An interesting opinion piece by Vicki Leon was recently published in the L.A. Times entitled, ‘For mass killers, no name, no fame — forever: Take a lesson from 356B.C.: Infamy should not be headlined.’
In the article, Leon discusses how in 356 B.C. a citizen of the Greek city, Ephesus, shamelessly burnt down a temple and killed many citizens. He made no attempt to escape, and when caught he bragged about his name becoming immortalized. To deal with this, the Ephesians passed a law that decreed anyone who uttered his name would meet the death penalty. This ‘name ban’ apparently remained in place for a long time.
The article then goes on to suggest how if we could create some contemporary equivalent to this ban, then it would surely be worth a try.
I would be opposed to such a ban, personally, and for two reasons. Firstly, I find nothing wrong with names like Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, or Richard Ramirez striking fear into our hearts. Let them serve as reminders as to what kind of people are ‘out there’, and let their names be yelled out and condemned by the families of their victims. Ironically, if you silence the killer’s name, you silence the memory of their victims.
Secondly, who cares if the egomaniacal killer loves all of the media attention? Should we silence the media just because the killer is loving his time in the spotlight? The media who are letting us know who was responsible, who he killed, how he killed, and where he was operating. A psychopathic killer is likely to feel a sick glee for what he’s done, regardless of attention. Provided that the media are sympathetic to the victims and law enforcement, I don’t see a problem with the mass proliferation of a killer’s name.
Laws that promote silence are never going to be a good thing.
Copyright Jack Pemment, 2013