A Stimulant to Assassins
A photograph of the criminal who
assassinated the President is said by the press despatches [sic]
to have been taken and scattered broadcast. What purports to be
his photograph has certainly appeared in the sensational journals.
For officials to permit this, if possible to prevent it, is incredible
folly. It is a well-known fact that a criminal of this type often
glories in the notoriety which he obtains. One of his most potent
motives is the desire to be notorious. To have his name telegraphed
over the whole world, to be mentioned in every news periodical,
to be discussed in thousands of editorials, appeals to his morbid
vanity with great power. But to have his portrait before the eyes
of millions of people, in connection with the sensational story
of his crime, is to him the very acme of glory. Officials with any
sense of responsibility, and with any regard for the public interests,
ought to do all in their power to prevent this gratification of
his vanity, which may also stimulate other morbid minds to imitate
his crime. The sensational journalist may care something for the
public welfare, but not enough to hinder him a moment from doing
it grievous and fearful injury if by so doing he can pander the
more to the vicious tastes of his degenerate readers, and bring
more revenue to himself. He is likely to try every means, however
disreputable, to get a portrait of such a criminal, but it would
be to the lasting honor of the officials in charge, and show a proper
regard for the public interest, if they would allow none to obtain
his portrait except those to whom the law may require it to be given.
The press is full of suggestions about the way to prevent such crime.
Yet the more degraded portion of the press offers a lurid notoriety
which is the supreme desire of a certain class of criminals, as
a premium for the commission of any heinous crime. Reputable journals
ought to do much more than they do to create a just public sentiment
on this subject. Yet some of them discreditably defend the sensationalism.