Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Quiet, At Last (May Trigger)

An item in the Bangor Daily News has the following headline:

Police affidavit: Brooks man shot wife over nagging

The first paragraph reads:

The Brooks man accused of shooting his wife to death Friday told a friend he did it because she had been nagging him over a truck muffler, according to a police affidavit released Monday at Waldo County District Court.

Michael Littlefield then laid down on the floor next to Deborah Littlefield's body, while he contemplated shooting himself.

Dear me. If she hadn't nagged so much she'd still be alive! Let that be a lesson to you all naggers out there.

It's subtler than that, but not by much. There's the focus on the thoughts of the murderer, an attempt to explain, perhaps even to justify the crime. I'm trying to apply this approach to other crimes: A man raped and killed a child because she or he excited him sexually? A thief broke into a house because he or she wanted a new Ipad?

This approach is sometimes taken in other killings, but hardly ever in the initial coverage. The motives for a killing are usually hashed out later as the story develops. But the exception to this rule is in cases of the kind discussed here: domestic murders, most committed by men who kill their partner and often also the children. Then the coverage begins with attempts to explain why he did it.

This is problematic, because it turns into victim-blaming.