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Source: Case and Comment
Source type: journal
Document type: editorial
Document title: “A Stimulant to Assassins”
Author(s): anonymous
Date of publication: September 1901
Volume number: 8
Issue number: 4
Pagination: 184

“A Stimulant to Assassins.” Case and Comment Sept. 1901 v8n4: p. 184.
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Leon Czolgosz (photographs); McKinley assassination (investigation: criticism); McKinley assassination (news coverage: criticism); yellow journalism.
Named persons


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.



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