Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review Oct. 15, 2002 / 9 Mar-Cheshvan, 5763

Mitch Albom

Mitch Albom
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

We turn our serial killers into celebrities | How could someone do that?" a friend of mine asked. "How does someone get so sick?"

He was talking about the sniper who has been systematically killing innocent people in Maryland and Virginia, stalking them in their everyday acts, then shooting them as they put gas in their car or mow their lawns.

"He's jut picking them off, like target practice," my friend said. "He kills one, then he goes and kills another! What could possibly make a person that twisted?"

I thought about that as I headed home. I thought how only someone truly demented would be attracted to such random, unprovoked violence. I mean, the victims were just everyday people leading everyday lives, right?

And then I noticed a few things about our everyday lives.

I noticed the No. 1 movie in America is "Red Dragon," a film about what? Serial killers. We went in droves. We always do. We lionize its madman, Hannibal Lecter, so much so that the actor, Anthony Hopkins, has reprised the role three times.

An example of this was on displa I noticed a coming attractions preview for a film called "Phone Booth" in which a sniper holds a man hostage by threatening to shoot him if he hangs up the phone.

I noticed the biggest drama on network TV is "CSI," in which detectives try to find killers by examining the evidence left at the murder scene.

I notice a pattern.


I notice the nonstop TV coverage this sniper has gotten on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, even network and local TV. I notice the special reports and the breathless anchors who almost can't wait to bring you an update on a possible next victim.

I notice the forensics experts and the psychological experts, and the criminal, weapons and investigative experts who jump at the chance to sit in the chair and offer their opinions on the killer's motivation.

I notice the newspapers that carry stories about the sniper and the radio stations that play sound bites from mourning relatives. I notice the "Today" show, the most-watched morning news program, opening its show from Maryland, with Katie Couric sitting outside a police station.

I notice all this, and I remember that what often motivates serial killers is the attention their crimes keep getting them.

I notice it hasn't stopped.

I notice the Columbine High School shootings and how the two troubled teens eerily predicted that they would be famous after their killing spree.

I notice video games in which the sole purpose is to kill as many people as possible.

I notice a Web site called Sniper Country in which information about snipers, guns, scopes and other special equipment is readily available. There are even chats between visitors in which they debate the value of shooting at real people instead of targets. There is a message on that Web site in response to critics after the Maryland shootings. apologize. . . . Firearms have been at the heart and soul of the success of this nation."

I notice prisons that don't hold criminals for long. I notice "The Sopranos" and their "whack your enemies" mentality being celebrated.

In short, I notice a society where violence gets you famous, where serial killers are considered riveting, where guns are easily available, where Web sites spill out killing information and where the surest way to earn a TV movie of the week is to keep firing, keep firing.

"How could someone do that?" my friend asked. "How does someone get so sick?"

I don't know. Do you?

Comment on JWR contributor Mitch Albom's column by clicking here. You may purchase his runaway bestseller, Tuesdays with Morrie, by clicking here.


109/02/02: In Minnesota Vikings star receiver's view, he's king, you're dirt
09/26/01: The feds don't feel their pain
09/18/01: Some cling to life, others give it away
09/12/01: Worshipping a false 'Idol'
11/14/01: Patriotism is no excuse for stupidity
10/30/01: Dr. Dre: champ for First Amendment!
10/23/01: Terror is sugar-free
10/16/01: The army of the in-between
10/11/01: New war begins with delivery of darkness
10/08/01: Give peace a chance?
10/01/01: If this is supposed to make us feel secure, it isn't working
09/28/01: And our flag is still there
09/26/01: On the road to Ohio, life's little joys return
09/25/01: Our challenge: Not to change who we are
09/17/01: We can learn plenty from the horror
08/31/01: Back to school: Revenge of the boomers
08/22/01: The price of connectedness
08/16/01: An anniversary without celebration
07/31/01: Wanna name my kid? Pay me a cool Mil' --- OK, a half-mil'
07/25/01: Hey, there's no television on my ice floe!
07/10/01: When nobody knew what a Heisman was
07/02/01: Business opportunities for the empathy-impaired
06/25/01: Bunker mentality: At least Archie's meanness was satire
06/18/01: Famous fathers, eat your hearts out
06/05/01: 'No comment' on Bush twins is hard to swallow
05/30/01: Veteran scratches out the hatred
05/22/01: O.J.'s genius
05/15/01: No more kidding around
05/01/01: Haunted by the past
04/16/01: Before you file that extension...
04/11/01: Ever want to break an airport agent's neck? This guy did!
04/03/01: The best role models aren't on TV
03/19/01: 'March madness' is aptly named
03/07/01: I'm sorry, I apologize, I beg your forgiveness
03/05/01: Young fans' web sites become a Big Harry deal

© 2001 DFP