With this brain-jarring twitter offal from University of Kansas journalism professor David Guth—and if you marvel at the abysmal quality of today’s journalists, there’s a big clue right there—Ethics Alarms launches a new category, the Unethical Tweet of the Week. Clearly, Twitter has a magic ability to make even reasonable public figures and professionals engage in irresponsible, hateful and idiotic discourse, though I seriously doubt that this particular tweet’s author needed much of a shove.
What’s the matter with the tweet? Well, how long have you got? Let’s see:
- It embarrasses his employers, the University of Kansas, not that the school doesn’t deserve it if this is the caliber of mind it permits to teach young men and women. When you can easily be connected to your employer, making a public statement that is vicious, illogical, unethical and cretinous is a breach of duty and trust. The school is currently saying that it defends his right to say what he wants, which is fine. He does not have a right to make every sane graduate want to turn in his degree, but academic freedom protects him where the First Amendment might not.
- It is incompetent and reckless in its disregard of facts. All indications are that the Navy Yard shooter began his rampage with a hunting shotgun, which no current proposed legislation would have prevented him from owning. The only way one can blame the NRA for the tragedy is if one holds it responsible for the Second Amendment not being repealed, which is pure ignorance.*
- It adopts the absurd, if popular, concept that conflicts of interest are good, and lead to good decisions and policy. The opposite is true. Those who have loved ones who are the victims of gun violence are the last people who should be involved in gun policy deliberations. They are driven by bias and emotion….just like Guth.
- The tweet adopts the premise of guilt by association in its ugliest and most brutal form. He is angry at NRA members, so he calls for their children to be murdered.
- It embraces vengeance and violence as desirable and socially acceptable. They aren’t.
- This is mindless hate, uncivil and unthinking, that only makes rational debate more difficult.
- The tweet undermines his own position, and thus the position of more responsible gun control advocates who put forward responsible and reasonable arguments. The preponderance of vicious hysterics and hateful ignoramuses on the anti-gun side only makes the likelihood of their cause prevailing less likely, as it alienates moderates—me, for example—who are open to being convinced. I don’t want to be on any team that has jerks like Guth and Piers Morgan as members, and I can’t imagine why anyone would. The best thing these bitter fools could do for the cause of gun regulations is to shut up.
On the plus side, it’s an excellent example of an unethical tweet.
So that’s something.
* Note: In the original version of this post, the word “not” was inexplicably omitted from this sentence. Well, there is an explanation—I don’t type well, and my proofreading stinks. I am very sorry.