Friday, February 02, 2007

Tank Johnson and the vast chasm of media ignorance

Tank Johnson is the designated bad boy of this year’s SuperBowl. He was arrested on firearms charges and then his friend was shot dead in a nightclub. He became the posterboy for the problem of “guns in the NFL”.

Once again, we see the sport press take an arrest and run with it to push an agenda. (Shades of Duke lacrosse.) The death of his friend is an even worse example of egregious exploitation. Johnson’s only involvement was that he went to the club with his friend. The only gun was in the hands of the killer.

I guess he could have stayed home. That is what the sports press implies. Yet, that same media mob waxes ecstatic about the vibrant club scene in Miami and brag about the bashes they attend. That seems a little hypocriticalthe scribblers are allowed to party, but the players, the stars of the show, are supposed to be homebodies.

Beyond the hypocrisy, the other striking thing about the commentary is that sportwriters have the same liberal animus toward private ownership of firearms as the rest of the MSM. They don’t like guns, they don’t understand guns, they know no one who likes guns, and they don’t understand people who own guns.

A sampling:

From the LA Times:

Today's players live in a different world. The average American will think they understand what they are watching. The average American will have no idea.

Just listen.

OK, Tank, so why does a 6-foot-3, 300-pound man need so many guns

From Sports Illustrtated:

As much as I applaud the desire of Goodell and NBA commissioner David Stern to stem the tide of mayhem in their respective leagues, I think the answer is pretty clear. It goes beyond the NFL, NBA or NCAA, the street culture in which many athletes grow up, and even the common locker-room pressure to prove your manhood in the face of a challenge, on the field or off.

America is a gun-and-violence-happy culture

From the New York Daily News:

The Bears, the NFL, the judge and prosecutor in Johnson's case all had a chance to send a different message about guns and violence. The Bears suspended Johnson for one game following his arrest. They could have left Johnson back home for the Super Bowl. Imagine what message that would have sent?


How does he reconcile the fact that his friend was killed by a gun?

"I don't like violence in this world. It's terrible. It's glorified in movies and music. I'm not a violent person," he said. "My friend was killed with a gun. It wasn't like he had a gun and the guy had a gun and they were shooting at each other. He was killed by a man with a gun. Does that mean that everybody who has a gun is bad? No. He was just killed by a man with a gun."

It's the old "guns don't kill people" argument. But if people didn't have guns, that would solve half of the problem

From the Orlando Sentinel:

I'd get indignant, but what's the use? Johnson is just the latest proof that being an NFL star is a license to kill, or at least have enough ammo to wipe out a small town.


"I just got caught up in being a normal guy," Johnson explained.

Normal if you're the Unabomber or a Shiite militiaman. Police found a .44 magnum revolver, a .50 caliber handgun, a .45 caliber handgun, a .308 caliber rifle and two assault-style rifles in Johnson's house

Tank Johnson is not the first guy to get this treatment from the MSM and he won’t be the last. Local reporters mindlessly repeat what the police tell them and cannot separate fact from spin. After all, is a scoped .308 a sniper rifle or a deer gun? Is 500 rounds of ammunition a lot? Based on what criteria
Here’s a little primer on “gun culture” for any journalist who might read this:

1. Guns are just tools.

2. An individual weapon is a very specialized tool. A given type (rifle, shotgun, revolver, semi-auto pistol) works for certain purposes, but not for others. People who shoot and hunt often end up with a variety of guns in their safe.

3. Guns do not wear out very fast and it takes a century or more for them to become obsolete. So when we upgrade, we still have a useful tool that often has sentimental value. So we hold on to the old gun even when we buy new ones. This does not mean we are amassing an arsenal. We are just collecting.

4. Even with a single gun the ammunition can be specialized. You use different shotgun shells for turkey, pheasant and quail. (If you are a serious birdhunter, you use different shotguns for turkey, pheasant and quail.) There is premium ammunition and practice ammunition. Ammunition for varmints and ammunition for big game.

5. Birdshot is sold in boxes of 25 shells. Handgun ammo usually comes in box of 50 rounds.

6. The most common firearm in America is the .22 rimfire. The most convenient and economical way to buy .22RF ammunition is in bricks of 500 rounds each.

7. So dig a little bit before you mindlessly repeat “arsenal” and “hundreds of rounds of ammunition.” It makes you sound silly to a big chunk of your audience.

8. Sure, another part of your audience doesn’t know much about guns and your breathless reports grab their attention. But did you really become a reporters to scare the ignorant? Isn’t that a little, ignoble?

No comments: