After yet another horrific shooting in which yet another troubled creep grabs an all-too-available gun (Thanks, NRA!) and kills a bunch of innocents, I'd like to ask everyone to stop calling these jerks "killers" and "shooters," which sounds macho and cool, like they're participants in some kick-ass video game, and start calling them what they really are, which is "schmucks."
"Schmuck" is a fine Yiddish word which means "contemptible person." That's more to the point, isn't it? You could also use "putz," which means "idiot." Or go with the all-American "jerk." Just stop describing these misfits as "gunmen" and "assassins," which makes them sound tough and cool. In fact, stop describing them at all. There's something just plain wrong about the fact that we all know who Mark David Chapman is. After Lennon was gunned down, the newscasters should have led with, "A jerk just killed John Lennon. We're not telling you anything else about him because he wants to be famous and we're not gonna help him out." End of story.
Instead, some twisted creep sees the orgy of coverage devoted to the latest jerk with a firearm and thinks "that could be me, on every television screen and front page in America!" And the next thing we know, it is.
Could we all agree to stop publicizing these clowns? If the stories didn't scream "Shooter kills!" but instead said "Another sad putz tried to compensate for his pathetic life by killing people, and out of respect for the victims we refuse to publish his photo or devote a word of coverage to him, his Facebook page, his childhood, his twisted tweets, how his mother feels and what his neighbors think," maybe these nutjobs would pull back and do what the rest of us who are hungry for fame do, which is write online op-eds or go out for community theatre. (I'm sure there's a production of Oklahoma somewhere that needs a good Jud.) From now on, let's call a schmuck a schmuck. It's just God's honest truth. And maybe we'll save a few lives.
(Roz Warren is the author of OUR BODIES, OUR SHELVES: LIBRARY HUMOR.)