Freelance journalist, Alice Clarke, reflected on Thursday, 28 April, 2016 (For those who don’t know, it marked 20 years since a lone gunman rampaged through the historical site of Port Arthur, Tasmanis, which left 35 people dead and 23 wounded. (‘Need to Forget Names of Evil’ HS, 2 May, 2016). Of the 35 killed were two young sisters, Alannah Louise and Madeline Grace Mikac, who were only 6 and 3 when they were gunned down along with their mother while they were trying to escape.
The article raised the dilemma I’m sure most journalists face – should the perpetrator/s of such horrific crimes be named?
For this post, I want to say that I do know the perpetrator’s name, but I’ll refrain from using the name while I write this post.
Why do we know names of perpetrators of horrific crimes etch in people’s minds, yet, in most cases, the victims’ names largely forget the names of the victims.
Personally, I can tell you the names of:
- The Belangalo State Forest Killer
- The Hobble Street Killer
Can I name any of the victims? Not without Google. Yet I can tell you the killers – I won’t. But isn’t that weird?
Last year, there was a mini series about the killer – not the victims – of the Belangalo State Forest murders. Prime current affairs show, ‘Sunday Night’ did a two episode special when the older brother of the killer and a man who’s brother was jailed for a crime that the Belangalo State Forest Killer did. A dramatised mini – series followed – again – focused on the killer, not victims.
Why? Why the fascination of these monsters who permanently destroy people’s lives and not the victims? Why are the names of the perpetrators so easy to remember and not the victims?
The media should do more to make sure people remember the victims of atrocities. And let’s not give sick killers tge notoriety they often crave. They don’t deserve it. But the victims do deserve to be remembered. Their families deserve that too.