Don't give terrorists the fame they crave

People paying tribute at the Botanic Gardens in Christchurch on March 21, after the twin mosque shooting massacre that claimed the lives of fifty people.
People paying tribute at the Botanic Gardens in Christchurch on March 21, after the twin mosque shooting massacre that claimed the lives of fifty people. PHOTO: AFP

I support the calls made by Minister for Law and Home Affairs K. Shanmugam and the police in both New Zealand and Singapore to delete and not circulate videos of the mass shooting (Societies have to face reality of rising Islamophobia: Shanmugam, March 17).

Terrorists commit heinous crimes in order to intimidate a population or compel governments or organisations to accede to their demands, and further their ideological goals.

They often take advantage of the interconnected nature of our modern world to gain notoriety for their atrocities and spread fear.

As a society, we should not become unwitting participants in terror or help terrorists gain publicity by circulating videos of the shooting.

Some have gone even further than that.

In an American Behavioral Scientist study published last year, researchers Adam Lankford and Eric Madfis found that media publicity gives mass shooters the "fame" they seek, and may inspire copycat effects.

They proposed that media organisations no longer publish the names or photos of mass shooters, except during ongoing searches for suspects who have escaped.

In the United States, an increasing number of media outlets and personalities have followed suit, including news outlet The Daily Wire as well as CNN's Anderson Cooper and former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly.

The struggle against terror is not merely physical, but also ideological and even spiritual.

By refusing to give in to the fear and confusion spread by terrorists, and standing united against their unscrupulous means and goals, our resolve will instead strengthen us as a society and enliven the human spirit.

Darius Lee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2019, with the headline 'Don't give terrorists the fame they crave'. Print Edition | Subscribe