Last week, when we were talking about my “can’t-miss” plan to stop mass shootings, the discussion centered (somewhat snarkily) on what the media and we, the reading public, could do to deter would-be shooters. That “modest proposal” had one fatal flaw, however: It would have required the cooperation of the media, and therefore wouldn’t be possible in today’s climate. Instead, we live in a time when, every single time a horrific crime is committed with a gun, the media rushes out to blame…well, all of the people who didn’t do it. But why? Of course, nobody’s talking–but I have a few ideas on the matter…
The Charitable Explanation
The charitable explanation is that it’s just human nature–everyone needs an outlet for anger and grief, and it used to be that mass shooters were rarely taken alive. So people had nobody to turn their anger on, and that’s why law-abiding gun owners and the organizations that represent us wound up catching the brunt of society’s rage when something like the Columbine massacre happened. But that charitable explanation doesn’t hold up when compared to other kinds of mass murder. After the Oklahoma City Bombing, were farmers and fuel-oil consumers blamed for the ANFO bombs McVeigh and Nichols used? When Alek Minassian drove a rental van into a crowd, killing 10, did the public clamor for van control? So, I’ll save my charity for the Salvation Army.
The Cynical Explanation
The cynical explanation is that what the media needs is readers, and that readers are drawn in by violent content. “If it bleeds, it leads” is a mantra that’s even older than the contents of my sainted granny’s coffee-table candy dish. However, if you can’t have actual violence, controversy about that violence will do just fine. So once the event itself starts to recede from the public’s memory, the best way to keep people reading is to anger and upset as many of them as possible–preferably at each other. All you need do, as the journalist, is translate a specific (and horrific) event into a longer-running controversy. Because gun rights versus gun control is a long-standing debate in America, all the media has to do is throw out a few insults at NRA members in the wake of a shooting attack, and the controversy will flare for weeks or months…and everyone, pro and con, will be reading.
The Conspiratorial Explanation
Don’t worry, I’m not going to start frothing about the Illuminati, mostly because my application is still pending (fingers crossed!) and I don’t want to have to wait for the next Galactic Convergence to apply again. But golly, it’s almost as if the who’s-who of mainstream journalists have gotten together and collectively decided how they’re going to write their stories. It’s so weird how the quotes and calls to action from Everytown For Gun Safety are just ready to go right when those journalists are on deadline, any time of day or night, whenever there’s a mass shooting. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think that the media crossed the line from reporting the news to trying to influence it a long time ago. And that if your aim was to try to overturn the Second Amendment, turning those of us who believe it into pariahs is a dandy way to start.
How about you, readers? Charity, cynicism, or conspiracy? Tell us in the comments!