The shooter’s name went unspoken at a news conference on the killings at a church in Sutherland Springs, Tx., and authorities there said they intend to keep refraining from saying it, the Associated Press reports. “We do not want to glorify him and what he has done,” said Texas Department of Public Safety Regional Director Freeman Martin. FBI agent Christopher Combs agreed, saying “we don’t talk about the shooter” in the hope that it “doesn’t encourage other people to do horrific acts.” That choice reflects a larger movement of authorities, victims’ families and academics who want to deny to mass killers the fame they often seek, and to keep from inspiring the next one.
The movement was created by No Notoriety, a group at the forefront of the effort that focuses on spreading simple, meme-friendly ideas. “Stop making rampage mass murderers famous,” read a post on Facebook and Twitter, along with a blotted out photo of the Texas shooter, who killed 26 people. Caren and Tom Teves, whose son, Alex, was killed while shielding his girlfriend in the 2012 shooting in Aurora, Co., started the group. They were driven to act by feelings of disgust, but found common cause with experts. Zeynep Tufekci, a professor at the University of North Carolina who studies the social effects of technology, said evidence shows that future mass shooters were carefully watching coverage of the most recent attacks. She has urged news outlets to avoid repetition of the killer’s name and face, and steer clear of step-by-step discussions of their methods. Tufekci said media outlets already are cautious in what they report about suicides for fear of inspiring copycats, and doing the same for mass shooters would be “just sound editorial policy, not censorship.”