CONTROVERSIAL TAKE: It’s Bad To Put Words In The Mouths Of Murder Victims.

So the fact of the matter is we don’t know why Anderson Lee Aldrich shot up Club Q. But to [NBC’s] Ben Collins, that doesn’t matter. What matters is immediately to tie the shooting to a broader narrative. This, it goes without saying, is utterly bankrupt journalism. It could certainly be that Aldrich shot up the club out of antigay or anti-trans animus fueled by (say) LibsOfTikTok’s endless spotlighting of the most off-putting left-wing LGBT people on social media. But until you know that, you can’t assume. This is something you learn in the first week or two of any intro to journalism class. What Collins has done here is really wrong. He has spread a huge amount of… well, not even misinformation, because we don’t know yet! This is basically the journalistic equivalent of being not even wrong.

But the worst part of Collins’ monologue, by far — the part that tipped me over from exasperation at Collins and into genuine queasiness, like This dude is doing something really gross — came when he followed up his question about what reporters can do better with this: “Because there are five dead people in a strip mall, because that was the only place they felt safe as gay or trans people, in this town, in Colorado Springs.”

Let’s name those victims: Raymond Green Vance, Kelly Loving, Daniel Aston, Derrick Rump, and Ashley Paugh. They are actual, real-life, flesh and blood human beings who were alive until Saturday night. Since they cannot speak for themselves, they deserve to have their lives and their experiences represented accurately by the journalists discussing and reporting on them. Ben Collins is putting words into their mouths and thoughts into their heads. He is, in effect, speaking over recent murder victims solely to make a political point and to inflate the importance of his own particular beat. That’s the only way to describe this.

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