Reporting a Mentally Ill Activist's Suicide by Fire Helps Nobody's Cause

This sad death helped nobody's cause, and the NYDN's reporting of it was morbid activism.

This weekend was not a slow time for news. Yet the NY Daily News found room to print a breathless piece about David Buckel's suicide by self-immolation, in which it parroted Buckel's suicide note comparing his death to Tibetan monks protesting China's occupation.

Come on. This isn't journalism.

The NYDN printed enough of Buckel's suicide notes (he left more than one--including a neatly typed version) to qualify those documents as press releases. In fact, there are questions in my mind of whether anyone in New York's media circles was tipped off to the spectacular and pointless stunt--a man taking his own life.

I won't quote the piece, or Buckel's notes. Suffice to say he made sure everyone knew why he killed himself so publicly. The NYDN called Buckel "a well-known environmental activist," and also a gay attorney who worked with the Marriage Project and Lambda Legal. Maybe he was well known to the NYDN, but I don't think anyone outside those circles would conclude this guy was a national figure. I certainly had never heard of him, but what do I know (being a provincial hick in Georgia, that is).

In any sane, objective view, Buckel's death was the result of mental illness. Nobody types up a long screed about the environment, global warming, calling his own death "honorable" and hoping it "might serve others," without facing some serious emotional and mental challenges.

Factually, Buckel did nothing to lower his own carbon footprint, and actually chose the most carbon-producing (and gruesome) way to bring attention to his cause. Add to that the fact that this man felt his own death was required in service of his beliefs, and it's apparent that he needed help (which he did not get).

What he did get was a friendly media outlet printing his suicide note, interspersed with quotes from appropriately freaked out people in the Brooklyn park where the suicide was staged.

This sad death helped nobody's cause; it swayed nobody's opinion on the urgency of dealing with global warming; and the NYDN's reporting of it was morbid activism.

So, this guy didn't even live up to the "standards" he was requesting of everyone else! How sad that a person would choose to live in a dream world and not even try to play along... A day in the life of a fool... Life is but a stage...

You could start a daily series about bad articles in the daily news. But at some point you have to ask, 'why am I writing these things'?

I think it serves a purpose to spotlight Complicit Agenda Media when they participate in advocacy. This man was evidently a hero to the people who gave him this fawning coverage, no doubt because of his membership in approved ideologies. So he got admiring press coverage.


The media needed a martyr, or something, I guess, more than anything else. I thought the piece was a product of a slow news day. It was as pitiful an article as Comey's book will turn out to be.

Not to be picky, but it no carbon was produced by this self immolation. Carbon atoms that were part of this human's tissue (carbohydrates, proteins, fats, etc.) and carbon atoms that were part of the mixture of hydrocarbons we call gasoline reacted with oxygen from the air and were transformed into carbon dioxide, and are now available for plants to use in photosynthesis. So CO2 was produced, but not carbon. The CO2 may add minisculely to the amount of solar energy adsorbed by the overall earth/atmosphere system.