Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Mall Killings: The Arc of Insane Fame

Half a century ago, TV created a new kind of American assassin, one who would escape insignificance by killing someone famous--a President or a star like John Lennon--and become famous for doing it.

Now we are in a new phase of this madness, where quantity has replaced quality in selecting victims. After yesterday's random killing of eight people in an Omaha mall, police report finding a suicide note from the 19-year-old shooter, who had been fired by MacDonald's, saying he was going to be famous.

He joins the Virginia Tech rampage killer who left self-pitying videos in achieving notoriety through mass murder. Perhaps this new stage of insane fame was inevitable. Arthur Bremer, who was just released after 35 years in prison, wanted to assassinate Richard Nixon but settled for Gov. George Wallace because the President was too well-guarded. It's so much easier to kill numbers of people at random.

In our grief, perhaps we should do with these sociopaths what the media do with rape victims, withhold their names, certainly not to protect them but to deny them the fame that motivated their savagery. It's the least we can do out of respect for the victims.

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