As you’ve no doubt heard by now, 59 people were killed and hundreds more were injured on Sunday night when a gunman by the name of Stephen Paddock opened fire on the crowd at a country music concert in Las Vegas.
The mass shooting was the deadliest in US history, and Americans are outraged that an individual civilian was able to perpetrate such a senselessly destructive act of terrorism.
In the days since the tragedy, there’s been a great deal of discussion about what role the media should play in helping the public to process it.
Some feel Paddock’s name shouldn’t be mentioned publicly, as notoriety he receives might serve to encourage copycat gunmen.
Others feel that we should thoroughly investigate Paddock’s motives in order to carry on a more informed conversation about gun violence and mental illness in America.
What both sides can agree on is that the media should in no way glamorize Paddock’s horrific actions or create an environment that distracts from the crucial issues at the heart of this matter.
Unfortunately, in the age of the 24-hour news cycle, many outlets find it difficult not to inundate their audience with a steady barrage of new information that ends up distracting from the fact that dozens of innocent Americans have lost their lives.
Yesterday’s odd interview with Paddock’s brother (above) is one example of the worsening media circus.
And the involvement of Dan Bilzerian is undoubtedly another.
Bilzerian is a professional poker player and internet celebrity with a social media following of several million.
The 36-year-old Vegas resident was present at the concert and posted shocking video of the shooting on his Instagram page.
Bilzerian was applauded by some for documenting the madness of the scene and denigrated by others for focusing on shooting video instead of helping the wounded.
Today, Bilzerian followed the graphic footage up with yet another controversial social media post, this one featuring a photo of the bloodied corpse of Paddock, who killed himself with a gunshot wound to the head.
For obvious reasons, we’ve chosen not to share the photo here.
Bilzerian’s tweet has met with a mixed response from his followers, with some castigating the Instagram star for using shock value to draw media attention, and others praising him for publicly humiliating a monster.
“It was f–ked up he murdered people… and took so many lives. He deserves whatever embarrassment his corpse gets,” wrote one follower.
“No, actually there r these things called morals and ethics … respect the dead,’” commented another.
The post has sparked a contentious debate with hundreds arguing for each side.
Obviously, the issue of whether Bilzerian is morally justified in posting the image will never be definitively settled, but it seems undeniable that such actions distract from the vitally important conversation that we should be having as a nation this week.