Jarrod Ramos and the Capital Gazette Newspaper
It’s unbelievably terrible and totally unacceptable for someone to commit murder, or indeed to ‘take the law into his own hands’ through violent retribution of any kind. Our compassionate thoughts go out to the families, associates and communities of the murdered employees of the Capital Gazette in Maryland, U.S. and to those injured and terrorized by Jarrod Ramos.
But consider for a moment how a newspaper would have handled the story of a troubled female who had harassed a male through social media. In all likelihood, the newspaper would have withheld her name and place of work and would have emphasized her psychological distress and need for understanding and treatment. If the woman had complained about the news coverage we might expect the newspaper to treat the situation sensitively, perhaps offering to publish her side of the story which might be part of an article about seeking help for emotional distress or mental illness. Indeed, the theme of understanding and concern for the female harasser would have been prominent throughout the justice process and in the judge’s comments.
But in this case it was a man who harassed a woman. The Capital Gazette people saw fit to publish an article about Mr Ramos telling only the harassed woman’s story and portraying him as males are routinely portrayed in our news media. Sensational details of his harassing behaviour were provided with little restraint. When he expressed unhappiness about the article, instead of showing sensitivity or caring for a mentally unwell person it seems the newspaper stood indignantly on its claim to accuracy and right to publish as it saw fit. The article stated that a request was initially made for comment from Mr Ramos but he did not reply. Yet Mr Ramos clearly wanted to comment after the article had been published but his perspective appeared to be of little interest.
If we want men to become more respectful and caring towards others, this won’t be achieved by demonizing them and parading them as pariahs. This doesn’t imply that men or women should avoid statutory consequences for breaking the law, but there is seldom justification for news media to cause maximum further harm to offenders over and above the Court’s punishment. A bit of understanding, care and respect towards men and the difficulties they may be living with would go a long way towards fostering caring and respect from men towards society and making society safer. About as much caring and respect as is routinely shown towards women would do.
Continuing down the current road of demonizing men, of avoiding understanding and compassion towards men and of disrespecting men’s contribution and maleness itself, we can only expect more sense of alienation for men and violent reactions against society.