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Mass murderers and the medis

Original post made by Walter_E_Wallis on Dec 9, 2007

My first lesson with a firearm, I was impressed with the fact that I was absolutely responsible for the consequences when a gun in my control fired. There was no such thing as out of sight, out of mind or "I shot an arrow in the air..." or not even "oops".
Last week, in the aftermath of the Omaha mall shootings, an executive of a major news service, asked if he felt any concern about the copy-cat nature of the crime, conceded that while copy-cat was a possibility, there was absolutely no way that coverage of such incidents would be changed. The shooter wanted notoriety, he got it. His picture, the body count, his note all made front page prime time. What if there was a gentleman's agreement that names, pictures and messages of these domestic terrorists were not made public. What if the converge were limited to "Some nut shot up the mall and killed 8 people and then himself.".Names might be names later,
I know if it bleeds it leads, but news routinely is edited for good taste, and it is in poor taste to reward shooters with what they want. Practitioners of the First amendment should practice the restraint Practitioners of the Second Amendment do.

Comments (9)

Posted by Periwinkle, a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 9, 2007 at 7:23 pm

Walter, well said.


Posted by Brit, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 9, 2007 at 8:17 pm

Well said, and I hope the rest of us are not clamouring for more details with hits on all sorts of web sites to get more "details".


Posted by SkepticAl, a resident of Ventura
on Dec 9, 2007 at 11:55 pm

I'll agree with the first part - I once cancelled a subscription to a news magazine that put a full size picture of a young shooter on its cover. There are many instances where I'd like to see the media restrain themselves.

But given that this example involves a total lack of restraint relevant to the Second Ammendment, it seems odd, if not tasteless, to suggest that standard. Of course, this perp was not part of a well-regulated militia, so his right to bear arms is debatable.


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 10, 2007 at 5:49 am

SkepticAl, no one has ever claimed that the Second Amendment granted the right to randomly shoot up the place. No one has presented a case for a subordinant clause reversing the main clause, either. You are taking a shot in the dark.


Posted by SkepticAl, a resident of Ventura
on Dec 10, 2007 at 11:50 am

Classic Walter response...

A. That first "no one has ever claimed..." includes me not having made the claim. What's your point? I just said this guy had no restraint, and the issue here is relevant to the Second Ammendment - you brought it in, not me.

B. Technically, the opening of the amendment does not contain a "subordinant" [sic] clause, but rather, an absolute phrase. However, of course these subordinate elements can restrict the main clause - that's often their purpose! For example, "After you've eaten your vegetables, you will be served some dessert." Or, "Until you've mastered your spelling and grammar, don't tangle with the professor!" But, regarding the amendment itself, you may not agree with the interpretation placing the militia at the forefront, but you lose credibility if you dismiss it that blithely. Mine was hardly a shot in the dark (though I like that pun!). Legal minds sharper than ours have gone back and forth on this for decades.


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 10, 2007 at 1:00 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by perspective, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 10, 2007 at 4:58 pm


And Al, the legal minds that used to think like you are have changed with a reading of the rest of the historical context of the amendment. We must always remember that at the time of the writing, every person was considered a part of the "militia", and therefore every person had the right to bear arms. In other writings, the point was made that a free people need to bear arms to defend themselves against a government gone amuk. Note that the first thing any dictator-to-be does is remove guns from every household.

This will be debated at length, again, in our highest court this summer, and I am greatly looking forward to it. Context and intent are everything, and too much import has been given to that comma, and not enough to the writings and historical realities surrounding the 2nd Amendment.

As written elsewhere on another blog, it is like interpreting Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness to mean Life, Liberty and the pursuit of doing anything that makes me happy (wrong). Happiness was defined as the ability to work at the job you wished and care for yourself and your family, not the ability to party day and night and let others care for you. Such a thought was inconceivable in that time, just as it was inconceivable to any American that any govt would think it had the right to take away his/her guns, the very weapons necessary for food and self-defense.




Posted by SkepticAl, a resident of Ventura
on Dec 10, 2007 at 7:44 pm

Perspective, yes, that was my point. It's open to interpretation. The one Walter would prefer has not been the prevailing one so far. I'm open to the argument either way, though you might guess which way I lean.


Posted by Marie, a resident of Portola Valley
on Dec 28, 2007 at 11:23 pm

With freedom comes responsibility. I wish the media would act resposibly when it comes to covering--and hyping up--this sort of atrocity.


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