Monday, April 20, 2009

Gun Hating Idiot: 0, MeatAxe: 1

After reading this article, I wrote this letter to the editors of Time Magazine today:

Dear Michael A. Lindenberger,

Your article on the 10 year anniversary of Columbine is loaded with alarming-sounding facts and statistics.

But you omit some numbers that would paint a clearer picture of America in 2009. Crime statistics, for example would show the effect of all this gun ownership. (Crime has decreased in the last 10 years)

A closer look at the number of concealed carry permit holders who commit violent crimes would tell you if extending those laws has made America a more dangerous place. (The rate of violent crime among concealed carry permit holders is statistically pretty close to zero.)

But of course, including any of these telling figures would risk turning your biased hit-piece on gun owners into responsible journalism.

UPDATE: Monday, April 27. No response from the Editors of Time with regard to my allegation that this is garbage masquerading as journalism.


cnick said...

You know what bugs the shit out of me with Columbine? Yes, yes, it was very tragic. But, in 2003 (for example), an average of 10 US teenagers died EVERY DAY in alcohol-related car accidents. Talk about disproportionate response. School shootings are just way overblown by the media.

MeatAxe said...

Well, the news outlets are in competition with eachother and they all love sensational stories. And Columbine has a lot of sensational elements. Having worked in newsrooms for a couple years, I know how it works.

A light plane goes down, someone writes the story. Then on the website they link to 3 other stories about light planes that went down this year. Wow, you think. Thats a lot of plane crashes.

The TV piece runs with a graphic of a small plane about to hit a mountain. There is video of the plane plunging into a house, taken by a kid with a cell phone.

Pretty soon the impression you are starting to form -- that it is impossible to build a reliable light plane which will stay in the air -- is confirmed by the dramatic music and the Blood In The Skies graphic on the plane crash story.

Next day they do the investigation story and show video of the NTSB guy dragging the black box out of the wreckage. Day after that is the funeral, complete with mike-in-the-face interview with tearful relative or survivor. At this point the reporter asks What Can Be Done To Avoid These Tragedies?

Buried in the 19th paragraph is the fact that light plane safety is at an all time high and that crashes are at an all time low and continue to decline due to better cockpit design, more effective safety features, and more effective navigation aids.

Narrative beats reality every time.

cnick said...

You're definitely right about the media. I read somewhere that school violence (include killings) was actually not unheard of in the early part of the 20th century also, but it just didn't get reported instantaneously as part of a 24-hour news cycle.

Also, people seem much less interested in every day death than in unusual deaths. They are willing to accept death on a large scale, but not small-scale "scary" deaths like school shootings or airplane crashes. My perspective is: dead is dead.

If my kid died in a car crash the same day as the columbine killings, did his death somehow count for less? It sure does in the eyes of the public.

Jay G said...

You provide the pictures, I'll provide the war.

Lost in all of the coverage of the Columbine anniversary, of course, was the fact that they DID NOT PROSECUTE the woman who bought 3 of the 4 guns used, in clear defiance of Federal law WRT straw purchases...

Atom Smasher said...

AND I heard something on the radio the other day that stated that all the junk about the "trenchcoat mafia" and gunning for jocks was complete BS - never happened. Just a couple of nutty punks, one on meds, with some lax parenting.

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