No Such Thing as Bad Publicity?

From the AP story on the NIU killer:

Jason Dunavan, a tattoo artist in Champaign, said he spent hours as recently as last month creating tattoos for [the killer]. His work included an image of the macabre doll from the horror movie "Saw" riding a tricycle through a pool of blood with images of several bleeding cuts in the background.

Dunavan said he was so proud of the tattoo that he enlarged a photo of it and placed it on a wall in his shop — a move he is now rethinking.

"I don't know if I still want that picture on my wall," said Dunavan, who also described [the killer] as timid and apologetic.

Rethinking? Don't know? What would it take to associate Mr. Dunavan's handiwork sufficiently with evil for him to conclude for sure that this is bad publicity?

Note that the media coverage of this tragedy---including the detailed picture of the killer and extensive use of his name and likeness---is nearly certain to contribute to copycatting. Indeed, this killing is itself quite possibly a copycat event. And no, I'm not calling for censorship, just a bit of self-restraint. The press has shown itself capable of voluntarily not releasing exit polls until polls close, so self-restraint is possible.

Posted by Mike Dorf