MSNBC Columnist: Airing of VT Killer's Material Unfair to . . . VT Killer

Here's one ally that most people opposed to the airing of Cho's material would surely just as soon do without.

In an MSNBC column, Siva Vaidhyanathan claims that NBC News' decision to air the material was unfair to, that's right, Cho the mass murderer.

In Material from Killer Should Not Have Aired, Vaidhyanathan does note en passant that the airing "ultimately was disrespectful to the victims and their families." But the lion's share of his column is devoted to complaining that NBC was "exploitative of Cho's condition and that of all severely mentally ill people."

We will see sick attempts at humor, bigoted jokes about Korean immigrants and chilling calls to violence. And we will see a proliferation of hateful material that will be an assault on the mentally ill and their families.

All over the country, families of mentally ill people are worried that because of Cho's attacks and his frightening visage on our screens, our society will further turn against their loved ones, moving from malign neglect to outright hostility.

We already systematically fail to provide care for the mentally ill. This neglect often results in tragedy but rarely ends in violence. Already we hear calls that the mentally ill are inherently defective or, as an op-ed in The New York Times on Thursday claimed, "born evil."

So, does this video collage help or hurt the cause of confronting mental illness in this country? I am afraid the latter. Even if NBC News did not intend to do such harm, it did.

If Vaidhyanathan's argument is shocking, here's one thing that won't surprise you. He's an associate professor of Culture and Communication at New York University.

Speaking of surprises, I never thought I'd ever write these words, but here goes: hat tip to Eric Alterman at Media Matters.

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