15 December 2012

Media coverage of mass killings

Commentary from Roger Ebert:
Let me tell you a story. The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory and was seeking sound bites to support it. "Wouldn't you say," she asked, "that killings like this are influenced by violent movies?" No, I said, I wouldn't say that. "But what about 'Basketball Diaries'?" she asked. "Doesn't that have a scene of a boy walking into a school with a machine gun?" The obscure 1995 Leonardo Di Caprio movie did indeed have a brief fantasy scene of that nature, I said, but the movie failed at the box office (it grossed only $2.5 million), and it's unlikely the Columbine killers saw it.

The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory. "Events like this," I said, "if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn't have messed with me. I'll go out in a blaze of glory."

In short, I said, events like Columbine are influenced far less by violent movies than by CNN, the NBC Nightly News and all the other news media, who glorify the killers in the guise of "explaining" them. I commended the policy at the Sun-Times, where our editor said the paper would no longer feature school killings on Page 1. The reporter thanked me and turned off the camera. Of course the interview was never used. They found plenty of talking heads to condemn violent movies, and everybody was happy. 
Via Kottke and Boing Boing.

59 comments:

  1. Maybe more breaking news about people being decent and helping each other would serve us much better then around the clock coverage of the flavor of the day does.

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    1. We seem to be more interested when such acts by our better angels shine more brightly in contrast to the acts by our lesser angels. --A.

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  2. Bingo.

    Another of my favorite blogs said this as well: Atomic Nerd called our country's response to mass shootings "formulaic," (I agree) and in the comments to that post, Stringray said much the same thing as Mr. Ebert said.

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  3. Nicely said. I'm convinced that this is a much bigger factor than gun control.

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  4. Amen. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8rMYyegT5Y

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  5. Also interesting how media has already begun spinning the shooter's profile with terms such as "nerd" and "mentally unbalanced," thus relieving some of the pressure off the absolutely insane gun culture that makes it so easy to obtain practically any firearm of choice in present day America. Most nerds, and even most "mentally unbalanced" individuals do not go out and slaughter dozens of innocent women and children. Guns apparently meant to safeguard hearth and home (the #1 reason gun proponents cite for their necessity) made this record slaughter possible.

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    1. Stan B, we do have gun laws in the U.S. and many laws that prohibit a wide variety of arms.
      I grew up wiith guns, atteneded many "shoots" and other gun enthusiast gatherings and people didn't assault each other or expose each other to random violence people were sane and respectful. I also know police officers who have never discharged their weapon while on duty and have never been fired on. The real world and tthat portrayed by the media in news and ficiton are far apart.

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    2. Stan B, when the weight of commentary issued by Americans at large is looked at carefully, unemotionally, you would see that a nearly neat half of Americans are irrationally afraid of guns, blindly reject them, think they are totally wrong for anyone to have, ever. The other half may not understand guns, were not raised to handle them correctly, but they know they are essential to protecting our freedoms, personal and national. If we really care about saving lives, we would outlaw what is not a right for anyone, Constitutional or otherwise: cars. We kill a lot of more of each other with our vehicles than with guns, easily. But because WE want our cars and we love our cars and insist we must have them for whatever we want to have them for, we will tolerate all the deaths we inflict on ourselves with them. That's ok, just as long as they don't all happen at once, we can tolerate it.

      We do not have a gun culture. We have a car culture.

      There's no getting around it: a woman, able elderly or able disabled armed with a gun can successfully defeat an unarmed male intruder, saving his/her own life, without being strong or agile or even expert. Without a gun, s/he will likely be who dies. You don't hear about it because the media refuses to publicize all the successful, proper uses of a firearm, because oh dang, that doesn't fit their narrative. Far, far more gun owners never commit crimes with them, it of course doesn't even occur to them to commit a crime just because they have a gun. Quite the contrary, they relax in the knowledge that they have a fighting change--a fighting chance--to meet an armed assailant with matching firepower in order to stop exactly this sort of atrocity should it happen in front of them. Trusting a good government to never go bad is a dangerously naive and misplaced trust.

      Unless and until anti-gun zealots can make well-reasoned, convincing counter-arguments, and I mean counter-arguments that they can defend calmly round after round, without just throwing up their hands in contempt or hurling insults, common sense is common sense and I remain firmly on pro-2nd Amendment ground. It is a fundamental and existential right, long before being Constitutional. --A.

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  6. JD- You sound like a perfectly reasonable, rational man- and thank you, for responding as such. And I am sure there are many more like you who are responsible gun owners.

    Unfortunately, there are way too many loopholes in those laws- especially when it comes to gun shows where no background checks (or, needless to say, waiting periods) are required, and anyone is pretty much free to buy whatever they want and however much they want- not to mention those who'll hook ya up with the kit to convert to fully automatic for a few bucks under the table. And just how many civilians (other than former gang members expecting reprisals or gun nuts living there own Red Dawn fantasy), or hunters really need assault weapons or their every bit as lethal 'civilianized' counterparts? And do we really need gun laws that allow firearms in bars?

    Unfortunately, not only do we have mentally unbalanced individuals with easy access to high power weaponry, we also now have delusional gun nuts who think that they will be the ones with the power, cunning and skill set to take them out. And they will hold on to their childlike fantasies until they pry their weapons from their cold, dead hands.

    Unfortunately, facts and history clearly show that the real world, and that portrayed in their masturbatory fantasies are far, far apart:

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/09/mass-shootings-investigation

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    1. It is exactly this style of confrontation that gets any meaningful exchange of ideas nowhere between disagreeing parties. Openly disparaging those who just do not see it your way does not slim the gap between us, it widens it. So long as you hold decent, considerate, circumspect fellow humans in such naked contempt, we have no reason to consider you rational, reasonable, or even lucid, either. So why bother with you at all. --A.

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    2. Stan B is right. This murderer's mother did not need so many semi-automatic assault weapons in her home. She didn't have it just for home protection or she wouldn't be bragging about her guns at the local bar, as I read. She got a thrill from it. Private citizens to not need to have assault weapons for hunting or home protection. We need to close the gun show loophole and limit the magazine loads. We have a sick gun culture when video games for children involve killing as many people as possible and we can't make a successful TV show or movie unless people are getting blown away.

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    3. Anon at 11:18 AM,

      This might be TL;DR, esp. as a 2 parter, for you and others, but I'll put it out here for those who will read it all.

      Part 1:

      "This murderer's mother did not need so many semi-automatic assault weapons in her home."

      Are you blaming the victim? So it's her fault? What you need and what I need are, for the most part, our business, as it should be. People, no matter what their politics, never want to be regulated by the opposite side, especially if it is in power. I think we should restrict who uses the 1st Amendment, especially by the under-age on the internet. You ok with that? Because young people on the internet, with impunity, will say some of the most vile, callous, cruel, soul-breaking words to another tender aged child and think nothing of it, or worse, laugh, or even worse, openly encourage someone fragile into killing someone, themselves especially. Then that tender hearted child, who acts all tough and badass on the outside, feels secretly crushed, worthless, alone. Then they do kill themselves and/or others. Sometimes they even broadcast it on the web for their tormentors' convenience.

      The person who took far more of what he had no business taking was Adam Lanza, her mentally ill son who snapped, and took 26 lives. As long as we keep shrugging off dealing with mental illness, this will keep happening. Even if we outlawed guns entirely by executive order today, do you really think what's out there now would evaporate just to be in compliance? No, it would be a boon for the black marketeers. Now homes will be broken into just to see if any guns are around and those will be stolen more than cars.

      "She didn't have it just for home protection or she wouldn't be bragging about her guns at the local bar, as I read. She got a thrill from it. Private citizens to not need to have assault weapons for hunting or home protection." Who cares if she got a thrill from them. I get a thrill from weed, does that bother you? Limiting what the manufacturer can produce, or its price, is soft serve socialism. While I don't fear that as much as wingnut capitalists do, if I thought that would in fact work, I'd be for it too. But I don't.

      Just for fun, let's toy with the idea that the American government does go really bad without correction by us. Let's say our military no longer honors posse commitatus. Our military is very, very potently armed. If we do not allow citizens to own the same calibre of weapon, say we own just traditional rifles, what do you think our chances would be? The longer we refuse to think our government can lose its mind, the easier we make it for our government to insidiously disarm us until it's too late. You might be a Bloomberg fan based on the gun show complaint. Didn't NY just have an assassin GUN down someone on it's street this week? But I thought concealed guns are against the law in NY. Yeah, see, if you want something, you're not going to allow some pesky laws stop you. Which is exactly what happens every day, everywhere. .................... --A.

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    4. Part 2:

      "We have a sick gun culture when video games for children involve killing as many people as possible and we can't make a successful TV show or movie unless people are getting blown away."

      Well, talk to the teen boys who buy those video games by the thousands and thousands. Make them stop liking them. Make them. And Hollywood knows where its bread is buttered and it bothers that moonbat bastion not one whit that slasher/bloodbath/first person shooter video products of all genre sell so well. Green is green. I don't like it, at all, but Hollywood listens only to its own echo chamber, not the rest of the world. And that chamber is built of money.

      Wouldn't most of the country have to be mad for guns in order to qualify as an overarching culture? Because that does not exist. Half of America, at best, believes in guns for citizens. We do not have a gun culture, we have a car culture. Look, I won't give up my car either. I am resigned to the deaths caused by everyone driving themselves around. So are you. You cannot expect me to believe that you care about saving lives, however, if you will not even suggest restricting access to cars. Because we kill a lot more people, babies and pets included, that way than with guns, by a huge margin. But that fact keeps getting conveniently sidestepped by the anti-gun zealots because it's an inconvenient truth. All sides have inconvenient truths that they'd rather not face.

      I'll be happy to live with stricter car rules in exchange for stricter 1st Amendment rules. Does that scare you, at all? If it does, in what way? --A.

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    5. Anon, Dec 16, 2:04 and 2:06 pm in reply to my post.

      We have a gun culture. We have a car culture. We have a fast food culture. We have a celebrity obsessed. We have a pet culture. We have an internet culture. Shocking, I know, that we have so many cultures that are not mutually exclusive and not all equally problematic or normal.

      Did I blame the mother? Nice straw man. She could have never anticipated this; therefore, her actions were not negligent. I said she was part of the gun culture. More guns lead to more opportunity.

      Comparing them to cars is great. Neither should be banned. Both should be heavily regulated. Requirements including: registered, training, fees, age restrictions and MANDATED safety requirements. One can't drive without a muffler and one shouldn't be allowed to own a gun without trigger locks. You can't drive a tank and shouldn't be allowed to have a semi-automatic.

      Get it?

      You don't know if I have a single barrel-loaded handgun for home protection. It's none of your business either.

      Kids like playing violent video games, so it must be normal. It's not like their brains are transforming at that age or anything. If boys wanted to play games where they rape as many women as they can, do you think there would be a market? Give the kids what they want. Unlimited candy, let them drive when they can reach the pedals.

      People who go to bars and talk about their gun collections are generally fearful paranoids. Yes, I generalized that. Don't like it? Too bad, that's been my experience. Marijuana? That could be potentially a victimless crime, assuming you are not helping support the local meth dealer.

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    6. Anon at 2:32p, in reply to your reply:

      If you're angry while replying then you will only continue to be exasperated by me, because I do defend my position as long as necessary. The "don't like it" bit makes me think you're pissed. You don't like my experience and there's nothing you can do about that, either. Shall we consider our respective experiences cancelled out by each other? Because my moment of self-defense, cited in my original comment higher up, in my opinion, since my life depended on it, outweighs your experience of overhearing boors at a bar.

      Fight me point for point and this could be actually enjoyable for both of us. I say what I say because I believe in my stance. Clearly, neither of us are unintelligent or unserious.

      America is no different than any other country in that it has many cultures, some of which cause problems for everyone else, like the drug culture. But of all the cultures America is famous for, we can agree that the car is much higher on the list than guns.

      The fact that I might be contributing to the drug culture by partaking of weed is just how it is. But I don't think for one second that the weed business is victimless or potentially could be victimless, the evidence to the contrary is overwhelming and there are many uber-capitalist drug lords drowning in money to show for it. Do we consider alcohol victimless?

      Yes, you did blame the mother, by suggestion. You suggest that if she had not had the guns, he would not have had opportunity. Humans are opportunists and that will never change. When we see a ghost of a whisper of a shadow of a chance to get what we want, we will exploit it.

      If you are willing to very, very conservatively allow access to the 2nd Amendment, by restricting its enjoyment so hard it makes it even more prohibitive for most citizens already entitled, entitled, to arm themselves, then I'd be all for it, IF we apply the same conservative standards to another Constitutional amendment, the 1st. Because that one gets abused and misused far more often and consequentially.

      Because the pen is mightier than the gun.

      And cars are not a right, natural or Constitutional, but they are deadlier. You missed the point of my comparison which is to highlight that if lives are what you mean to save, then ban cars. It is not a comparison of rights.

      Got it? --A.

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    7. Why are you so angry? First you accuse me of blaming the mother, then you accuse me of being some type of socialist for favoring more gun restrictions. Why not a Nazi? And, no, I don't need Mayor Bloomberg to inform me of gun laws. Thank you.

      May I remind you that your many assumptions were unprovoked, direct responses to something I posted. Not the other way around.

      And I'm the one flying off the handle?

      You are clearly trying to portray me as irrational due to my supposed emotions and ignorance. You're not that clever. Don't flatter yourself. And don't worry, your fear of not getting the last word is not justified. Feel FREE.

      I'm so glad we put restrictions on people who can't be trusted to operate cars with care. I'm glad we don't let them drive tanks.

      Now, maybe I trump your gun experience because a man once pointed a rifle at me for joy riding in his alley. Was that a rational response? Why did he feel that was necessary?

      Maybe I trump you because my childhood friend called me on the night he, at 21, shot a man he was hanging out with, just for kicks? Clearly not the boy I associated with through high school. He was crying and wanted me to go get his dad who lived up the street and who didn't have a phone. I don't know what made him do that, but I was home from college that summer and my last contact with him was on a prior night when he was flashing that gun around in a bar like he had found a magic wand that gave him the strength of a giant. He was a small guy who wasn't known for picking fights. It was a deadly combination of alcohol and the false bravado of being strapped with fire power, IMHO.

      I don't like our macho gun culture. Where are all the women shooting up society?

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    8. Anony at 4:37pm,

      Angry? I sound angry to you? I said "if" you were angry while replying, it would be exasperating. So are you doing a tit for tat thing there or do you really think I'm just raging? Seriously.

      I've made no assumptions about you at all. I said if. But now I'm pretty sure you were angry when you first replied. Be angry, but just realize that being emotional interferes with the ability to make logical counter-arguments. Don't feel accused, your suggestion is just poorly made, it isn't a deal breaker, per se.

      And now you're introducing a new experience to overcome the original experience you cited. That's called moving the goalposts. I'm not going to comment on your new example until you discuss my experience with a bit more than one-upmanship.

      The cure for insufficient training or education is sufficient training and education. More, not less. If every citizen were required to train in the handling of their 2d Amend. tool, so much automatic knee-jerk fear of guns would be eased. Because when you get to properly handle a gun you do realize you naturally own the power to be empowered safely, properly, legally, and effectively.

      As for macho gun culture, clearly, you have a view of people who use, and misuse, their 2nd Amend. that I don't share. Of course, the internet is a heaving pool of people using and misusing their 1st Amend. right, too. Your assessment isn't based on a single example or on a stereotype, is it? Seriously.

      It's a little like people overseas who really think Texans all wear cowboy hats, or all New Yorkers are callous jerks.

      Do you socialize with gun owners? For all you know, you do but they don't talk about it. Considering the current political climate, can you blame them? If you sound like someone who as a personal policy rejects and detests anyone who uses their 2nd Amend. right, then you have declared your prejudice. Why would anyone share themselves with you if you've made it clear you just fear them without knowing them?

      I invite you to take a tour of yoothboob and liveleak for examples of women doing exactly what you detest. Stupid is an equal opportunity. But, please notice on that tour that there are also many men and women being thoughtful and serious gun owners. As for an example of responsible women actively using their 2nd Amend., for self-defense in particular, I recommend corneredcat.com.

      I only end up with the last word because people give up fighting for their position. That's actually not fun. I want someone to calmly defend their position, logically, sincerely, honestly, toward clarifying why they believe what they believe such that it provokes more discussion, not less. So that it makes me go "hmm, hadn't thought of that yet.." That's what I'm trying to do. Don't you want that?

      But most people on the interwebs just feel some sort of threatened because they can't quite articulate their arguments persuasively, so they lose patience, resent my persistence, end up tossing out insults and then storm out of the room.

      Sigh..... --A.

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  7. I must admit to being one of those Canadians completely baffled by American gun culture. It can't really be as simple as easy access to guns, is it? Canada has plenty of long arms (as opposed to handguns, although that seems to be changing) in the hands of the populace - hunters, target shooters and the like - and we have had sporadic outbreaks of savagery similar to what just took place in Newtown. But we just don't seem to have this passionate, at time vitriolic, tug-of-war between opposing factions of the population.

    Canada has pretty well always had some form or other of gun control, except maybe back in 'frontier times'. Despite that fact, guns have wreaked havoc in many of our larger cities, as they have in the U.S. But the sheer body count is just nowhere near that of the United States, even factoring in population differences.

    There just seems to be a fundamental difference in attitudes about gun usage between our countries, because it's certainly easy enough to procure a gun here if you're really serious about it. And I am sincerely not trying to be condescending or judgmental - I honestly would love for someone to explain it for us, in terms we can get our heads around: What the hell is it with you guys and your guns?

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    1. Absolutely right, happycrab. It's a whole a lot darker, sadder and more complex. And a good part of it is the purposeful dumbing down of our education system to the point where science and rational thought has been replaced by magical thinking (ie- the world is 6,000 yrs old, created in six days by a guy with a beard). Make 'em believe that as fact- and you're halfway there!

      Before these people were in power (ie- prior to Bush The First), there was an obvious and decided delineation between fact and one's 'chosen belief system.' And the cross pollination between these evangelical 'Christians,' the NRA gun lobbies and the politicians they outright buy and own is one incestuous hornet's nest of cross contamination.

      The (true) believers, the (monied) manipulators- and the people who must sadly pay the cost of all the hype and ignorance. And that's just the start...

      Yeah, think "pro" wrestling- except with guns.

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    2. hello happycrab, if I may chime in, and offer my input as an American with a slightly different experience than 'Stan, the blogger.

      Uh-oh, it'll take 2 parts. Sorry. Pt 1/2:

      America actually does not have a gun culture, we have a car culture. In poll after poll, Americans neatly divide into two halves over guns, and several other controversial issues as well. There are those who were never raised with guns, have never even approached a situation where they would wish to have a gun, and think guns are what causes and facilitates crime and bad acts like in CT. The other half either, does see the value of keeping arms in the hands of the citizens, which SCOTUS upheld by the way, or they are gun owners and have realized their entirely lawful potential. I personally had to use a gun in self-defense many years ago. It is why I am here able to type my comment. I didn't even have to fire it, I merely had to brandish it. My mere-feet-away assailant fled when he saw it. That is an example of how a gun is exactly the perfect tool for the job: self-defense. I didn't have to be an expert in karate to win. I didn't have to be muscle bound to win. I didn't have to be agile and powerful to win. I also was raised to never trust that my government could not possibly go astray. No government stays good and healthy with humans at the helm, it's just not in our DNA to stay incorruptible, and it's not in our history, either. America is still the Grand Experiment. If totalitarian, communist and fascist regimes did not still exist on planet earth, I'd be less worried that my government might lose course. But precisely because they do still exist, we are foolish to think "that could never happen here." No? Why not? All it takes is one generation of separation. The people who wrote the Constitution knew what they were doing when they installed the right to bear arms directly next to the right to free speech.

      But, any group of people can be talked out of their rights, if they are subjected to enough propaganda, enough of one side, enough of an agenda, slowly but surely, little by little. It might "seem" as if America is dripping in gun crime blood, but that is only because this atrocity is still fresh. This happens every single time a massacre is perpetrated and America gets heavily criticized by her own media most of all. It's simply not representative of how the vast majority of American life is lived, peacefully, non-violently. We humans kill a lot more of each other with our cars, Canada included, than with guns, far and away. But because those deaths happen chronically vs acutely, we tolerate them. So as long as the deaths occur in a manner that doesn't shock us once in a while, but happen a little bit every day, we're ok with it. We don't struggle to wrap our brains around it, we just accept it. We long ago decided that cars are essential to our daily lives, therefore, we minimize how awful it is how many people die by car. Cars are far, far easier to get and as a mass murder weapon, they are efficient. .....................

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    3. Part Dos:

      As it turns out, by the way, the weapons in this case were all obtained legally, through all the legal channels, in one of the strictest gun control states of the country. The shooter's mother was very pro-2nd Amendment and feared for her safety, among other concerns, and they belonged to her. She reportedly was a heartfelt enthusiast.

      What she never anticipated, however, was that her own son would turn on her.

      And who does? To me, as with Kehoe, Klebold, Harris, Roberts IV, Cho, Loughner, and Holmes, the mentally/emotionally ill and socially ostracized are far more troubling and in desperate need of sincere, direct, immediate attention. The longer we keep being distracted by the "gun!", a tool of self-defense tragically misused, rather than identifying and addressing the mentally and emotionally unstable, the longer we will tolerate these horrific acts. Disarming everyone just so we can pretend it will stop this kind of event is just another act of denial.

      Ok, I'll finally shut up with this note: the worst massacre of children at a school in America is still the bombing in Bath, MI in 1927. Of course, the horrid Beslan, Russia massacre was far worse. I hope my comment offers some respectful insights, thanks for asking. Buenas noches, --A.

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    4. As long as Republicans (and weak kneed Democrats) continue to cut and eliminate every mental health "entitlement" program across the country at the same time that the NRA holds the same politicians hostage with their lobbying/election dollars, we will continue "to be distracted by the gun," and the trail of tears and dead bodies they leave in their wake...

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    5. I'm not going to blame either party as I've seen mental health budgets slashed by liberal and conservative alike but yes i imagine these horrors to be mental health issues above all else.

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    6. "On the same day that a man with a Bushmaster semiautomatic rifle and two handguns killed 27 people in Newtown, a man with a knife attacked 22 children and one adult outside a primary school in China. If, as the NRA is so fond of saying, “guns don’t kill people – people kill people,” how do you explain the fact that in China, nobody died?"

      Bill Nemitz, Portland Press Herald

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    7. Anony at 11:22 AM,

      So if a shooter only wounds a slew of victims, it would follow that what they used to wound them no longer matters, correct? If you're still mad at the potential of a chosen/improvised weapon or part thereof, then we should be freaked out over cell phones, as triggering mechanisms for IEDs. Do you know how many children are killed and maimed by IEDs? Yeah, sure, IEDs could be made without them, but the makers would just be slowed down. Humans adapt very quickly.

      The problem is national chronic neglect of the mentally/emotionally fragile and ill. That is the problem. How many more have to die before we will fix it? --A.

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    8. Lets not forget what (supposedly) a few men with box cutters were able to accomplish.
      I've been in a street shooting ~ not an involved party, just me and a friend at the wrong place at the wrong time and I will take my chances with a shooter over someone skilled with a knife, or patient enough to learn some chemistry.
      A gun is usually very loud and alerts 'everyone' that something bad is happening and where the 'bad' is coming from - not so true with knives, swords, chemicals, cars, baseball bats, etc.
      What I do fear is a skilled knife in the back of a theater, a bad man covering the mouths and puncturing the lungs and heart of the movie goers, one by one, no sound to anyone ~ a patient killer could walk out and be home in time to 'enjoy' the news as I would bet that it might be the end of the film before anyone notices... or if you need events that have happened ~ in Argentina when Evita was showing - no guns, just bug fumigators and other nasty aerosols were thrown into the movie theaters blinding, destroying lungs, burning, etc.

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    9. Stan B, give up your car, RTFN. Watch how fast the tears dry up and bodies stop piling up. But, you don't care, not really. --A.

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    10. Anony at 2:27 PM, so agree. I am far more afraid of knives. A knifer can disfigure you horribly and leave you alive to face the shunning by society for the rest of your life. There are fates worse than death. --A.

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  8. What I think is striking about it is the amount of commercial publicity firearms get. Regulating the kind of publicity they get, without prohibiting it, doesn't seem to me like violating the 2nd amendment at all (correct me if I'm wrong). It would surely reduce the drive kids have for guns, without affecting gun owners in any way.

    I wonder if it is possible for the public to pressure the firearm industry and distributors to do this job. And if Hollywood could self-regulate the exibition of sexuality in movies in a way considered sensible for much of the public opinion, why can't it regulate efficiently the exposition of firearms?

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    1. Just as soon as auto manufacturers, dealerships, and gas stations have driving tests and background checks to ensure the buyer is not only competent but does not have DUIs or speeding tickets, is in a healthy mental and physical state, etc.

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    2. Notice that I commented on the possibility of the public to pressure the industry, not for the industry to do it by itself, what is of course counterintuitive. What I'm asking is: why aren't the citizens sensitive to mass shootings attacking the question of firearm publicity?

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  9. In response to Canadian happycrab's request ("I honestly would love for someone to explain it for us, in terms we can get our heads around: What the hell is it with you guys and your guns?"), I'll offer one viewpoint.

    I grew up in a gun-owning family. My maternal grandfather used one on the farm, my father was both a duck and deer hunter, as were every uncle who lived nearby (and probably the out-of-state ones as well). I was given a gun and taught to use it for pheasant hunting.

    One difference I see between then (1950s-1970s) and now is that for my family the gun was a means of food procurement (and some recreation). And for grandpa it was used for vermin eradication on the farm. But nobody in the family to my knowledge viewed it as an instrument for preserving our freedom against possible encroachment by a government. None of us viewed guns as having anything to do with personal freedom or Founding Fathers or constitutional rights.

    Nowadays people are told if they don't have a gun they are at risk of being unable to protect themselves against other people or institutions. I don't know why this attitude has arisen or perpetuated itself. Ultimately I suspect there's a lot of money involved.

    I still have my father's deer rifle, but I don't keep it for personal protection.

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    1. The protection argument goes back to the establsihment of the right but what most gun owners really want to protect is the right to live the life you described.

      There's a lot of money involved in selling fear and the news outlets have gotten it down to an art.

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    2. I agree. If "terrorism is the systematic use of terror, often violent, especially as a means of coercion" then the news has made a business model of terrorism.
      Something along the lines of "you need US to be safe, keep watching or you will betray yourself and those that trust you. Oh, and here is a word from our sponsors'." (insert medications, gold, home security, and larger vehicle commercials here)

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    3. I too have the rifles I inherited from my father. Three of them, in fact - a .30-30, a .303 and a .22 for plinking cans and shooting varmints. As I mentioned, plenty of Canadians own and regularly use long arms. What we don't have is countless citizens of every stripe arming themselves to the teeth with absurdly overpowered handguns and semi- (easily converted into fully-) automatic machine guns. It is extremely difficult to legally purchase and own a handgun in Canada, and nearly impossible with a semi-automatic. Call me naive, but I see not being able to head over to the local gun store and walk out with enough firepower to wipe out your whole neighbourhood as a good thing.

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  10. whole-heartedly agree. The killers should never be referred to by name or have their picture displayed on the news or in the paper at all. Furthermore, the focus of news should be on the victims and any mention of the killer should in no way glorify them or their deeds, eg "The cowardly killer..."

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  11. I bet anything the media would retort that all they're doing is telling us the news, it is up to us to not glorify the perpetrator. On the one hand, they're right, and for the most part, we don't. The adult, mature, considerate of us, that is. The young, immature, unserious viewers? Who go out on the web and start posting the most cruel, repellent and heartless comments they can imagine in reaction? For the "lulz"? Those who will post "hi 5 to the shooter, that dude is now cool" type comments are who glorify the killer, not the media. What bothers me is how fast the media skips right over the responsible party for the crime, the person, and hyper-focus on what they used. Ok, let me do the same: a man attacked with a hammer attempting to kill someone else. WTF?! A man TRIED to kill over 20 KIDS in China the other day, but he failed, so knives are not the problem. WTF. It's so tiresome how we keep avoiding the real issue, bad and broken tool-makers..... --A.

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  12. Naively ascribing the urge to be famous as a motive for these types of mass killings is ridiculous to me. I expect better of Ebert. (Maybe the movies have been influencing him. e.g. Natural Born Killers)

    As for guns for protection, my family in Florida kept a shotgun for post-hurricane situations where you can't rely on the police being able to help fend off looters.

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    1. Oh, that's another good point, post-mass weather disasters, you are totally on your own, cops will be even more scarce. I remember what happened after Katrina too. But don't worry, anti-gun zealots will ignore this fact and cherry pick out what they want to harp on, while refusing to answer all the rest of the arguments. Because they'll lose and they know it. LOL And the band plays on..... --A.

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  13. "On the same day that a man with a Bushmaster semiautomatic rifle and two handguns killed 27 people in Newtown, a man with a knife attacked 22 children and one adult outside a primary school in China. If, as the NRA is so fond of saying, “guns don’t kill people – people kill people,” how do you explain the fact that in China, nobody died?" (Bill Nemitz, Portland Press Herald)

    Good point. This Connecticut shooter put ELEVEN SHOTS IN SOME OF THOSE LITTLE KIDS. If he had had just a rifle or revolver, some of those kids might have lived with injuries. And he wouldn't have been able to kill as many. If people won't let you restrict guns, why not restrict the type of guns.

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  14. Wow, comparisons to "cars" are ridiculous, fallacious, and disgusting in light of what just happened. As usual all the same pathetic arguments are trotted out: You need a military style assault weapon to protect grandmas. Just embarrassing and illogical. These guys aren't killing people with actual hunting weapons they're killing them with high capacity military weapons. You'd think this would be a good time for NRA* fanatics to shut up and feel a bit ashamed.

    *the biggest joke is that people think this industry front group cares about regular gun owners rights, when all they want to do is make it easier to sell expensive weapons for the companies that pay them to spew propaganda.

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    1. Steve, how is the comparison of death tolls exacted by two different tools fallacious? Name the fallacy so I can research if you're right. Speaking just for my arguments, I know I've never said grandmas must have military assault weapons, though why not. Better than young men between 18-24, who are not exactly famous for their judgment. Grandmas on the other hand tend to be a more thoughtful and careful lot. I've already spelled out why the citizens should have the ability to arm themselves at the same level as their military but either you didn't read it or you prefer to just ignore or scorn it, rather than make a sincere effort at counter-argument. Advance the logic, not the sentiment of your position because just being emotional is not persuasive. --A.

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    2. There are too many Anonymous gun trolls to keep up with. Nobody's going to buy your embarrassing "emotional" argument here. Your arguments are all fallacious and rooted in fantasy: Grandmas needing weapons, fantasy military invasions. Such bizarre, delusional fantasy doesn't warrant respect.

      Delete
  15. To AnonymousDecember 15, 2012 11:20 PM (and are you all the anonymouses that came after?)

    "when the weight of commentary issued by Americans at large is looked at carefully, unemotionally, you would see that a nearly neat half of Americans are irrationally afraid of guns, blindly reject them, think they are totally wrong for anyone to have, ever."

    Well, that's not emotionally charged at all! Excellent way to start a rational argument. Please continue.

    "The other half may not understand guns, were not raised to handle them correctly, but they know they are essential to protecting our freedoms, personal and national."

    Can you please explain to me how I protect my rights with a gun? Or any weapon? Specifically, how does a weapon keep my freedom of speech?

    "If we really care about saving lives, we would outlaw what is not a right for anyone, Constitutional or otherwise: cars. We kill a lot of more of each other with our vehicles than with guns, easily. But because WE want our cars and we love our cars and insist we must have them for whatever we want to have them for, we will tolerate all the deaths we inflict on ourselves with them. That's ok, just as long as they don't all happen at once, we can tolerate it.We do not have a gun culture. We have a car culture."

    Ah, an adroit comparison! Just as I cannot work, shop or run my business without a car, so do I need a gun. It's the perfect parallel because it mirrors exactly how the United States developed with the car, preventing walkable environments and distances. Do continue.

    "There's no getting around it: a woman, able elderly or able disabled armed with a gun can successfully defeat an unarmed male intruder, saving his/her own life, without being strong or agile or even expert."

    Your power of prediction is breath-taking! I think what I especially like about guns is how everyone is able to use one perfectly without training. There's never any question of panic or confusion when it comes to protecting yourself with a gun.

    "Without a gun, s/he will likely be who dies. You don't hear about it because the media refuses to publicize all the successful, proper uses of a firearm, because oh dang, that doesn't fit their narrative. Far, far more gun owners never commit crimes with them, it of course doesn't even occur to them to commit a crime just because they have a gun. Quite the contrary, they relax in the knowledge that they have a fighting change--a fighting chance--to meet an armed assailant with matching firepower in order to stop exactly this sort of atrocity should it happen in front of them. Trusting a good government to never go bad is a dangerously naive and misplaced trust."

    Ah, what a beautiful scenario! The brave individual standing tall against all comers! So confident! So strong! What a hero! (I'm just confused why more of these catastrophes aren't averted by such strong, brave individuals.)

    "Unless and until anti-gun zealots can make well-reasoned, convincing counter-arguments, and I mean counter-arguments that they can defend calmly round after round, without just throwing up their hands in contempt or hurling insults, common sense is common sense and I remain firmly on pro-2nd Amendment ground. It is a fundamental and existential right, long before being Constitutional."

    I doubt you'd hear them if they did.

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    1. Amy, what is emotionally charged, exactly, about how I characterized what polls have reported? Explain to me how being against a tool of self-defense entirely, without ever having touched one, without ever using one, without being trained, is not irrational? Do enlighten me, I'll wait.

      Let me use a different example to help you: is hating a movie without even seeing it, irrational? Oh, look at that, now you understand what irrational means. See, I can use your tools of contempt on you, how does it feel?

      "Can you please explain to me how I protect my rights with a gun? Or any weapon? Specifically, how does a weapon keep my freedom of speech?"

      I'm going to answer as if this is a serious question though I don't think it is, and you just want me to think this through for you. Have you ever heard of the Socratic Method? Would you like for me to google that for you?

      Ok, now, start with the question, to yourself, "why would the writers of the Constitution make such a provision?" Is it because they learned first hand how hard it is enjoy free speech when your government doesn't like what you say and they just push you around? Still think they must have been idiots? Because they did provide for the 1st Amendment, and that wasn't idiotic, or was it?

      How does the 2nd Amendment protect the 1st Amendment is by making it impossible for our government to simply march over us without fear because we are more powerful than it.

      What does a government, any government, fear? Loss of power. In America, we insist, so far anyway, that the People be the owners of the power. If the government can merely kill us and start censoring our newspapers, our internet, our texts, you name your media of speech, then that is what will happen. People are not angels. People run the government. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Never hand over absolute power to especially people who relish and seek it as "civil servants." Never. You think the people of America are immune to the temptations of corruption more oppressive in other regimes? If so, you haven't been paying attention to the corruption in the government now.

      Power of prediction? No, it's your sarcasm that's excessive. This is your idea of arguing with me, an attempt at pale ad hominem? Yes, that's so persuasive.

      Answer my question now: if your mother is alone in a house with a gun and an unarmed man enters, do you want her to ignore the gun or at least hold it up? Answer that question honestly or I will know you are not sincere in arguing this issue, you simply detest guns and the people who value them, and that is that.

      You doubt I'd hear them? Is THAT your counter-argument? Wow, that was easy.

      As for the rest of your comment, it is clear you just want to belittle me and those who think like me. Xenophobic much? Yes, that'll convert votes for your side, right?

      When you're ready to stop leading with your emotions, I'll know. As of now, all you want to do is make fun of me so you don't have to work at defending your position. Argue the points, not your opinion of me. Argue. The. Points. Give it a try. --A.

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  16. "...is hating a movie without even seeing it, irrational?"

    *tweeeeeeeeeeeeee*

    Illegal use of a comma, five paragraph penalty.

    My dear sir, I am not *arguing* with you! Wherever did you get THAT idea? Arguing with you, the very idea!

    I'm MAKING FUN OF YOU.

    I know I shouldn't poke the crazy but it's like having a loose tooth or a really scabby scab and you just have to keep poking and twisting and getting your nail under it just a bit to see if it'll give --

    So please go on. Do tell me what I think and know and what I'm going to say next.

    (Oh, and I LOVE the bit about my mom! Such exquisite manipulation! Keep up the good work!)

    Amy

    P.S. (I couldn't find anything at gallup.com about "a nearly neat half of Americans are irrationally afraid of guns, blindly reject them, think they are totally wrong for anyone to have, ever." Nothing about "There are those who were never raised with guns, have never even approached a situation where they would wish to have a gun, and think guns are what causes and facilitates crime and bad acts like in CT" at pewresearch.org, either. Am I going to the wrong sites?)

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    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  17. Harvard did research. The conclusions:

    1. Where there are more guns there is more homicide (literature review).
    2. Across high-income nations, more guns = more homicide.
    3. Across states, more guns = more homicide
    4. Across states, more guns = more homicide (2)

    http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/research/hicrc/firearms-research/guns-and-death/index.html

    That is the data. The rest is spin.

    It is sad to see how many reasonable people are utterly unwilling to accept cold hard statistics as truth.

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  18. Here's a link to a personal story that speaks beautifully what I keep talking about every single time tragedies like this happen:

    http://anarchistsoccermom.blogspot.com/2012/12/thinking-unthinkable.html

    Please explain to me Stan why Amy can come after me personally and her comments stand but when I defend myself using her weapon of choice, ridicule, that gets deleted? Honest question. --A.

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    1. Some comments get deleted when I get tired of endless bickering.

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    2. Fair enough. I really was hoping someone would engage in a friendly debate with me, but, so it goes. No worries, now I know. My apologies for any offense. --A.

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  19. Stan, I apologize if I went too far on your blog. I accept any comment deletion you may care exact.

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  20. Violent movies, video games and music help produce and induce violent actions. A troubled person with years of voilent intake can likewise perform the same actions without much of a conscience about it; they have been desensitized.

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  21. The blog post and many comments a clearly more related to personal perspective than any evidence-based discussion. We don't know much about the mindset and motives of this killer. And I think it's dangerous to suggest making such a person anonymous. Was this young man seeking fame? We have no idea, and if we hide his identity and motives out of some misplaced notion that his example may inspire others we cut ourselves off from having a reasonable basis to evaluate what may or may not help prevent similar actions.

    Dare I say it's time for each of us to look at what scientific study tells us about violence and mental illness and quit relying on our gut reactions. We only make progress when we can look at problems with clear eyes and good information.

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  22. A short scene from an English TV show, with a short clip of an interesting view from a Forensic Phychiatrist concerning the media: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PezlFNTGWv4

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  23. I've stayed out of the discussion until now, but the one thing that I've been noticing is the larger number of people posting comments under the anonymous selection. I'm sure there are a lot of reasons why, but I personally give less credence to remarks made by people who aren't willing to connect in some way to what they are writing.

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