I will remember a man who was kind and witty and not the crass headlines
Opinion: The sordid and detailed reports added greatly to the suffering of Tom O’Gorman’s friends
A photograph of Tom O’Gorman, who was found dead at his home in Castleknock, is displayed at a prayer vigil held for him at St Teresa’s, Clarendon St, Dublin. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA
Tom O’Gorman has 1,052 Facebook friends. He is the only person I know who could probably credibly claim that he knows them all personally. And he probably has several hundred more friends aside from that.
I wrote that in the present tense, didn’t I? Because I can’t get my head around the fact that Tom will slowly start slipping into the past, as the rest of us voyage on in time.
No more mimicry, no more intellectual arguments, no more blog posts, no more turning into mush every time a small child hoves into view.
People have posted lots of pictures of Tom on social media in recent days, but my favourite is one where he is sitting on a seat where a one-year-old boy is standing.
Tom is wearing a Barcelona T-shirt, and he and the little lad, Tadhg O’Broin, are gazing at each other, contented members of a small mutual admiration society. Tadhg’s arm is resting on Tom’s shoulder. They both look very happy.
I wish that image were the one that everyone had of Tom, that he had not been depersonalised as the “chess game murder victim”. I wish that some of our media had shown a modicum of restraint in the headlines that they plastered across their front pages.
Headlines that went into crass and absolutely unnecessary detail about the violent death suffered by a gentle man, and with what excuse? What public interest was served?
The gratuitously graphic headlines, and sordid, detailed reports added enormously to the sufferings of his family and friends.
The way in which murder is reported has become coarsened, often more focused on satisfying the worst kind of morbid curiosity, rather than on remembering that each victim is a human being with friends and family.
The relief I felt when this paper and RTÉ decided not to do the same was immense.
Tom had his life taken from him in the most violent way possible. At least some news organisations understood that it would be a further violation to also take his dignity.
I was not in Tom’s closest circle of friends by any means, and even I tottered around in a haze after hearing the news, an uncomprehending, dazed haze. I cannot imagine what those closer to him were feeling.
He was a wickedly witty, sometimes awkward, always kind man, who had enormous knowledge in a dizzying array of areas, from music to sport, from film to politics, from current affairs to history.
He could talk for Ireland, and social media were just another irresistible playground to indulge his eclectic interests and his love of chat and craic. It is impossible to comprehend that he is gone.