Man shoots up church, kills a little more of my faith in the media.
After reading the news report, I couldn’t help but realize that the media — for all the good that it does and all the enlightenment that it does accomplish — does have a sharklike tendency to bite onto whatever shocking current event it can find and bleed it dry.
Here’s the sparknotes version of the story, for those swamped by summer’s priorities:
1. Crazy old guy walks into a church.
2. Crazy old guy has a 12-gauge shotgun.
3. Crazy old guy fires, kills two.
4. Plot twist: He hates liberals and gays.
It’s unfortunate that the old guy unleashed buckshot on the tolerantly faithful, and it certainly is newsworthy because there are bodies involved, but what really bugs me about the story is that it adds more fire to the idea that all firearms are bad and they only harm good people. The whole anti-liberal and anti-gay vibe doesn’t help the gun-toting, belligerently ass-backwards redneck stereotype of gun owners either.
But it’s insignificant cosmetic details like appearance that helps to spread more fear and untruth about gun ownership. The guy looks scary, and he had a gun, therefore scary people own guns. People will read the story, see the pictures, and once again jump to the conclusion that guns must have been the problem because that is the only image other than the perp’s mugshot that’s going to stick in fearful minds. If all you knew about guns was learned from what you saw in the news, then you too would lock your doors and try to stop these guns from invading your homes and pulling their own triggers at your loved ones. The self-defense aspect of firearms is rarely given any sort of national airtime, so it shouldn’t be surprising if the reaction goes along the lines of “Jesus Christ, he used a 12-gauge — one of the most efficient room-clearing wonderblunderbusses put into the hands of practiced killers everywhere!”
A lack of real information is the real culprit behind that irrational fear and trigger-happy fascination with guns in today’s society. Very rarely will you find someone who respects guns for what they are and perhaps even uses them in a safe and sporting manner, a far cry from the anti-gunners who want to ban objects they know nothing about and the gun fanboys who want to play with the “sweet ass deagles” that they’ve only encountered in a digital battlefield. The fact that the firearms accidents committed by keyboard warriors and other unsafe goons glorifies the equally insane anti-gun groups doesn’t improve the situation much, either.
If the social effects of media reports on guns and violence has taught me anything, it’s that we’ve almost completely lost our ability to think independently. People rely too much on their glands and not enough on their mind (if only the nerve signals could be rerouted correctly so that what we fear doesn’t become what we think).
The whole issue about guns has done more than just inform me more and help me reach a reasonable opinion on the issue, but it has opened my eyes to the overall media policy of masquerading half-truths as facts so long as nobody notices. If they only report the bad side of one very controversial issue, then what’s to say that this one-sidedness hasn’t already metastasized, crippling other issues, like the Iraq war or healthcare?
That, more than whether or not guns were to blame for the deaths of the churchgoers, is what worries me most.