April 2, 2013

A way to prevent massacres

I know this concept has its problems, but stay with me here. Now, we have this problem with crazy males, usually white and young, who think it's a grand idea to shoot up movie theaters, classrooms, malls, etc. And what do they want? Fame. (They don't seem to grasp the distinction between fame and notoriety, but let's not split hairs here.) The question is what can we do about it. Try this on for size.

What if we announce an award -- something like, but not identical to, a Bronze Star -- for those who stop themselves from committing a massacre, either by committing suicide or turning themselves in. To advertise the new award, we make a big media splash about the offer, and when the first almost-killer commits suicide before taking action -- he is treated like a true hero and awarded this Star.

Not only this, but we create a special prison for these lunkheads. And we promise potential massacre-stoppers that they can play violent video games for the rest of their lives with similar potential sociopaths in this prison. I mean, who cares, right? They're out of the way and they won't cause any deaths. Problem solved.

At first I thought of this only as an "If you commit suicide before killing anyone, we'll give you the award" notion. The problem with this is that it would encourage mentally unbalanced people to kill themselves. Not good. But by adding in the idea that they can also turn themselves in, and still score the award and a bunk in the video-game prison, I think this issue disappears.

I know it sounds nuts. But it also could work. All they want is fame, right? We'll do TV shows about how they stopped themselves in time. So the choice facing these poor souls is this: do you want to be remembered by people who hate you, or people who admire you?

I know the idea needs work, but what do you think?

UPDATE: A moment after publishing this, I came across a story that presents the messier side of a notion like this. Check it out.

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