Friday 3 May 2019

Platforms and incentives

Politico's Jack Shafer doesn't really like the New Zealand press's agreement to avoid reporting on racist tirades that the Christchurch murderer may wish to provide.

Shafer views the ban as infantilising - as deeming readers being vulnerable and susceptible to the murderer's views and in need of protection.

I come at it from a rather different angle. I see no need to protect anybody from hearing obnoxious views. But in a world where people are willing to incur very high personal cost, and impose massive cost on others along the way, in pursuit of infamy and the dissemination of their views, committing horrible acts should not provide that reward.

The point of the ban, in that view, isn't to protect people from hearing evil. It's to protect us against evil people who would happily repeat this kind of action if it gave them their few days' fame in the witness box to promulgate their own manifestos.

Think of it as analogous to a Son of Sam law where fame and attention, rather than cash royalties, is the currency. New Zealand news outlets working together to minimise those rewards for evil acts seems appropriate.

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