Thursday, October 24, 2013

Which Families Deserve Respect? One Thought on the Recent Killings of Teachers by Young Men

“Student Kills Math Teacher, Then Himself, at a Middle School in Nevada.”

“The boy, whose name and age have not been released, wounded two students during the attack.”

Two days later…

14-year-old Philip Chism  was arraigned as an adult for the alleged murder of a math teacher. 

Both cases are troubling and beg the question of what is causing boys, young men, and men to behave in such a way? How might the ideology of masculinity have shaped their behaviors is something we as a society should interrogate. Instead, we are more likely to have a conversation on gun availability (the Chism murder does not seem to involve a gun and only targeted one individual) and mental health. I completely agree that these are important conversations for us to all have. However, I think that the conversation remains incomplete when we fail to consider how the social construction of masculinity might contribute to these incidences.

However, this is not why I pen this post. My concern rests with how the media decides to share information about who is involved in such murders. 

Since this alleged murder I’ve learn about Chism's parents and about his life.

Meanwhile there is little information shared about the young man who murdered the teacher in Nevada and then committed suicide. We know nothing of the first young man except that he was in middle school.

How do we begin to theorize the media's differential treatment of these two young men (a term I use rather loosely as I see them as boys)? Why is it that so little information is provided on the first young man?

According to the New York Times, “The authorities say they are withholding the student’s name out of respect for his family.” Is Chism’s family not deserving of respect?  

How do we determine which families are deserving of respect? Who gets to make such determinations?

I don’t have the answers, but I do have to wonder: Might race play a factor? How might the social construction of race and violence influence the media's differential treatment of these young men? 

This is the eleventh post of my 31-day blogging challenge. You can tweet me at Dr_JZ using hash tag #31dbc to share your thoughts and share your stories. 

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