September 4, 2007

Of heroes, villians, and 'incessant media scrutiny.'

Remember the guy who knifed a CU student in the neck last week? He was institutionalized, not sent to jail, because . . . news flash . . . he was crazy. In fact he had tried a similar act in 2001 and been institutionalized for it, but was apparently bounced into society too soon with too little supervision, presumably because Colorado's mental health programs can't afford to do more.

The victim's family issued this press release today:

One week ago, our son, Michael Knorps, was thrust headlong into the media spotlight because he was the victim of an assault on the campus of the University of Colorado at Boulder. This inexplicable act of violence has, since that time, brought our close family even closer together, tested Michael's youthful character in ways he and we never imagined, and presented us with a traumatic moment in the life of our family.

[Thanks for] the outpouring of support [ . . . ]

But the time has arrived for Michael to take his rightful place in his class, within the larger student body of CU-Boulder, without the burden on himself, his classmates and indeed, the larger university, of accommodating public curiosity and incessant media scrutiny. With this in mind, we are making an urgent, personal appeal to the local and national media to let Michael do this without it becoming a story. More directly, we are asking you not to personally contact our son, or members of our family who live here in Boulder, hoping to get pictures, interviews and "the inside story" of what happened to Michael.

In truth, there is no "inside story." Michael was the victim of a violent crime that injured him and traumatized his family. There is no greater drama here, no deeper story, no larger meaning. The "news" - and it is not news to people who know Michael personally - is that this remarkable young man has recovered from this attack physically and will, with the support of his family and friends, recover emotionally and spiritually over time. But that is a private, not a public, process.

We make this appeal both as parents and as people of goodwill. We know the media have a job to do, and we are willing to accommodate your questions (on a limited basis) through the following e-mail address: We ask that all questions be submitted by September 7, 2007 and we will try to respond by September 10, 2007. We will not respond to any questions related to the legal or criminal aspects of this incident. In the meantime, we ask again that Michael be permitted to have, starting this week, the experience he was denied last week: being just another college student, ready to start a new chapter of his life. We believe he has earned that right. We ask you to respect it.

Thank you.

The George Knorps family, on behalf of Michael Knorps.
Hear, hear.* Points very well taken. Humanity's unbridled lust for blood stories is revealed by the wild success sensational media outlets enjoy.

This press release was carefully crafted by someone with a sophisticated understanding of how infotainment media works. Probably not the Knorps family. Ostensibly this document is intended merely to shift unwarranted attention away from one who was a victim of a mundane "crime" brought about by another's illness. But on reading it one can scarcely avoid the writer's deep and abiding criticisms of the news media. This document says "please don't trample on our right to privacy and then profit by the suffering of an innocent family." A prejudicial request and one that a sane media would rightly be insulted by. But I predict the media won't be insulted. Why? Because taking insult isn't profitable, and as the media well knows: 'truth is a complete defense.'

Here's what I want to know: where is the press release from the attacker's family? There is none, perhaps because "we," the viewing public, don't want to know about him even though evidence suggests we should: we love horror flicks and novels involving slashers and mentally unbalanced people. Do we like our villains to be fictional, and our heroes to be real?

* - Or is it "here here?" "Hear, here?"

1 comment:

yvonne said...

Hear, hear, Flashlight! Well-analyzed, well said.