Late in the morning of February, 18th, 2010, all news services in Germany interrupted their programs to send an “emergency announcement”: “Homicidal maniac kills teacher at a school in Ludgwigshafen”. Why is this an emergency announcement?
What makes this news important? What is it the media want to achieve by reporting it?
It is an emergency announcement because it is well suited to get people’s attention. No matter what people are just doing – having sex, brushing their teeth or doing bank business – this information will immediately get their attention. The media make themselves look important by whatever they can successfully label “important”. Sex and Crime – both as perverse as possible – promise the greatest attention, and so do catastrophes.
The emergency announcement itself does not give these reasons for being reported. We never get to hear in the news that the report is only written because it makes the reporter look personally important, or else because every news agency must report what all others have just reported. Instead, we are put off with the consideration that all news services and agencies have a duty to inform the public.
The latest homicidal maniac case in the February of 2010 is, above all, another example for how detrimental a false sense of duty can be. Instead of wanting to do their duty, people would be better advised to concentrate on thinking about the consequences of their behaviour. What happened in Ludwigshafen is not characterized by its immense importance, at least not outside those who are concerned in the worst possible way. Giving everyone the impression that the increased frequency of exceptional events like homicidal maniacs at German schools can serve to prove the growing evil of the world is just wrong.
If there is an increase of homicidal maniacs, then the reason is that they can count on exactly the attention they get from the media.
If the media were capable of balancing their duty to inform the public with their responsibility to avoid danger, the motivation for homicidal maniacs would be reduced to a minimum. Instead, we will have to spend enormous sums on converting schools even more towards becoming prisons supervised by soldiers. This will increase the pressure on young people who then will try to escape through actions of violence even more. Consequently, this will again cause more surveillance and the aggressions of those who are surveyed and administered will again increase.
Along with this, we promote the tendency towards a multiplying bureaucracy without students learning anything. The news industry has already written the lament about the decrease of education and only need to take it out of their desk drawers.
The reason the emergency announcement of Ludwigshafen is an emergency announcement is because those who write the news cannot agree to refrain from reporting maniac homicides and terrorist attacks as emergency announcements in the future and position them with the random events of the day with only local interest.
As long as these kinds of emergency announcements exist, we will continue to be subjected to performances making us believe that structural errors of society are moral deficits. Incidentally, Ludwigshafen was again one of those instances where a psychopath provided society with exactly the kind of information it is craving.
The Ludwigshafen homicidal maniac is just as little outside or society as all other murderers with similar patterns: they know how to use a final great act for proving to themselves and to the world how much power they have and how powerless those whom they thought they were suffering under actually are. And these are the kinds of people we give all our attention to, instead of showing them the cold shoulder.
(Translated by EG)