There are times when exemplary actions place individuals into categories where others give them the recognition that they deserve. Unfortunately, our society also tends to remember a person for committing something that is a horrific and infamous act.
My praise goes to New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Arden for her condemnation of the March 15 attacks at two Christchurch mosques that resulted in the deaths of 50 people. Rather than enable the shooter to gain infamy for his murderous acts, Prime Minister Arden stated: “You will never hear me mention his name. He is a terrorist, he is a criminal, he is an extremist. But he will, when I speak, be nameless.”
If more people, be they politicians, media persons or whomever, would make this the normal response to all such tragedies, hopefully, such acts might become less frequent and the perpetrators not receive recognition for themselves or their devious objectives.
Why should perpetrators of violence be acknowledged after they have reaped sorrow and harm upon others? Why can’t our supposedly civilized society place an evil person into a status of being persona non grata, of never being mentioned again? It is their victims who should be spoken of and remembered, not the dastardly perpetrators.
In ancient Greece, a man set fire to the Temple of Artemis; a temple which had a beauty to make it one of the Seven Wonders of the World. So as to receive his place in history, Herostratus acknowledged his responsibility for this act of arson. For his deed, Herostratus was executed, but as an attempt not to have similar fame-seekers, the Greek authorities forbade the mention of his name under the penalty of death. Such recognition for a forbidden deed is referred to as Herostratic fame, or in our times more commonly as a “copycat crime.”
If you will recall some people from history who caused the deaths of renowned individuals or masses – I expect that the persons who killed Presidents Abraham Lincoln or John F. Kennedy, or Rev. Martin Luther King, or committed a mass killing such as the 1989 Montreal Massacre – might appear in your recollections.
People who commit acts of violence, such as murders and/or rapes, should not be allowed to gain a celebrity prestige because of their dastardly deeds. They should never be elevated to an icon status. As soon as they are convicted of such acts of violence, their names should not be circulated via any means for recognition.
If we refuse to repeat the names or to acknowledge the existences of those guilty of committing such acts of violence, we can strive to provide recognition only to their victims. The least we can do for the harmed is to not repeat, or even remember, the identities of the perpetrators of such horrendous crimes.
If the ancient Greek authorities recognized the intention of an arsonist in 356 BC, why can’t we be as savvy in 2019? I am not advocating death to those who acknowledge the names of such criminals, but only for us to do what we are able to remember and to recognize the victims and not those who committed the violence.
To Prime Minister Arden, I say thank you for demonstrating your resolve to not recognize a dastardly person.
It continues to puzzle me why many in our society want to perpetuate recognition for those who commit such dreadful acts. Because such acknowledgements remain so prevalent, I have revamped my October 29, 2014 article entitled “Remember the Victims” and present it again with updates.