Is Coverage of the Boston Bombing Just News Porn?

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There are two quotes that keep coming to mind in wake of the Boston bombing.

"If you don't visit the bad neighborhood, it will visit you," Thomas Friedman.

"Wars exist to teach Americans geography." Unknown.

I Googled that last quote but all I found was posts I had written but I didn't come up with it.  Common sense gun safety (aka "gun control") measures are absolutely needed to prevent incidents like Sandy Hook but they would have done nothing to prevent the Boston Marathon bombing or the nightmare we are seeing unfold outside that city today.  I would be willing to bet 99.99 percent of the United States had no idea what is going on Chechnya or even where on the map it falls.  So it looks like these brothers were looking to  bring attention to that.

If I said I knew everything about Chechnya, I would be lying.  I do know that they have been trying to secede from Russia for some years now.  Vladimir Putin has been claiming that the rebels aka Chechen nationalists are affiliated with al Qaeda.  This strikes me as being incredibly self-serving.  I have no idea with whom they align themselves but this is the current day equivalent of saying they worship satan.

Over the past few months, since the Newtown tragedy, we've heard a lot of talk about the Second Amendment.  I don't believe in absolutes -- the only laws that cannot be broken are the laws of physics -- so as a staunch defender of the First Amendment, I think we need to look at how we handle crises like this one.

The brothers accused so far of perpetrating these horrors were allegedly trying to draw attention to their cause.  They didn't pick any large sporting event, they picked the largest, single day athletic event on earth.  More press passes are issued for this than anything else.  Want a big stage for your play?  You don't get bigger than this.

Some countries limit what coverage a crime can receive.  When I went to London for the first time, I learned that the IRA often bombed London at Christmas.  I had not heard about that before because they didn't allow them to be publicized.  Canada has similar restrictions.  If you don't think watching coverage of the manhunt feels a little like porn than I guess we are on a different page on this.

In 1981, John Hinkley, Jr. shot President Ronald Reagan to impress Jodie Foster.  In 1992, MTV launched "The Real World" (our first reality TV show).  In 1999, we had Columbine.

Shooting one person isn't enough to shock, it has to be two then three and then even the number of dead and wounded isn't enough so we have to go younger.  In 2012, it was first graders, where will it go next year?  In 1992, it was the Real World, today we have Honey Boo BooHoarders and the Real Housewives of ...  It seems the crazier we are, the better chance we have of getting on television.  And that's the ultimate goal, is it not?

We need to do more than limit the number of bullets that can be fired in a short amount of time.  We need to do more than make sure violent people don't get guns. Increased jail time won't do it but maybe not turning criminals into celebrities is a start.  Our "Son of Sam" laws prevent criminals from benefiting from their crimes, maybe we need to think about a way to apply that to coverage of things like this.

I don't have the answers here but I don't think we have to have them all to make a difference.  It's not always about having the answers, it's about having the conversation.