There are those tonight who are stoutly defending NBC and other networks for showing the video of the Virginia Tech murderer in the name of "journalism."
TV Newser quotes a correspondent: "People do not understand the journalistic obligation to do so... All of us who are serious about journalism need to defend a news organization's right and obligation to do what NBC did."
My take is that it would be sufficient to tell viewers about the tape and describe some of the contents. Airing the tape not only plays into the hands of the murderer, giving him exactly what he wanted, but it could encourage other nutcases who would like to have similar notoriety.
In related news, the level of malice the murderer displayed in advance of the shooting is disturbing. Rich Lowry writes at The Corner that only 7 of the 70 students in his poetry class showed up at one point, as most of the class had become afraid of him. A professor who decided to then work with him one on one -- because the university said there was nothing they could do without overt threats -- was concerned to such an extent that she and her assistant agreed in advance on an emergency code word to signal the need to call law enforcement.
The coming days should be a time to focus on bereaved families and friends and those who were terrorized and injured. However, in due course, as further facts become known, I think there should perhaps be a public discussion about how universities should handle students who are obviously disturbed. Universities may fear legal difficulties or lawsuits if they expel or otherwise address the problems of such students, and there may well also be an element of political correctness which could prevent university employees from addressing issues regarding someone who is "different." I suspect it would be wise for most universities to review and, if necessary, update their policies for handling such students.
Update: Hugh Hewitt asks if NBC made "the single worst editorial decision in the history of broadcast news" and calls airing the video "shameful." Hugh's editorial on this subject is right on.
The New York Times has a good article on the legal difficulties facing universities when dealing with mentally ill students.
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Saturday Update: For more on this topic, see my posts of Thursday and Friday.