Anorak | The Sandy Hook massacre: Obama makes martyrs of the dead as media fetishises grief and fear

The Sandy Hook massacre: Obama makes martyrs of the dead as media fetishises grief and fear

by | 17th, December 2012

THE Sandy Hook massacre features on the cover of the UK press.

In March 2012, 16 Afghan civilians were killed by U.S. Army Soldier Robert Bales, allegedly.

Can you name them? Did President Obama weep on the TV? Was it front-page news in the UK?

The Sun leads with news of the massacre in Sandy Hook. But how can it justify such intense coverage? The US is accessible. We share the same language. America invented rolling news and burnished news anchors and reporters into personalities, dispatched to deliver not the facts but news the audience will enjoy. Last week the news was obsessed with the death of Jacintha Saldanha, the “Royal nurse” who had committed suicide. This week we’re invited to gawp at terrible events in small town in Connecticut.

The Sun just wants to stare. But that would be rude. It needs something that will chime with its readers. So. It’s called AMERICA’S DUNBLANE “.

On 13 March 1996, Thomas Hamilton walked into Dunblane Primary School and shot dead sixteen children and one adult before committing suicide.

You can read more about the middle-aged killer here . And how the truth has been covered up .

In 1996, Michael North, whose daughter Sophie was killed at the mass shooting in the Primary School at Dunblane, Scotland, wrote the following comments in the Sunday Times :

“It is time to turn the tide against gun culture. Hand-guns were designed for one purpose only – to kill. They weren’t banned after Hungerford (a previous UK mass shooting) because of the pressure of the gun lobby. Public safety was sacrificed to preserve a privilege for a minority who have had a disproportionate influence on our law-makers. Campaigning for a total ban on hand-guns will ensure that this country becomes a safer place.”

The campaign was successful and a shocked UK Government rushed through a total ban on hand-guns licensed for use by the general public. Restrictions were also introduced relating to possession and storage of rifles and shotguns which are still widely used in rural areas for pest control.

So. Will “America’s Dunblane” leads to curbs on guns ownership in the US?

The Sun goes for the heart. Its front page is punctuated with 18 thumbnail photos of murdered children. The dead are not just a number, as they are when a bomb goes off in the Middle East or Afghanistan. They all have faces. On pages 4 and 5, the children each get a biography, a small obituary with quotes taken from Facebook postings and other sources:

Jessica Rekos, 6: “Brunette Jessica’s mum is a sixth-grade teacher…”

We are invited to look at the murdered child’s hair. The dead child was a brunette. The Sun wants us to see the photo and know the fact.

Ana Marquez-Greene , 6, is cute “.

Avielle Richman , 6, was also cute “.

Emilie Parker, 6, is the child “with blue eyes, blonde hair and freckles…”

This fetishising of grief, the mourn porn, is not universal. The Sun has no pictures of two of the victims: Allison Wyatt, 6, and Madeleine Hsu, also 6. Their parents didn’t want the children’s pictures broadcast around the world. Private grief does not always have to become orchestrated and public. If you need pictures of weeping parents and murdered children to make you empathise, you’re lacking

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Posted: 17th, December 2012 | In: Key Posts, News Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink