Orlando and NPR

What a week for gun politics. During the several days since an individual claiming allegiance to DAESH, aka IS, murdered forty-nine club goers in an Orlando gay bar, you can hardly ingest any media without some mention. Politicians who never hesitated before approving the misguided Iraq invasion, suddenly discovered in gun control an issue worth filibustering over. Conscious people who previously worried about excesses of government profiling, abruptly called for constitutional rights of citizens to be violated simply over suspicions.

Terrorism, Gay Rights Toxic Masculinity and Gun Control. A more perfect confluence of polarizing issues could hardly be imagined. These are all subjects I possess many opinions on, but we have plenty of time later.

For the moment, I simply became astonished last Thursday while driving my truck around Portland and listening to NPR. My company had a lot of non-profit housing disasters that afternoon so I don’t remember exactly which show it was, but two news commentators were discussing a potential cultural shift in the wake of Orlando and they mused about whether America was ready for a tipping point, such as with cigarettes or climate change.

In other words, years ago when a story aired on these topics, most reputable news outlets felt compelled to include a countering statement from tobacco industry reps or climate change deniers. Was it yet time when journalists could finally present stories about firearms and not bother with even a pretense of objectivity? This is worrying, since already so much of the media picture regarding gun politics is painfully inaccurate. I could write a whole book on the skewed statements, twisted logic and flat out lies broadcast just by NPR in the last several days. That’s the important difference:

Cigarettes are tremendously harmful and most people saying otherwise work for tobacco corporations.

The polar icecaps are melting and most people saying otherwise work for carbon producing industries.

By contrast, gun politics are complicated and most people saying so aren’t employed by arms manufacturers.

There are tremendously articulate individuals from all backgrounds with perfectly legitimate justifications for owning firearms, including semi-auto rifles like the kind used in Orlando. Of course, ordinarily such voices are simply ignored by the media, in favor of tone deaf declarations from the NRA or similar right wing sources. Even so, it was incredible hearing commentators openly express hope that they could push a particular agenda and shut out the other side on such a significant social issue. There is so much to be learned from sharing information, it’s a sad day when even listening to another perspective become unacceptable.

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