CNN’s Town Hall Anti-Gun Agitprop, Part II: “A Really Good Discussion”

Emma Gonzalez (L) confronts Dana Loesch (R)

Part I is here.

When we last left our reflections on CNN’s “town hall” in the wake of the Parkland school shooting, Sheriff Israel, who knew his employees had breached their duty and stayed outside the school after the gun fire was heard, pointed the finger of blame at the National Rifle Association while citing as his authority that “The men and women I’ve worked with for almost 40 years, we know how to keep America safe.”

Will this epic hypocrisy be the moment this episode of open mainstream media political agitprop will be remembered for over time? CNN is already furiously spinning to convince America that its February 21 debacle was not what most objective critics saw it to be from the start, while conservative critics composed the sharpest attacks. David Hirsanyi:

Between all the demonizing, heckling, sophistry, gaslighting, platitudes and emotional appeals, members of the crowd — people who should never be the target of conspiracy theories or ad hominem attacks, but who shouldn’t be exempted from a real debate, either…cheered at the idea of banning “every semiautomatic rifle in America.” Maybe someone will ask them if they support banning every semiautomatic in America, period, since the latter is responsible for the preponderance of gun homicides. One death is too many, after all.

Whatever the case, these young people are about to be hit by a harsh reality, because banning semiautomatic rifles or handguns is not only impractical (there are probably over 5 million AR-15s in circulation alone; and semiautomatics constitute the majority of modern guns) and not only likely unconstitutional (the Supreme Court has found that weapons “in common use by law-abiding citizens” are protected) but, for many millions of Americans who worry about the Second Amendment, also highly undesirable…

…[A] star-studded line-up of liberals, many of whom are funding the activism of Parkland students with big checks, cheered with them. Do they all agree that every semiautomatic rifle in America should be banned? Do they agree that anyone who supports legal semiautomatic rifles has “blood on their hands?” Someone with access should ask.

What we do know is that the entire liberal political class couldn’t stop praising the activism and lack of “cynicism” displayed by these kids (a selective admiration reserved for those who coincidentally align with their positions.) The kids were indeed earnest, even if they were generally uneducated about gun laws, legal process, and the underpinning of the Second Amendment — which is to be expected. Those who use them as political shields, on the other hand, are cynical. Those who put them on TV to participate in a national Airing of Grievances are cynical. Those who point to bodies of victims and argue that every American who refuses to accept the Left’s framing of the issue are the ones that deserve contempt.

…[E]vents like the CNN’s town hall go a long way in convincing gun owners that gun control advocates do have a desire to confiscate their weapons. They can’t confiscate weapons right now, so they support whatever feasible incremental steps are available to inch further toward that goal. We don’t know how this plays out in the long run. In the short run, though, it does nothing to stop the next school shooting.

Chris Cillizza, the ex-Washington Post political blogger who has devolved into a full time partisan hack at CNN, led the network’s self-damning spin campaign by first tweeting during the “town hall”:

For people who take shots at CNN, turn to the channel right now. This town hall is a really, really good discussion about a hugely important topic.

Take it from an ethicist, Chris (look it up): a biased and one-sided audience jeering and booing advocates of one position, including calling one of those advocates “a murderer” while the somnolent moderator does nothing is not a good discussion, nor is it ethical journalism. See, in a “really good discussion,” Chris, both sides in the debate feel they were heard, respected, and given an equal chance to express themselves. One side does not leave the stage feeling they were bullied and mugged. That you and CNN—Jake Tapper also has defended the “town hall” can say—perhaps sincerely—that this was a “really good discussion” tells us that “good” means “advanced the political and policy agenda we support, while abusing the opposition.”

Later, Cillizza posted an article on his CNN blog “The Point” challenging  NRA head Wayne LaPierre’s statement that  “To stop a bad guy with a gun, it takes a good guy with a gun.” Cillizza’s brain-dead point that helps explain how he could believe the “town hall” was a really good discussion:

“The problem for LaPierre is that this latest shooting in Parkland, Florida, isn’t an affirmation of that view. It’s a direct rebuttal. There was a good guy with a gun just outside the school when the bad guy with a gun started murdering people. The good guy with the gun wasn’t the solution. He didn’t stop it.”
Wow. Whether or not one agrees with the NRA that arming more people is the solution to mass shootings, Cillizza’s article is signature significance for a fool. The NRA’s constituency is citizen gun owners, and by “good guy with a gun,” LaPierre means, as the NRA has meant since long before he became the voice of the organization, civilian, non-uniformed, non-law enforcement members of the general public, not police officers. Deputy Scot Peterson, who had a gun and cowered outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as children were being killed, was a police officer, and by no possible measure was he a “good guy with a gun.” He was an incompetent coward with a gun.

Cillizza’s article also displays the gall to lecture readers about how

“There are no simple solutions. There are no foolproof answers. Mass shootings are not entirely preventable…No one thing will solve the problem. Which doesn’t mean we should try nothing. It means we need to smartly look into the various options and the efficacy of them. Simply because there is no foolproof solution that will end mass casualty shootings doesn’t mean we shouldn’t explore options that could lessen their frequency.”
Except that this was not the message of CNN’s “really good discussion.”Here are some examples from the CNN transcript.

  • CNN’s transcript deceptively fails to reflect that fact that in this first exchange, the audience was booing and jeering poor Marco Rubio almost without stop. Nor does it reflect accurately the utter disrespect student questioner Cameron Kasky displayed for Rubio, who is a U.S. Senator, and was willing to subject himself to the smug abuse of children. “Applause” in CNN transcript-speak often means “boos and jeers so loud it’s incredible” and “crosstalk” means  “the students were shouting insults all at once.”

TAPPER: I want to bring in Cameron Kasky, he’s a junior, and he has a question for Senator Rubio. Cameron?

(APPLAUSE)

KASKY: I’m sorry, I know I’m not supposed to do this, but I’m not going to listen to that. Senator Rubio, it’s hard to look at you and not look down a barrel of an AR-15 and not look at Nicholas Cruz, but the point is you’re here and there some people who are not.And I need to ask two things of you. Number one, Chris Grady, can you stand up? This is my friend who is going to the military. I need you to tell him that he’s going to live to make it to serve our country. And then we’ll get to the other one.
RUBIO: Not only are you going to live to serve our country, you and you and all of you have a chance to change our country. Change not just our laws but the way we talk about our laws. So absolutely.
KASKY: Thank you. And guys, look, this isn’t about red and blue. We can’t boo people because they’re democrats and boo people because they’re republicans. Anyone who is willing to show change, no matter where they’re from, anyone who is willing to start to make a difference is somebody we need on our side here. And this is about people who are for making a difference to save us and people who are against it and prefer money. So Senator Rubio, can you tell me right now that you will not accept a single donation from the NRA in the future?
(APPLAUSE)
KASKY: I wish I could have — I wish I could have spoken — I wished I could have asked the NRA lady a question. I would ask her, how she can look in the mirror, considering the fact she has children, but maybe she avoids those.
RUBIO: I’m sorry, what was that?
KASKY: I don’t freaking know.
RUBIO: That’s okay —
TAPPER: The question is about NRA money.
RUBIO: — so number one, the positions I hold on these issues of the second amendment — I’ve held since the day entered office in the city of West Miami as an elected official.
Number two — no. The answer to the question is that people buy into my agenda. And I do support the Second Amendment. And I also support the right of you and everyone here to be able to go to school and be safe.And I do support any law that would keep guns out of the hands of a deranged killer. And that’s why I support the things that I have stood for and fought for —
KASKY: No more — no more NRA money?
RUBIO: — during my time here.
KASKY: More NRA money?
RUBIO: I — there — that is the wrong way to look — first of all, the answer is, people buy into my agenda.
KASKY: You can say no.
RUBIO: Well — I — I — the influence of any group —
KASKY: Guys, come on , be quiet. We’re gonna be here all night.
RUBIO: The influence of these groups comes not from money. The influence comes from the millions of people that agree with the agenda. The millions…
KASKY: See, I see…
RUBIO: — of Americans that support the NRA, and who…
TAPPER: All right.
RUBIO: — support gun rights…
(CROSSTALK)
TAPPER: Sorry, Senator.
Guys.
KASKY: Guys, guys, if you…
(CROSSTALK)
TAPPER: Cameron is having a conversation with Senator Rubio. Let’s let them talk.
RUBIO: But I — I — listen. I respect — you can ask that question, and I can tell you that I — people buy into my agenda. I will answer any questions you guys have about any policy issue…
(CROSSTALK)
KASKY: Right — right — right now — Guys, be quiet, be quiet. You know we’re gonna be here all night.
RUBIO: And I — and I just think that, ultimately, that is not our goal here. Our goal here is to move forward…
KASKY: Wait, so, hold on. So — so right now…
RUBIO: … and prevent — and prevent this from ever happening again.
KASKY: … in the name — in the name of 17 people, you cannot ask the NRA to keep their money out of your campaign?
(APPLAUSE)
RUBIO: I think in the name of 17 people, I can pledge to you that I will support any law that will prevent a killer like this from getting a gun.
KASKY: No, but I’m talking about NRA money.
(OFF-MIKE)
RUBIO: No, no. Because I — matter of fact, I bet we can get people in here to give you exactly as much money as the NRA would have…
(APPLAUSE)
RUBIO: But it’s not — I understand. And you’re right.
KASKY: Can you stand up and put your name to that real quick? OK. Not a lot. But we’ll get it.
(LAUGHTER)
KASKY: I’ll do it…
(CROSSTALK)
RUBIO: You’re — you’re right about that.
KASKY: … you know, we’ve raised quite a bit of money so far.
RUBIO: Well, you’re right about that. There is money on both sides of every issue in America. And where that leaves us in policymaking, is to look at the issues and make a decision based on what we think is right. But ultimately, look. The First Amendment is as — is as important as the Second. And therefore, you have every right to ask that question of me, and I…
(CROSSTALK)
KASKY: Are you gonna be accepting money from the NRA in the future?
RUBIO: I — I’ve always supported…
(APPLAUSE)
RUBIO: — I will always accept the help of anyone who agrees with my agenda. But my agenda is — I’ll give you a perfect example…
(CROSSTALK)
KASKY: Your agenda is protecting us, right?
RUBIO: Well, I’ll give you an example, this very evening. I have told you that I support lifting the age from 18 to 21 of buying a rifle. My understanding, before I walked out here, is that that organization is not in favor of that. But I think that’s the right thing to do.
I don’t know what their position is, on teachers being armed. But I don’t think they should be. Because that’s what I think the right thing to do is.
When I offered my bill to restrict people on the terrorist watch list, or that have been on the list for the last 10 years from purchasing a weapon, they didn’t take a stand. I don’t think they — they certainly didn’t support my — but I offered it. I will do what I think is right. And if people want to support my agenda, they’re welcome to do so. But they buy into my ideas. I don’t buy into theirs.
KASKY: OK. So I knew that was gonna happen. NRA, please just keep the money out of Rubio, OK? If he wants to run again, you guys can…
(CROSSTALK)
TAPPER: Thank you, Cameron. Appreciate it.

Really good discussion, Jake, Chris; I see what you mean! No simplistic nostrums there! We all know it’s all the NRA’s fault. Yes, Tapper appreciates a high-school student haranguing Marco Rubio and equating him to the school shooter.

Of course, CNN made certain that its sole elected Second Amendment advocate on the stage didn’t have the wit or fortitude to put a self-righteous teenager in his place when he was being rude and grandstanding, essentially accusing Rubio of accepting bribes to let kids be murdered. The whole concept of CNN’s show trial was to make the emotional arguments of the traumatized students unassailable. Who was going to have the guts to say to Kasky, “Look, you don’t know what you’re talking about, so be quiet a second and let me explain it to you without your friends drowning me out. But I do urge you to go to some forums with Senators and Congress members who accept donations from pro-abortion groups and make these same arguments. Will you pledge right now to do that, Cameron?” Not Marco Rubio, that’s for sure.

  • Here was a question from a history teacher to Dana Loesch:
“Dana, I viewed the dead body of Carmen Schentrup, our student. I watched her mother and father kiss her goodbye one last time, and close the top of her casket. I looked at Robert, and I hugged him, my dear, dear Robert. And I told you that Carmen, she died a martyr. Our kids have started a revolution. I’m proud, and I’m inspired to be a part of Never Again.
Now, here’s my question. I’m a history teacher. I ask my students to define terms for me. So I’d like you to define something for me, because I’ve wondered about it and I want to know. What is your definition of a “well-regulated” militia, as stated in the Second Amendment? And, using supporting detail, explain to me how —
(LAUGHTER)
(CROSSTALK)
Let me — let me finish. Let me finish. And using supporting detail, explain to me how an 18-year-old with a military rifle is well-regulated. And the world — our country, our nation — is gonna grade your answer.”
I’ll grade the question: F. It’s poisoned up-front by an irrelevant appeal to emotion. The question is nonsensical, and historically ignorant. Part of history is knowing that the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment was about individual rights, not militias. It’s not a serious question, but an argument disguised as one, and, again, grandstanding. Tapper should have intervened. That missing constitutional law expert that CNN was negligent not to have as a resource, should  have intervened. And we have one more example of the kind of teachers we have indoctrinating and mis-educating students.Loesch, like Rubio, chose to be respectful—as in ‘timid and unwilling to attract any criticism’—to a disrespectful and dishonest questioner, leaving the CNN audience unenlightened

  • Then there was this low point—CNN scrubbed the heckling, so to give the flavor of how this played out, I’m going to combine the CNN version with the one published by Newsbusters, as student Emma Gonzalez (above) attacked Loesch:

“Alright. Dana Loesch, I want to know that we will support your two children in the way that  you will not. The shooter at our school obtained weapons that he used on us legally. Do you believe that it should be harder to obtain the semi-automatic and weapons — weapons, and the modifications for these weapons to make them fully automatic like bump stocks?”

Here a competent moderator should have intervened, saying: “I’m going to insist that all questioners phrase their questions to our guests in a far and respectful manner, and if they do not, I’m going to move on to another questioner. This is not how to have a civil discussion. Try again, Emma.”

Of course, Tapper did not, because he appreciates Emma. From Newsbusters:

[Loesch said]  that, on behalf of the NRA, its millions of members do not believe that the gunman or anyone who was crazyshould be able to purchase a gun.

She added that she was “fighting for my kids” and “all of you because I don’t want anyone to ever be in this position again” and, to the rising boos, she correctly emphasized that it’s “not federally required for states to actually report people who are prohibited possessors, crazy people, people who are murderers” to the NICS database.

After enduring a slew of new jeers, Loesch told the NHL arena crowd to “let me answer the question” twice and “[y]ou can shout me down when I’m finished, but let me answer Emma’s question.” It was here that someone shouted, “you’re a murderer!” at the top of their lungs. Once again, Tapper did nothing to call out this behavior.

This was the first of several times when someone in the crowd shouted that Loesch was a murderer, presumably by virtue of her association with the NRA. I don’t know about Chris Cillizza, but in my case I’ve never considered it to be a really good discussion when people were interrupting me by calling me a murderer.

Loesch, meanwhile, was, as usual, incompetent, essentially agreeing with the ignorant and unconstitutional position that emotional illness and mental illness should justify removing citizens’ rights. “Crazy” is a subjective term, and a tiny proportion of the mentally ill are dangerous.

To sum up this fiasco, it is impossible to have a “good discussion” of a complex issue…

…before all the facts are known

….in a rigged, circus atmosphere

….created by a politically biased news organization

….before an audience overwhelmingly favoring one point of view

….containing recently traumatized teens,

….with the guests consisting of an incompetent sheriff trying to cover for his own accountability for a tragedy

….plus two politicians to pandering to the angry mob

…and two incompetent advocates for the unpopular position

…all overseen by a passive and inept moderator.

36 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Childhood and children, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights

36 responses to “CNN’s Town Hall Anti-Gun Agitprop, Part II: “A Really Good Discussion”

  1. Rick M.

    Being a strong anti-gun person who can agree with many of the arguments presented the “TH” was just a setup. A trap. A one-sided and blindsided approach does little.

    • Don’t you think it does positive harm?

      • Inquiring Mind

        For their cause.

        The Wellstone Memorial of 2002 – you need to see that, Jack. It turned what was supposed to be remembering a Senator’s service into a partisan attack.

        Those students… in some ways, I feel sorry for them. In others, I accept that they are enemies who seek to deprive me of my rights for the actions of a madman, the incompetence of the FBI and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, and the cowardice of four Broward County sheriff’s deputies.

      • Rick McNair

        Of course. All it creates is a continued entrechment on the issue. CNN had a great opportunity for responsible journalism and screwed up.

  2. adimagejim

    To me Ethics Alarms has been a place for intelligent people to discuss ethics as they apply to issues of the day. As someone who loathes the conduct, tactics and language of Donald Trump, but sees in his 2016 opponent and her party an intentionally calculated evil, I wanted to see what other thoughtful people had to say on ethics and issues in these very challenging times. For the most part, I have gotten Jack’s money’s worth.

    This morning’s reading leaves me upset and hopeless. There appears to be no civil structure long or strong enough to bridge this chasm.

    Have no idea if this site was intended as a structural element of the figurative bridge described above, but I hope it continues to offer the opportunity of hope to the hopeless.

    • I wish I could understand what you are saying. Are you asking that in the context of discussions of ethical behavior and choices, which is the focus of the Blog, that people who discuss these things only arrive at non-pessimistic conclusions?

      I am forced to focus on certain elements of what you write though I fear you will call this ‘parsing’. While I certainly understand what you say by ‘thoughtful people’, I think that what you mean is people who are qualified to offer accurate, realistic and helpful analysis. You might also refer to a certain class of person within American society: the administrative class, the professional class. And you are asking of tat class and the people who make it up to explain to you ‘what is going on’. While I grant that any person and any people can discuss ethics and ethical behavior it seems to me fair to say that in-depth political analysis of the present is in another category. Yet this blog is also one that engages in analysis of the political situation, indeed in the context of the entire history of the nation, while it explores ethics.

      ‘Hope to the hopeless’? This also interests me quite a bit, because the individual, spiritually, has to orient themselves within ‘reality’ in a truthful and realistic way. All hope stands open to the individual who sees clearly, and no hope is possible for one who is enveloped in shadows.

      Personally, my whole purpose is to shed light, not to obfuscate, and certainly not to lie nor believe comforting lies. (And my ethic in this sense is part-and-parcel of my religious and spiritual position).

      • Emily

        I wish I could understand what you are saying. Are you asking that in the context of discussions of ethical behavior and choices, which is the focus of the Blog, that people who discuss these things only arrive at non-pessimistic conclusions?

        I believe what they’re saying (because I second their comment, and this is what I think) is that people here (Jack and the commentors) are capable of discussing issues in a way that acknowledges competing ethical principles, and that promotes critical thought and respect for multiple opinions.

        The hopelessness comes from looking at this Town Hall Meeting (and also probably Facebook, Twitter, and the mainstream media) where those things seem to be ignored or activly discouraged. That leaves our government in the hands of people who are fighting against intellectual honesty, ignorant or dismissive of other perspectives, and drawing conclusions based on emotion and propaganda that they won’t allow to be challanged. It’s a recipe for civil war at best and tyranny at worst.

        But Jack and the commenters here are among the small pockets of intelligence and sanity that exist around the internet and prove that there is another way, and other people are interested in it. That offers some hope: maybe there are more of us. Maybe someone here will get through to other people, or be elected somewhere, or write a book, and this will spread. Maybe we can get enough people to pull back before we go over the edge.

        The act of having these discussions is a non-pessimistic conclusion.

        …and if not, at least we have some intelligent analysis of the fall.

        • Other Bill

          [Applause.]

        • Nicely put. I have 128 questions …

          “The hopelessness comes from looking at this Town Hall Meeting (and also probably Facebook, Twitter, and the mainstream media) where those things seem to be ignored or activly discouraged. That leaves our government in the hands of people who are fighting against intellectual honesty, ignorant or dismissive of other perspectives, and drawing conclusions based on emotion and propaganda that they won’t allow to be challanged. It’s a recipe for civil war at best and tyranny at worst.

          “But Jack and the commenters here are among the small pockets of intelligence and sanity that exist around the internet and prove that there is another way, and other people are interested in it. That offers some hope: maybe there are more of us. Maybe someone here will get through to other people, or be elected somewhere, or write a book, and this will spread. Maybe we can get enough people to pull back before we go over the edge.”

          • Emily

            “I have 128 questions …”

            Man, when I was a kid you only got 20. Okay, but we’re going to need a really long car ride…

        • adimagejim

          Thanks for the proper translation. You’ve got where I am exactly right.

  3. Arthur in Maine

    Deputy Scot Peterson, who had a gun and cowered outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as children were being killed, was a police officer, and by no possible measure was he a “good guy with a gun.” He was an incompetent coward with a gun.

    Although things certainly appear that way, I think we should reserve judgment on that accusation. CNN (“even a blind pig finds an acorn once in a while,” as a wise old Vermonter once told me) is currently running a story that indicates that there may have been as many as FOUR Broward County Sheriff’s deputies holding positions outside the school. See: https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/23/politics/parkland-school-shooting-broward-deputies/index.html

    If that’s indeed the case, we may not be talking about an incompetent coward with a gun and instead about an incompetent command decision that was in direct contravention of current law enforcement protocols specific to active shooters.

    Those protocols developed in the aftermath of Columbine, after it was determined that the protocol previously in place – hold position and wait for SWAT – resulted in far more carnage than would have resulted had LEOs entered the building and engaged the shooter(s).

  4. adimagejim

    The government entities claiming to know how to protect us, clearly do not or will not. How does limiting or removing our ability to protect ourselves make any of the law abiding safer? If I am remembering correctly, the current statistics indicate as overall gun ownership has risen, overall gun violence has diminished.

    • There is a darker analysis that is making the rounds. It is that these events, encouraged, provoked, or engineered, have been done so rationally in order to create a situation in which the population itself voluntarily opts to surrender its constitutional rights. This darker analysis stems from an interpretation of the events of 9/11 where a certain new doctrine was enunciated and very real geo-political choices were made by rational actors.

      That is, the willing surrender of the very rights that make a people free. This is the culmination of a long causal chain.

      Excessively dark? An exaggeration? That would have to be decided in the course of the long analysis required to *see the present* and to see what is going on. And who shall do that work? The intellectual class of America? And who among them?

      • adimagejim

        The conspiracies to undermine human freedom I can see are bad enough. Those I can’t see, but you, apparently, can, are, to this point, beyond my comprehension.

        In the end, I’m not sure what any grand global manipulators hope to gain if they are already powerful enough to control so much. In short, what’s their objective if they already have this level of power and control?

        • What are the conspiracies that you see that undermine human freedom?

          • adimagejim

            Not much for games here. Why don’t you just tell us, what is it you see going on? What do you believe we should know that you obviously believe we don’t?

            • What I notice about what you have just written is that it, in its way, is a game. And you are not playing in good faith. And also that you are employing this bizarre ‘we’ as if you are the spokesperson. It is part of a game of isolating someone from your ‘mob’. Read what I write to get a sense of what I imagine to be going on. I don’t hide much of anything.

              If you cannot make a statement and stand on your own two feet doing it, then don’t. I understand your hesitation.

              You said ‘The conspiracies that undermine human freedom I can see are bad enough’ and I asked for some explanation. To me it seems quite fair to ask what you mean.

  5. Steve-O-in-NJ

    In the last few days I have seen floods of emotional, hateful, smug, and bitter posts from the anti-2nd Amendment side, ranging from housewives who wouldn’t know a revolver from a semi-automatic to lawyers who should and in some cases do know better. We’re now also seeing a lot of companies divest from the NRA as if it were apartheid South Africa and journalists build this anti-gun anger up like it’s the second coming of the civil rights movement.

    In the meantime it’s come to light that the warning signs were not just there, but flashed like a laser to the appropriate authorities that the shooter was just outside the door of becoming a danger to others, maybe even at the door and lifting the latch. Neither the authorities nor Cruz’ family took decisive action to pull him back from the door or get him the help he needed. It’s also come to light now that the officer charged with keeping the kids at the school safe committed what in a military setting would be called cowardice in the face of the enemy, and not one, not two, but three other responding officers held back while the shooter did his bloody work, and waited for the local police to lead the charge. We’ll never know how many of the 17 deaths they could have prevented, but not to even try was unconscionable. It’s grounds not to just fire those officers, but for the sheriff himself to be forced into resignation by whoever has that power. It is possibly grounds for criminal charges falling under misconduct in public office (which includes failure to do one’s sworn duty), which, at least in NJ, is a second degree crime that can land you in prison for ten years with a seven year period of parole ineligibility.

    As far as I can tell, this horrible crime was a case of a mentally unhealthy individual’s family trying to push responsibility away, and law enforcement at several levels utterly failing to do their jobs despite being told repeatedly what was going on and where it was headed if they didn’t act to stop it. I don’t pretend that law enforcement isn’t plenty busy as it stands, but their job is as much to prevent crimes from happening as it is to take a report and make a good faith effort to apprehend the perpetrator after the fact. The key to prevention is information, knowing when the bank robbery is supposed to go down, what the local mob boss is planning, which gangs are close to declaring a rumble. Occasionally things will take the authorities by surprise, but in this case there’s no excuse. The authorities knew what was going on. Maybe they claim they had too much else going on. Maybe they will claim none of this sounded like a credible or imminent threat. The bottom line is that the failure to process, analyze and act on the information here left a huge opening for exactly what happened here.

    What is more, when Cruz moved through this huge opening and started cutting down his erstwhile classmates like wheat before the reaper, the law enforcement that WAS there didn’t take decisive action, in fact didn’t take ANY action until it was far too late for the victims. The perpetrator here was one young guy with one rifle. There was never any evidence or anything to show there was more than one shooter. There was no convincing reason for one officer to remain outside the school altogether when that was his area of responsibility, and it would be a hard sell to say that he was afraid that all going in would do would be to get himself killed too. There is no reason at all for action not to be taken when other officers arrived who could provide cover and supporting fire. This was not a battle with a gang or platoon of terrorists, nor was it a hostage situation. It was a situation in which the one goal should have been to stop, by any means necessary, ongoing murder by one person who wanted nothing other than to take as many lives as he could. The tactics used here were an utter failure.

    Here’s the strange thing, though. When James Hodgkinson cut loose last June, no one said boo about mental health or gun availability or anything like that, unless it was to sneeringly say the GOP congressmen who were almost massacred were responsible for their own fate. When William Spengler deliberately set a fire in West Webster on Christmas Eve so that he could lie in wait and kill as many of the first responders as he could, the response was muted, and no one said much about closing loopholes on straw purchases or asked what the hell a man who had already killed someone with a hammer was doing walking around free. But hey, that was a shooting in a state with a Democratic governor who was presumably already doing all he could. As far as I can tell, though, the NRA was not involved in any of these incidents, and none of the actual shooters belonged. In fact no mass shooter in the past three decades has ever been identified as an NRA or Tea Party member, or even a Republican.

    Nonetheless, the NRA and the Republican party are being cast as the villains, as fully responsible for this crime as if they were the ones who pulled the trigger, and it seems to be working to some degree. Perhaps the Democratic Party and others on the left should go into the stage magic business. Stage magic, after all, is about making the audience see what you want them to see and directing their attention where you want it to go. The magic wand is the oldest misdirection device of them all, to lead the eyes of the audience to the tapped hat or the pattern it weaves in the air, away from whatever else may be going on, even as near as the opposite hand. I submit that bloody bodies and grieving relatives are one hundred times more effective misdirection devices than any ebony rod, because you can’t look away from them easily and they lead the heart as well as the eyes. He whose heart isn’t moved by hearing how one student had plans with her boyfriend whose hand went limp in hers or how grieving parents said goodbye to their son for the last time has no heart, but there is no way anyone with a heart can say that heart isn’t moved so far as to trash the Bill of Rights without looking like he has none anyway.

    Marco Rubio was a fool to get involved in this discussion. At least Michelle Bachmann had enough sense to brush off a debate challenge from a full-of-herself 16yo. Adult politicians debating with kids have nothing to gain and everything to lose. Adult politicians trying to debate in good faith with emotional kids who have probably been coached might as well have walked up and put their hands in the wolf’s mouth. It’s a lose-lose situation, and he’s just given the other side more ammunition to make him look foolish or heartless.

    The pro-2nd-Amendment types’ best bet is to ride this out. They successfully rode out Sandy Hook and every other mass shooting, they will ride this one out. Eventually the dead are laid to rest and the ranting kids need to go back to class and texting and snapchatting, and the news cycle will have to move on. It worked for Bill Clinton and for Obama, just do enough to skate through today’s news cycle and this year’s election cycle and let the problem burn hot, burn fast, and burn out. Sounds heartless, but it’s the best bet when the other side is determined to destroy you and won’t fight fair.

  6. From the “You Gotta Be Effin’ Kidding Me!” files:

    Law blogger and self-anointed “online provocateur” Elie Mystal:

    “If classroom teachers are armed, they’ll shoot their black students”

    https://www.thecollegefix.com/post/42304/

    • Aleksei

      The classic trap of “we can’t have regular people have guns” countered by the usual “police are racist”. And with that logic, everybody is racist, and if black people shoot each other, it’s because of disparate effects, systemic racism, you know the rest. Can’t these people just come out say what they truly believe, that black people have no agency, so that the “white liberal savior” will guide them towards salvation in the most paternalistic and patronizing fashion possible, without, of course, coming off as racist. These people are silly. I believe that they are sincere in their beliefs and argue on good faith, which is scary. Nothing short of Black Panther’s Wakanda will assuage them. These are just the crazy years.

  7. Other Bill

    In the age of policy being debated by means of scripted “reality” television, I’m beginning to think it’s terribly apt that the electorate chose a reality TV guy as president. Truly fighting fire with fire.

    Then there’s this apologia for biased journalism:

    https://newrepublic.com/article/146895/learning-trust

    • Other Bill

      I think the electorate was tired of presidents who are either worshiped by the media (Democratic presidents) or treated as if they’re hapless (by nature) pinatas (Republican presidents) by the media.

  8. Mrs. Q

    I’m trying to gain more insight into the other concepts on this blog so I can apply them to posts like this so my question is:

    Was CNN’s town hall a good example of utilitarianism/consequentialism gone off the rails by their to attempt to usher in the great “Never Again”?

    It seems CNN determined that their conduct was acceptable because the ends would justify such weirdly unprofessional and conspiratorial behavior including:

    -Selecting panelists targeted for ridicule from the start (my understanding is Loesch didn’t know it would be all teens asking questions) while others got to preach to the choir
    -Using emotional teens and egging them on to be even more emotional for the camera while being rude to panelists
    -Denying the audience at home a thoughtful civic debate

    Thanks

    • Your “including” could include:

      *being accused of trying to plant questions with Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Juniors Colton Haab & Ariana Klein.

      Makes one wonder what punishment/shunning these two will endure for straying from the narrative.

  9. So, in the last post, Jack talked about the CNN denial about the event being scripted, and the student who said it was, and then in this post he made the point that Tapper should have told the kids to ask questions in a fair manner.

    I’m just wondering what to think about the kid who read her question off her cell phone to the wrong person?

    One of the students ended up asking this to Senator Bill Nelson who is a Democrat, from Florida”

    “I had a question for Ms. Loesch but she’s not here yet, so, for her and the NRA, which she’s probably watching, and all of you puppet politicians that they are backing: was the the blood of my classmates and my teachers worth your blood money?”

    Tapper immediately threw the question out, saying:

    “Senator Nelson, you don’t have to answer that question, let’s move on to the next question.”

    The student, outraged, came up with:

    “Excuse me? I’m a student. I should –”

    Because of course she did. Her studentness made that question to a person who might not even have taken NRA money (I’m almost certain he hasn’t…. D-Fla and all.) So Tapper, in maybe his only real bit of moderation that night, interrupted:

    “I understand that, but your question, I thought you were going to ask Senator Nelson a question. Your question sounds like you want to ask Dana Loesch a question in the next segment. And I’m happy to do that, if you want.”

    I don’t think the question is “Was the event scripted?” so much as the question is “to what degree was the event scripted?”

    Let’s pull back the curtain for a moment here. The kids were seated in the order they were before the guests came on stage, the microphone was passed in order of the way they were seated, and aside from that one blunder, the kids asked their questions to the right people. What I take from this is at the very least, the students had to say in advance which people they had questions for. The one person out of order? Getting that many teenagers to do something concerted with little preparation is like herding kittens. Something went wrong.

    Basically every student read off a device… And I can’t blame them for that, I mean, if I were going to be talking to elected officials when i was 17, I might have made notes too. But the idea that these kids were left to their own devices is unsupportable in the face of the Haab emails. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2018/02/23/scripted-controversy-cnn-releases-emails-of-correspondence-with-florida-student/?utm_term=.c8a2ee0b2139 has copies). Now, I can’t tell whether the content of the question Stevenson said Haab had to ask was the product of Haab’s own words or not, but Stevenson was obviously of the opinion that she was to know what the question was in advance… And of the four or five questions Haab supplied, she picked the one she told him to use.

    That’s a script…. It doesn’t matter particularly who the author was, or to what degree it was edited… It was scripted. No one at that event, particularly Jake Tapper, should have been surprised by anything. Tapper didn’t condone the unfair questions on the fly, they were vetted in advance.

    There’s no doubt in my mind that those questions could be the products of indoctrinated and traumatized young people…. But CNN OK’d it all. And what the heck does that say about them? Not that their moderator failed to moderate, but that the questions were vetted and approved by producers?

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