Tag Archive: Newtown

The media frenzy over the UCSB shooting frenzy

Gun play

Gun play

The University of California Santa Barbara killings by Elliot Rodger should have unleashed a unified national outcry to break the mental illness/gun accessibility chain, as exhibited by Richard Martinez, father of one of Elliot’s victims, Chris Martinez. Instead, some feminist writers have gone off on a tangent that has led to a separate media frenzy. From slamming so-called “pickup artists” to blaming the shootings on Seth Rogen/Judd Apatow movies, these articles appear to glom existing feminist theories onto a tragedy, or worse, as Judd Apatow tweeted about Ann Hornaday‘s Washington Post article, “She uses tragedy to promote herself with idiotic thoughts.” In this case, such theories are woefully off base, and threaten to drive a wedge between men and women on an issue on which we all should agree.

President Obama playing 3-D chess

Between the 2012 elections, President Barack Obama‘s inauguration speech last month, and last Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, the President seems to have checked, or even checkmated, the Republican Party. In addition to Obama’s handy disposal of Willard Mitt Romney on Election Day, consider the following:

Second Amendment and other constitutional rights are not absolute

Messaging Matters2

In the current gun violence debate, the National Rifle Association and its supporters often cite the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution for their opposition to sensible gun safety laws. However, as guest poster Kenny Pick recently wrote here, such a view falsely turns the Second Amendment into a “super right.” In fact, most individual rights under the U.S. Constitution, including the Second Amendment and other amendments in the Bill of Rights, are not so absolute; rather, they are subject to reasonable limits. Here is a brief and partial list of examples:

Guest Post: The Super Right

Messaging Matters is pleased to present this guest post from Kenny Pick, creator and host of the “Turn Up the Night with Kenny Pick” political talk show. Kenny writes here about the conservatives’ erroneous treatment of the Second Amendment:

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Like many Americans, I’ve been thinking long and hard about the epidemic of mass shootings in our country – Desperately trying to grasp the reasoning behind the hyper reaction of 2nd Amendment purists regarding gun control. It seems that the NRA, Conservatives, some gun owners and manufacturers believe the 2nd Amendment guarantees what I’ve started referring to as a ’Super Right.’ A right that supersedes all others out of a selfish belief that there should be no limitations on the ownership of any type of weapon. It strikes me that every reasonable American should be comfortable finding a happy medium restricting what arms we all have the right to bear; Somewhere between a pocket knife and a doomsday device.

CNN’s big gun mistake

Many people are still talking about the recent Piers Morgan interview of Alex Jones on CNN. We’re not linking it here in order not to give Jones more publicity, but the interview is easy to find. In fact, “interview” is the wrong term. It was a one-way crazy rant by Jones on a national platform. CNN was ill-advised to invite Jones in the first place.

First of all, Jones is well-known for his ranting, raving and conspiracy theories, including the 9/11 “truther” conspiracy. There’s plenty of footage of Jones from his radio show, yelling, wailing, sobbing, anything but talking about issues in a civil way. Again, we’re not going to link to such footage here, but it can easily be found. Suffice it to say that Piers Morgan and his CNN producers knew or should have known that they weren’t in for an interview, but rather, a food throwing episode.

Secondly, the purported immediate reason for inviting Jones was that he was behind a petition to deport Piers Morgan after Morgan took on the NRA and gun rights advocates, and called for sensible gun laws in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut school shootings. It’s Journalism 101 that a tv news host should never make himself the story, yet that’s precisely what Morgan did by inviting Jones on his show. That’s in addition to the other seemingly obvious guideline that, just because a loony with an Internet connection starts a petition, it doesn’t mean he deserves a national television spotlight.

It is difficult to escape the conclusion that CNN invited Jones on “Piers Morgan Tonight” as a publicity stunt, knowing that Jones would be his usual uncivilized, explosive self and that the interview would make for “good tv,” good ratings, and thus good money for CNN. Such a decision fails to move the serious debate over gun violence forward, or do justice to the Sandy Hook Elementary School children and teachers mowed down in Newtown.

Two Conservative arguments for gun control

The tragic killings of children in Newtown, Connecticut seem to have set off a noisy political debate over gun laws, perhaps more than previous mass shootings such as those in Aurora, Colorado and Tucson, Arizona. However, many of the arguments are likely to fall along the same lines as always, which could lead to the usual gridlock and inaction. To break this gridlock, advocates for stronger gun laws might benefit from two frames long used by conservatives:

1. “Law and Order”

Conservatives (and the Republican Party that they dominate) have long tried to claim the mantle of the party of “law and order.” Then-candidate Richard M. Nixon successfully ran for and won the Presidentcy on a “law and order” platform in 1968, as America was being roiled by anti-Vietnam War protests and the killings of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. The death toll from the mass shootings of recent years far exceeds that of the events of 1968, thus we have more of a “law and order” problem today.

Likewise, the flip side of “law and order” is the charge that Republicans leveled against Democrats for years, i.e., that they were “soft on crime.” Also, note that being for “law and order” precisely fits framing guru George Lakoff‘s “strict father” paradigm which dominates among conservatives and Republicans, and which includes adherence to the “rule of law.” The “soft on crime” charge can be leveled against conservatives who fail to support reasonable steps to reduce gun crimes and maintain “law and order” in our streets and our schools.

Those who want to advocate for sensible gun laws (e.g., reinstating the Assault Weapons Ban, closing the “gun show loophole,” and establishing an effective database to prevent persons who have been ruled mentally incompetent from purchasing guns) are usually thought of as liberal. The “law and order” approach can turn this stereotype on its head, and maybe even attract a few conservatives or independents to the cause.

2. “Right to Life”

The Declaration of Independence contains the famous phrase: “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Likewise, the Constitution contains references to the right to life. Conservatives have glommed onto the “right to life” phrase to push for the outlawing of abortion. They strongly stand for the right to life — of fetuses. Once those fetuses are born, not so much.

However, advocates for sensible gun laws can argue for such laws based on the “right to life” of children and other would-be victims of mass shooters. This is especially apparent in a case like Newtown, where such a large portion of those killed were small children, gunned down in their classrooms. If you make the argument that these kids and their teachers and principals had a “right to life” or even a right to “freedom” — another favorite conservative word — from crazed gunmen with easy access to military-style assault weapons, the good Christians and other conservatives who advocate for the “right to life” of fetuses could have a hard time explaining why kids who were fetuses just a few years earlier don’t deserve the same protections.

Based on the lack of results on gun control over the past decade under the traditional approach, there’s no harm in giving these arguments a try and reporting back here as to what kind of reaction you receive.