No, you don’t have to spot the mistake, now. That’s too easy. The single, embarrassing mistake in this ad created for Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun group Everytown For Gun Safety is so obvious I’m pretty sure there are 5th graders who could spot it. A bullet doesn’t come out of the barrel with its casing. There would be no way to propel such a projectile. This ad couldn’t have been created or approved by anyone who ever fired a gun, saw one fired or watched a Western, war movie or action flick.
The unethical conduct represented by the ad, however, are more numerous, though equally unforgivable:
- It is incompetent and lazy. No one connected with the ad and its graphics bothered to do the minimum due diligence necessary to find out what a bullet coming out of a muzzle looks like, or how guns work.
- It is untrue. Actually, anyone is faster than that bullet, which would drop harmlessly to the ground.
- It negligently misinforms the public, passing along the ignorant misconceptions of the group and its hired artist to people who know as little as they do.
- The ad is irresponsible advocacy. Those thumping for gun controls and ownership restrictions don’t have to be marksmen or firearms experts, but they are obligated to approach the issue at more than a purely visceral, emotional level—and since Sandy Hook, that has been the only level the anti-gun forces have been capable of. Utter disregard for the facts and details have poisoned the debate, and guaranteed a stand-off. It is impossible to respect the arguments of a group that revels in its own lack of interest in the subject matter beyond “Guns bad!”
- It undermines the group’s own cause, and betrays the trust and loyalty of contributors, members and allies. The ad makes gun control activists look like silly, unserious fools….which, sadly, a critical mass of them are.
- The ad invites distraction by opponents. Rather than forcing gun advocates to defend easy access to guns, the ad puts anti-gun forces on the defensive, and shifts the debate to “How can you advocate policy about something you know nothing about, and aren’t willing to make the effort to learn about?”
- It is an insult to the public, which the group insults by presuming that a factually incorrect graphic will escape their notice.
- It is arrogant. The ad irresponsibly trivializes the complexity of gun control debate, declaring that the subject isn’t important enough or difficult enough to devote a minimum of research to make a powerful argument that is grounded in fact. Proof of this is in the fact that despite the rampant and deserved ridicule the ad has attracted, it is still proudly posted on the group’s Facebook page.*
How did you do?
*Update 1: The Facebook page now seems to be gone.
Update 2: There is a revealing thread about this ad on the Democratic Underground (someone eventually cites Ethics Alarms), notable for the excuses and rationalizations offered to minimize the significance of the mistake. Most adopt the Hillary Clinton approach: “What difference does it make?”