Morgan Freeman statement about the Sandy Hook Newtown shootings is an internet hoax
A statement about the media’s responsibility for the Newtown, Connecticut shootings last week, widely attributed to actor Morgan Freeman, has turned out to be an Internet hoax.
The text went viral on social media sites like Facebook and Tumblr as America tried to make sense of the horrific events in Sandy Hill. And the words that people believed to be from Freeman, seemed to make some kind of sense in the wake of the media storm that followed the shootings.
However, according to Mr. Freeman’s representatives, he has made no statement on the tragedy. His representative told On The Red Carpet:
He did not write nor release this statement. To date he has not released any statement [about the shooting].
If this comment thread on Reddit – where the story also went viral – is to be believed, the idea to attribute the quote to Morgan Freeman came from a couple of Reddit users who “thought it would be funny” to say the comments came from the actor. Clearly their sense of humor might need some fine tuning.
The full text of the statement that’s been circulating reads:
You want to know why. This may sound cynical, but here’s why.
It’s because of the way the media reports it. Flip on the news and watch how we treat the Batman theater shooter and the Oregon mall shooter like celebrities. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris are household names, but do you know the name of a single victim of Columbine? Disturbed
people who would otherwise just off themselves in their basements see the news and want to top it by doing something worse, and going out in a memorable way. Why a grade school? Why children? Because he’ll be remembered as a horrible monster, instead of a sad nobody.
CNN’s article says that if the body count “holds up”, this will rank as the second deadliest shooting behind Virginia Tech, as if statistics somehow make one shooting worse than another. Then they post a video interview of third-graders for all the details of what they saw and heard while the shootings were happening. Fox News has plastered the killer’s face on all their reports for hours. Any articles or news stories yet that focus on the victims and ignore the killer’s identity? None that I’ve seen yet. Because they don’t sell. So congratulations, sensationalist media, you’ve just lit the fire for someone to top this and knock off a day care center or a maternity ward next.
You can help by forgetting you ever read this man’s name, and remembering the name of at least one victim. You can help by donating to mental health research instead of pointing to gun control as the problem. You can help by turning off the news.
From our point of view, what’s interesting about this turn of events is that the sentiment in this article seemed to have resonance when a respected actor like Morgan Freeman is imagined to have been the source. Is the statement any less sensible or insightful now that it’s from someone else? I don’t think so. It’s certainly worth pausing to consider whether the media’s saturation coverage of the shootings has turned into “tragedy porn” that might inspire other deranged, sick individuals to go out and do the same thing.
What do you say?