Let’s play “What’s Wrong with This Headline?”
OK, kids–here’s today’s challenge: “Couple, their 3 kids found dead in Maryland home.”
Who or what might have killed an entire family? Was it carbon monoxide? Botulism? World War II ordinance discovered in the sandbox too late? (I’m humming the Jeopardy theme while you click and read.)
If I were the grandparent who discovered my daughter and grandchildren murdered by my son-in-law, I sure as heck wouldn’t like the news dubbing the murderer and my daughter a “couple,” and the senseless slaughter of my grandchildren as being “found dead” instead of “murdered by their father.”
This is yet another sickening example of the news media doing the work of our culture in erasing or obscuring the deadly combination of modal American masculinity and gun violence! But shhhhhh! We can’t talk about that–it’s against the Bill of Rights! The Second Amendment trumps the First Amendment every time. We can’t write the headline like this: “Man Murders Wife, his 3 Children with Firearm.” Guns don’t kill people–men kill people, especially the people they’re most closely related to, and they just so happen to choose guns because of their extraordinary efficiency when used in murderous rampages.
Where are the articles about this disturbing epidemic of violent husbands and unnatural fathers? (Just imagine if one or two women in this country every week gunned down their husbands and children. Just imagine the headlines, the non-stop media coverage, and the endless analysis if it happened even once!) Why isn’t this considered a national public health emergency? Where are the ad campaigns encouraging people not to keep guns in their homes, and urging men to seek counseling if they take their anger out on their family members? (Hey–it’s worked so far with drunk driving and smoking–maybe not so much with the anti-drug campaigns.) Where is the leadership by men in our communities to model masculinities based on respect and care for othes rather than the control of other people? I wonder if we are naturalizing this extreme form of male violence because it’s one of the few achievements that women have shown little interest in as of yet–unlike education, politics, medicine, the law, and so on.
Coverture isn’t dead, and some men are willing to kill to prove it. Headlines like the one above are complicit in letting murderers off the hook and the further erasure of the women and children victims. I guess it’s not just the killers who don’t think women and children are worth the trouble–it’s all of us.