Another city, another 50 people murdered by some nutter. This time the city was Christchurch New Zealand, the people who were targeted were Muslim, killed in mosques while praying last Friday (15 March). The person who murdered them will, and should, remain nameless.
Back in 2016, soon after a mass shooting in Orlando Florida, I wrote this piece, “Please don’t tell me the names of the murderers”. The gunman who murdered all those people in Orlando died at the scene. As I wrote at the time: “Let his name be forgotten”. Other mass-murderers are still alive. Let their names be forgotten too.
This morning’s news bulletins featured New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern echoing these sentiments in relation to the Christchurch gunman, a 28-year-old from Australia. Her words are worth quoting in full:
“He sought many things from his act of terror, but one was notoriety. And that is why you will never hear me mention his name. He is a terrorist. He is a criminal. He is an extremist. But he will, when I speak, be nameless. And to others I implore you: speak the names of those who were lost rather than the name of the man who took them. He may have sought notoriety but we in New Zealand will give him nothing, not even his name.”
These words were broadcast on the BBC. I heard them during the 7am news bulletin on Radio 2. Immediately afterwards the newsreader told us the name of the murderer. Why? Really, why? Take Jacinda Ardern’s advice.
Similarly, this piece in the Guardian reports her words, and includes a video clip so you can hear them for yourself, but there in paragraph 8 the murderer’s name is given. Again, why? There are many media outlets where I would expect this sort of thing (and they shall remain nameless) but I expect better of both the BBC and the Guardian. I will repeat myself: take Jacinda Ardern’s advice. “I implore you: speak the names of those who were lost rather than the name of the man who took them. He may have sought notoriety but we in New Zealand will give him nothing, not even his name.” What she said.