Orlando Florida, last weekend. Dozens of people murdered in a nightclub. Don’t tell me the name of the murderer. He’s dead. Let his name be forgotten. Refer to him as “that nutter who murdered dozens of people in Orlando”.
Norway, 2011. 77 people murdered by someone who’s still alive. I don’t want to know his name either, but every newsreader reporting on his crimes, and later about his trial, made strenuous efforts to pronounce all three parts of it correctly. His surname is committed to my memory, unfortunately. I entered the surname into a search engine to confirm the date of his murders, and the number of his victims. He has a page on Wikipedia. How many of his victims have their own pages on Wikipedia? When he was in the news every day I would shout at the TV, “Don’t pronounce his name so carefully, just call him that nutter who murdered all those kids in Norway. We know who you mean.” If both of our children were out of the room my ranting at the screen would feature swearwords (typically before the words “name” and “nutter”). Give us the names of all the people who died instead.
In Lionel Shriver’s book “We need to talk about Kevin” (I don’t think we need a spoiler alert here – it was published over ten years ago – but look away now if you don’t want to know anything about the book) part of the motivation for mass-murderers like Kevin is the fame that it brings them. They are looked down upon by their mass-murdering peers if their names are forgotten or if their crimes are not featured prominently in the news (something like Dick Cheney’s heart problems might relegate their exploits to the inside pages of the newspapers). Their names should be forgotten. Remember the names of those who died.