December 20, 2012
The Ebbing Tide of Journalistic Integrity
A good friend of mine, intelligent and well reasoned, has also had it with today’s media, especially regarding the topic so hot in our national dialog right now, Gun Control. I am posting his well written editorial (of sorts) below in its entirety. It is good reading, and he brings up some very valid and cogent points in the discussion.
Reasoned dialog will absolutely be accepted in the comments on this post… If it degenerates into name calling I will delete the trolls responsible. This is an Adult forum! I expect it to remain such!
Without further adieu, I give you “Joe’s” editorial:
19 December, 2012
To the Media At Large:
Fair and Balanced?
In the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the Media is engendering a national trend to allow emotion to overwhelm journalistic integrity. Over the last several days many “fair and balanced” journalistic outlets such as NPR have been producing news articles that are factually inaccurate and factually incomplete. One of the tenants of true journalistic integrity is to fully research all sides of a story before releasing it. This lapse has resulted in an overwhelming bias in the reporting on the gun control debate and is clearly putting our national media into a position of no longer being a true journalistic source, but instead as a lobby for the position of gun control.
Item one: the reporting immediately following the incident was poorly sourced. Every major news outlet misreported the shooter’s name and relationship to the school. They jumped right in, following the other news outlets with lemming-like precision to produce piece after piece containing factually incorrect information. Fortunately, no one was seriously harmed by this. However, one wonders what could have happened if an innocent individual was singled out as the perpetrator before law enforcement could intervene. This, at the very least, is shameful.
Item two: No one seems to be able to find or interview a credible advocate for gun rights or assault rifle owners. The recent interview with Malcolm Brady (Dec. 17) on NPR’s “All Things Considered”, a misnomer at best, was a farce. Although Mr. Brady is something of an expert on firearms policy, it is doubtful that coming from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms that he is an objective spokesperson for the millions of private citizen gun owners in the United States, especially when it comes to assault rifles. Simply put, the reason for owning an assault rifle is for personal protection. A cursory study of human history will show that governments fail again and again to protect their citizens from disaster and internal political turmoil. The argument is often heard from those who have not considered the factual details of personal protection of life, liberty and property that there is no need for a private citizen to own a firearm for personal defense. They say there are police or the National Guard to defend us. Studying the days immediately after Katrina will show anyone that even in good times, the protection afforded by the government will break down. When the police and their families become victims of disaster, they abandon their posts just as quickly as the folks who operate shopping malls. Being prepared means that you are ready for the scenario that is improbable, and strictly mathematically speaking, which may be above most journalists, improbable means that it will definitely happen at some point. There is no region in our nation that cannot become lawless due to either man-made or natural catastrophes. Denying this or acting as if this is so unlikely as to not be considered is folly, farce, and ignorant of the simplest lessons taught by history. One of the other lessons taught by history is that societies that become reliant on the protection provided by their governments become the victims of those governments. Even a cursory examination of the events in Syria will show that an unarmed populace is ripe for victimization, and the weapon that is providing the most effective defense for that population is the assault rifle. This point wasn’t covered by Mr. Brady, the one-time soldier and apparent “expert” provided by NPR to explain the case for assault rifles. The bottom line is that in a ground based, person on person encounter, the assault rifle is the status-quo for tactical defensive engagements. Mr. Brady’s experience in the military must have skipped this basic point. In most American communities, the good guys outnumber the bad guys one hundred to one, but one bad guy with an assault rifle can easily overwhelm one hundred good guys armed with rhetoric, faith in their government and good intentions. The continuing experiment that is America relies on the ability and right of the people to provide the majority of services to themselves. Outside of providing protection beyond our borders which has been delegated, and rightly so to the military, the government should not be in a position to disarm the American populace. This is the essence of the second amendment to the constitution. This is the essence of being an American, and is why the right to own firearms that guarantee that we will be able to, in times of disaster or injustice, to protect ourselves, our families, our property and our communities must be maintained. As a free citizen of America, it is more than our right to be able to defend ourselves, it is our responsibility. The media needs to do a much better job of identifying spokespersons. In the case of Mr. Brady, it would be obvious to anyone on the side of firearm advocacy that he would not be an appropriate representative.
Item three: the incidence of mass shooting is not increasing. Again with the bad math. Reporter after reporter has made the statement or insinuated that the incidence of mass shootings is increasing. In fact, we have been experiencing a lull. This occurs in statistics and is seen in many bodies of data where events occur sporadically. There are groupings of events and they occur at an average or standard rate. Since we are currently experiencing a grouping, this would appear over the last 2-3 years to be an increase in the overall rate of these incidences. Considered over a period of time going back say 30 years, it is likely from a mathematical standpoint that the rate of these incidences is not going up. The emotion involved makes us say that this seems to be an increase, but this is where that journalistic integrity thing comes in. Do a better job. Take a statistics class.
Item four: hunting is not the only credible reason for owning a firearm. A recently broadcast editorial by Frank Deford was consistent with the apparent overall stance by journalists that the only reasonable case that anyone would own a firearm is to hunt with it. Target shooting with what are sensationally referred to as “high power rifles” is one example of another use. (There is no standard for this, by the way. Any rifle could be considered to be “high power”, or low power depending on how it is compared.) Also, many firearm sporting enthusiasts shoot at targets using semi-automatic firearms. These are never intended to be used for hunting or self-defense. Many organizations offer college scholarships for students who are marksmen, and the firearms they operate are clearly designed and intended to be used for target shooting of one type or another. Mr. Deford’s columns are opinion pieces for sure, but as NPR’s resident sporting expert, he could have done a little more research.
News reporting requires more than just reporting on what is easy to find, it requires burrowing down to find all sides of a story. Preventing emotion from interfering with this process is one reason why I have been, even as a staunchly conservative individual, a supporter of NPR’s program. This year, based on this apparent lapse of journalistic integrity, I will be contributing the money I normally give to NPR elsewhere, most likely to the NRA. We have now become an embattled organization, not mainly due to the recent tragedy, but more due to the continuing loss of journalistic integrity by news organizations that used to provide facts and unbiased reporting while taking into account all perspectives that utilized view points from actual subject matter experts. Reporting on the emotion behind this tragedy is certainly news worthy, using it to grind an axe is not.
Very Truly Yours,
December 16, 2012
We’re from the Government, and we’re here to help!
Action is afoot in the Legislative Branch of the Federal Government that is dangerous in its nature…
Several Democratic lawmakers called for a new push for U.S. gun restrictions on Sunday, including a ban on military-style assault weapons, in the wake of the Connecticut massacre in which 20 children and six adults were gunned down in a school.
Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, the author of an assault-weapons ban that lapsed in 2004, said she would introduce new legislation this week. Senator Dick Durbin, the chamber's No. 2 Democrat, said lawmakers would hold hearings on gun control, and several others said they would devote new attention to the long-ignored issue.
"I think we could be at a tipping point ... where we might get something done," Senator Charles Schumer, another top Senate Democrat…
Never let a Crisis go to waste huh?
[Senator Diane] Feinstein said her planned legislation would outlaw the high-capacity magazines and military-style assault rifles that have factored in many recent mass shootings, including Friday's massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. People who own such weapons now would not be required to give them up, Feinstein said.
Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes...
No... I am not going to sit idly by on this one. I simply would like to voice a request for restraint and caution in turning an extremely vile event into a catalysis for whatever agenda you find association with.
For you who want desperately for the 100% disarming of Americans... I have little use for you and even less to say to you (it is not like you would listen anyway) you will always live in that desire with the hopelessly smug attitude that you are always right when tragic events include the unlawful, and disturbed use of a firearm. Yet amazingly absent in your philosophical disposition is any instance where a life was traded for the better good. (Meaning a perpetrator of evil and ill-will was summarily dispatched (by a person wielding a firearm) before more chaos could ensue) You seldom acknowledge that Good or Bad lies in the intent of the person wielding the weapon, not in the weapon itself.
Using incidents like Newton killings for politically self riotous agenda building is easily the most repugnant act of opportunistic political ambulance chasers ever perpetrated!
Where should we be focused? How about repealing the 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution? Because, this so called "Free Press" we have? Is obviously a threat to our lives, as free thinking, free associating, used to be intelligent beings! I am sick of being "sensationalized" to death! Our media relentlessly bombards us with sanctimonious platitudes, not to better educate us of the facts of a matter, but rather in a continuous attempt to indoctrinate us on HOW we should think or "Feel" about a subject". Everything is Right or Left now... No longer is anything Right or Wrong. So what's the next logical step? Well obviously these fools can't be trusted with as pervasive a Right as free speech! Nor can we, for we are offending too many people!
Seriously, sounds like I've gone like a loon into the abyss? Really...? Is it because I brought up the untouchable third rail of Freedom of Speech? and that ONE Amendment is oh so much more protected than any of the others of the US Constitution?
Exactly my point... no one of any intellect would dare suggest that the First Amendment in the United States Bill of Rights should be repealed. No matter how offensive speech is, it is to be protected! Question for you, why would "inoffensive speech" ever need such protection?
But yet the Second Amendment, the Right (THAT'S a "RIGHT" not a conditional permission!) of the People of the United States to bear arms, is allowed to be ignored or dismissed, or manupulated simply because in the Neon Bulb of sensationalistic opportunism declares it offensive?
That is a slippery slope folks, please be careful where we tread! These Rights are there for a reason, and must be protected.
Am I a gun nut? No, I don't think so... I am however a concerned American, and I am... A Constitution Nut! Anytime the Government proposes to do something for our greater good we need to be weary... Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes... Still holds true today, but fortunately we are all educated by the Media and would have no earthly clue what that means... now would we?