Sean Paul Hanify describes killing as an art form.
“When I am hurting somebody, I want to see them. I want to crash their skull.”
Hanify is in jail after he crashed a car and police are now looking into five murders he could have committed.
Joe Bullard wrote a column for the Sunday Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News calling this story “a National Enquirer story; it did not belong in the Rocky Mountain News.”
Brian D. Crecente wrote the story for the News and I thought the writing was great. His lead started great and captured my attention very well, “He speaks of death and killing through pale, chapped lips. Watches for a reaction through pale blue eyes. …”
As newswriters, we are taught to get detail because it is more intriguing for readers and it simply tells a better story. In this story, the details should have been left out.
The story takes us through the mind of this guy who says killing is his art form and what tools he likes to use. One example was the use of a hammer, but unlike the News’ story, I will spare you the details. As Bullard said, this story was more like something from a tabloid and focused too much on the gory details.
This story should have focused more on the loss of life and the loss the families felt. Families were never mentioned, or quoted throughout the story and the story almost seemed to glorify this man as a sort of hero. Furthermore, the story should have put a face on the victims. The victims in the Hanify story had less of a face than the random drug dealers Arnold Schwarzeneggar kills in any one of his body-count movies. Body-count movies are just that: movies with no plot and an overall goal to keep you entertained with a massive amount of blood and guts.
This story made me think and I wanted to take this opportunity to reevaluate what we, as a society, value. Yeah, maybe the News shouldn’t have run the story, or maybe they should have written it in the ways I mentioned above, but there is a reason they didn’t: newspaper sales.
We, as humans, are extremely infatuated with violence and those who get away with the most vicious of crimes. Don’t believe me? Well, who isn’t a Hannibal fan? Who doesn’t have a favorite action hero movie star? Who hasn’t played guns as a little kid?
The story ran because we want it. We seem to crave violence more than fast food and alcohol.
Why do I bring this up? Well, I think most people deny their human lust for blood and gore. Denying that essential part of our soul blinds to the actual causes for the violence that we define as bad.
Who was blamed after Columbine, one of my favorite performers, Marilyn Manson? Why? Because we are all blind to what causes violence because we are too busy blaming others and denying our own love for violence.
Bullard is exactly right, the story had no place in the News, but it, unfortunately, does in our lives. I guarantee you are more interested in the Hanify story than a human-interest story about a teacher – someone who helps build lives, not destroys them.
Don’t believe me? My lead at the beginning hooked you.
I always welcome your comments. I would love any of your thoughts about what you think of violence. Why is society so violent? I know there are a lot of sociology/psychology/philosophy students who would love to tee off on this subject. And I know there are many of you from all subject interest areas who might want to add to this argument.