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linguaphile's avatar

Interview with a former school shooter, right or wrong?

Asked by linguaphile (13587 points ) December 31st, 2012

Most people know about Columbine, but very few people know about a 1988 school shooting in Florida. I attended this high school, but had transferred to another school right before this happened, so didn’t experience it firsthand. My mother worked there and many of my friends were inside the cafeteria when it happened. When I found this article, I had many mixed feelings- so am wondering what others think.

This is the article summarizing an interview with a former school-shooter.

The newspaper went and looked up both of the school shooters from a 1988 incident. They interviewed one of them. What do you think? Is it right or wrong? Is there anything to be gained from this? What about Harless’ responses?

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7 Answers

jrpowell's avatar

Harless believes none of these, he said. Asked what he thinks might prevent shootings: “Nothing,” he said. “At the end of the day, there are no preventable measures. It’s human nature.”

Toss his ass back in jail and I will manage the key by throwing it in a volcano.

I agree that you can’t prevent it. But you can make it harder for people to spray 30 bullets in a second.

Self_Consuming_Cannibal's avatar

This is kind of a double-edged sword. I think school shootings, while it saddens and sickens us, also arouses our curiousity and we want to know the “who, what, when, where and why.” But I think the problem is, a lot of the shooters want to make a statement either through their death or if they choose not to shoot themselves or have a shootout with the cops (like James Holmes) then they get all this media attention. I think this is sometimes (part of) the motivation for these senseless acts.

So by reading and watching things pertaining to these acts, we are giving the shooters what they want thereby perhaps encouraging others who want to make a statement to do the same.

I honestly can’t say whether it’s right or wrong to interview mass murderers, but I can say that when they do America will be listening.

Bellatrix's avatar

I don’t think this situation is the same as Newtown or Columbine. If the interview is to be believed he didn’t go to the school to kill anyone. They had the guns with them to take when they ran away from home. Circumstances (getting caught with the guns) led to the deaths.

I don’t think we learn much from this interview. It doesn’t offer us any insight into mass shootings generally or what can be done to prevent them (or whether anything can be done to prevent them). This person (the interviewee) isn’t an expert. He hasn’t interviewed and studied people who have committed this type of crime. He is just putting forward his opinion and since his crime was quite different, he is offering a no more informed opinion than anyone else.

Should the interview have taken place? I don’t know. I agree the story has news value. People will want to read this man’s story. Does it perhaps give him publicity he shouldn’t get, yes. Still, where do we draw the line? If you say no this story shouldn’t have been written, then should books about serial killers or other criminals be written? Then you can get into the whole ‘should criminals profit from their crimes’. Was the interviewee paid for his interview? Is that ethical.

I think the answer to these questions is an individual thing. For me, I am on the fence. I don’t see the benefit of the story but then I see the news value for the newspaper and as long as he wasn’t paid, I don’t think the interview is unethical.

flutherother's avatar

This interview didn’t shed any light on why school shootings happen. Jason Harless and Adam Lanza are quite different kids the only common denominator is easy access to guns.

Judi's avatar

I’m having a hard time believing he’s out of prison while minor drug offenders are doing hard time. Our system is really messed up.

burntbonez's avatar

I agree that this guy only knows about his situation, but that doesn’t mean he’s wrong. I would tend to agree that there’s nothing that can be done about mass murders. They are too unusual, and each the result of very specific circumstances and each unpredictable.

I think that if we learn to treat everyone with respect, and that parents don’t get all uppity about kids respecting them simply because they are parents, and they work to earn kids respect and work to understand their children when the children are not who they expected them to be, then we might make a difference. I think all kids want to be loved and cared for and trusted and believed. But a lot of parents don’t do that.

When kids feel like they are bad, they become bad. Parents and teachers all work to set these expectations and a lot of it happens in unconscious ways. And most of it is bogus. Kids aren’t good or bad. They just respond to the expectations of those around them. If we expect everyone to be good, they will be.

Mariah's avatar

I think we need to learn the motives in order to better understand how to stop it happening again. In this sense, interviews are a good idea…but I do think we need to stop reporting the names of shooters and leave them to die in anonymous shame. Currently they die in infamy and notoriety and for some reason, other sick minded people see that and want it.

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