire state is mourning. As we all are. Yes, let’s not glorify the killer. It’s seeing the photos of the guns that got me– really– who needs them? Just like who needs to drive Hummers on suburban streets? I’m hoping we can change. Great post.

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    • Thanks Lisa. I agree, we are all grieving. We’ve all been shaken and I believe there are ways in which we can all look at this differently and honor the dead. The guns… they are a nightmare that won’t go away. Maybe we can learn to control them a little. This whole thing his beyond horrific.

      Like

  3. Mike Landau says:

    Good posting. I couldn’t agree more.

    Dad

    Sent from my iPad

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  4. Touching tribute. It’s so good to hear about something like this.

    Like

    • Thanks Fern. There is so little good that comes out of this, but if we open a dialogue and consider other ways of looking at violence, then perhaps we move forward a tiny bit.Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and read my post. Much appreciated!

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  5. This is right on, Dawn. There is energy behind each name. When I contemplate each child and conjure up their little life, it fills me with love. Those news stories are saturating us to the point where we feel nothing, but as soon as those names of the victims come up and we see their sweet faces we are moved to tears. It’s so powerful. When president Obama spoke at that religious vigil, it wasn’t until he said each victim’s name that the energy in the room changed. It was charged with a level of love and compassion that was physically felt by all.
    I love the idea of putting the names on the hockey sticks. It feels so right. Let the healing begin.

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    • Absolutely! Each time the names are read, each time I look at that list, my focus and feelings shift back to what is really important… rather than the details that shock and disturb. There are so many angles to this tragedy, and while I don’t think the name of the killer is the only important view, I believe it matters more than we might realize. Thanks for sharing Grippy. Hope you are healing. Think of you often. xo

      Like

  6. sittingpugs says:

    When a person’s name is remembered, it’s usually because this person’s actions has substantially affected other people. I wouldn’t be surprised if after a certain period of time passed, certain offenders’ names would recede from memory while the nature of their crimes remains.

    After an even longer period of time goes by, the images that made headlines and spread across Associated Press/Reuters outlets are still quickly accessed in the mind’s eye but the names of the guilty (or suspected guilty) have faded.

    There’s a balancing act that media saturation facilitates, though. For each news story I read that pertains to someone being the victim of assault, rape, theft, fraud, bullying, or neglect, I can recall countless YouTube videos I’ve watched of people playing with their pets, putting on makeup, eating as many Twinkies as they can in under two minutes, and baby pandas at various zoos.

    Like

    • I agree with much of this point Lisa, but I would also argue that most of us, when we talk about Columbine and other major violent events, immediately recall the killer’s names as well. Those names are repeated each time there’s a new tragedy, those names are taught in courses, the names are used enough so that they are familiar to the collective psyche. That is what I think needs to change. I’m glad you took the time to share your thoughts, twice. There’s the Lisa I know! 😉

      Like

      • sittingpugs says:

        Lisa? Who’s Lisa. Curious. ^O^

        Like

        • sittingpugs… hmm, weird happenings on my comment page today. When I logged in earlier, I saw your comment and wrote a long response. It seems to be gone. Later, I got a notification that Lisa at A Gripping Life had left a comment. It was the same comment you had left, and I thought somehow I’d answered the wrong person, earlier. Sorry for the mix up. I’ll start again, since my response seems to have evaporated (the problem with using the drop down comments)…

          Thanks for stopping by Tales From the Motherland, and thanks even more for taking the time to leave a comment. While I agree with your point, I also disagree. I feel that we do indeed remember the people who carry out the really big killings. Most people can name the 2 young men involved in Columbine (the firs that comes to mind) and numerous other similar killings. I am refusing to print those names here. I know that the names are taught in courses on criminal law, in history, etc… and I am making the point that this should change. I believe that the media could just as easily tell the story “a 20 year old man, who lived with his mother, etc… opened fire on a school full of young children.” His relevance to the event could be discussed, but his name left out. By entirely expunging his name, making absolutely no reference to it, refusing to show his image, etc… a certain number of copy cat crimes might (key word might) be avoided. There are definitely sited cases where the perpetrators were known to have told people “you’ll all know my name,” “you’ll remember me,” etc. While I don’t believe that this is why most people who commit such crimes do it, the idea of being cut off from notoriety and fame, may be some deterrent. I know that it is a very complex issue.

          Again, thank you for your comment and sorry that the responses got scrambled. I hope you’ll check out some of my other posts, and share your thoughts again. The feedback and dialogue is much appreciated! 🙂

          Like

  7. Carrie Rubin says:

    I agree. I won’t even say his name, and I cringe whenever I hear it on TV. Like you, I want to remember the names of those who lost their lives in this tragedy. That’s a lovely gesture your nephew and his teammates are doing.

    Like

    • I am so proud of my nephew. He is a really special boy, year ’round, but this really is step about the usual. He and his team mates are a stellar group of young boys.

      I too will not speak his name. Thanks for joining the dialogue Carrie!

      Like

  8. Pingback: Stop mentioning the names of mass murderers « Sunset Daily

  9. Valery says:

    Wow. Could not agree more. It seems like these murderers are aiming for points in a game. Completely de-humanizing. I keep the tv off now because each time they show his face I scream (in anger, at the media’s stupidity). I prefer to focus on what my friends share, which is the beauty of life, so precious.

    Like

    • Thanks Val. I have had my TV on, admittedly, but you are the wise one. It doesn’t help at all, and it just keeps me up. Haven’t turned it on today… too sad to watch. I am with you, just so frustrated with hearing this boy’s name… Thanks for reading each blog!

      Like

  10. Brian says:

    Hi Dawn–well stated and kudos to your nephew’s hockey team. I think that is great. If you ever listened to Paul Harvey, he would often skip over the names of those who wrought heinous crimes on scociety. “…and the person responsible for this would probably want me to mention their name at this point, but I won’t…page 3!” he would often state at the end of such news reports. Thanks for the reality check on it all.

    Peace,
    Brian

    Like

    • I never listened to Paul Harvey, but it sounds like he had it right for sure! Page 3 indeed… The news this week has been so hard to bear, and hearing this kid’s name only adds insult to injury.

      Yes, my nephew is a really amazing kid… and he’s a pretty good hockey player too. Thanks for taking the time Brian.

      Like

  11. Paul Harvey is missed. Talesof– wonderful post. and high praise for you Nephew and team.

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  12. Touching and beautifully written.
    I loved the hokey teams’ tributes. Kids are so wonderful.

    Like

    • Thank you Marylin. My nephew’s hockey team was truly amazing, in their kindness and compassion. The parents didn’t didn’t do any of it, the boys made all of the effort. Thank you for stopping by TFTM. I hope you will read more and share your thoughts.

      Like

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