My e-mail yesterday included links to the “most recommended content about the Connecticut school shooting from the Daily Kos community.” Forgive me, Daily Kos, for not reading the articles. I’m sure the writers had good intentions, but only so much light can be shed when the story is about carnage, especially when most of the victims are children. What’s the point of reading about a massacre, once you’re aware of the basic facts? (And yes, I know, it took the media a while to get the facts straight.)
Titillation is the point. The news peddlers know we can’t resist stories in which gruesome things happen to people for no good reason. We gawk at the wreckage and think oh, those poor children, they could have been my children, I’m so glad they weren’t!
Before long the news peddlers are milking the story for all it’s worth, with photos of slaughtered kids, and interviews with their classmates and relatives. Yes, but how does it make you feel knowing Joey was shot in the face a mere 10 feet from where you were standing?
The news peddlers stoke our pity and fear, because that’s where the money is. In this regard they’re a lot like the gun merchants, who stoke our fear then peddle the idea that assault weapons will keep us safe. I’m thinking of words on the Web site of the company that made the rifle used by the killer in Connecticut:
With a Bushmaster for security and home defense, you can sleep tight knowing that your loved ones are protected. Bushmaster offers everything you need to ensure the safety of you and your family. Our high-quality pistols, carbines, and rifles are extremely reliable, easy to shoot, and include lightweight carbon models that are perfect for women. And with their intimidating looks, all Bushmasters make a serious impression. Any gun will make an intruder think. A Bushmaster will make them think twice.
A friend of mine posted the gun maker’s message on Facebook yesterday. I wouldn’t be surprised if the person who wrote it is a former reporter.
Footnote: And please don’t tell me media coverage will help us reach a tipping point in the struggle to impose stricter gun control laws. That’s like saying politicians are getting ready to become less corrupt.