Shooting Holes In The First Amendment

Wilkinson asks why we don’t investigate alternatives to gun control:

Perhaps the best way to prevent mass shootings is censorship. For example, it could be made illegal to publish any information at all about mass shooters. No names. No pictures. No probing stories about their fraught home lives. Nothing. Maybe it wouldn’t work, and mass killers would nevertheless go on to achieve through their evil work the glory of infamy. Then again, maybe it would work. Shouldn’t we be willing to at least consider a small abridgement of the first amendment, if doing so would save even one child from a horrific death?

The fact is, most of us would rather lose an abstract kid or two than resort to this sort of censorship. We don’t like to admit that, so we tend to deny that it would work. But nobody actually knows it wouldn’t work.

Adam Gopnik is open to the censorship of violence:

The reason we don’t want our kids—or our teen-agers, or ourselves for that matter—lost in violent imagery, whatever the beauty of the pixelated townscape, is not because of something that they will cause but because of what they are right now. It’s not what they might do it’s who they are in the act of becoming. Fictive or not, violent images increase the sum total of violence in the world. If we believe that we, as Edmund Burke said, should hate violence and love liberty, then we can’t hate violence and still make it part of our idea of pleasure.

There is a third way, of course: for those involved in entertainment and journalism to self-censor, to understand that less is more, and to focus more on the victims of violence rather than the perpetrators of it. But in a free country, that only works if it marks a cultural shift from below, not paternalism from above. Not watching gratuitous, numbing violence is something we need no law to enforce. We can start today.