Update On The Uvalde Massacre Extension Of The Sandy Hook Ethics Train Wreck, Part 5: The “Good Public Policy Comes From Creating Emotional Hysteria” Theory

“For a culture so steeped in violence, we spend a lot of time preventing anyone from actually seeing that violence,” says an Ethics Dunce quoted with reverence in the New York Times essay, “From Sandy Hook to Uvalde, the Violent Images Never Seen” “Something else is going on here, and I’m not sure it’s just that we’re trying to be sensitive.” Hmmm, what could that ‘something else’ be? It’s a mystery!

It’s ethics, you blithering fool. The Dunce is Nina Berman, a documentary photographer, filmmaker and Columbia journalism professor. See that least part? Is it any wonder that journalists are now our least ethical professionals? Jelani Cobb, incoming dean of the Columbia University School of Journalism, is also quoted as saying, “I’m not at all certain that it’s ethical or right to display these images in this way.”

Not certain? The Times piece is about the hesitance to use gory pictures of children with half their faces blown away during school shootings in news reports. “Frustrated Americans ask whether the release of graphic photos of gun violence would lead to better policy,” the Times says. This is a classic example of journalism malpractice. By “better” the Times doesn’t actually mean “better” in the sense of well-considered policies balancing interests and outcomes while applying sound and objective analysis of all relevant facts. “Better” means “the policies that anti-gun activists like our leadership and staff support, because those are the ‘good’ policies and policies that support Second Amendment rights are ‘bad’ policies.”

The activists who want anti-gun policies, whether they work or not, whether they make sense or not, whether they are constitutional or not and whether they would have stopped the particular mass shooting being exploited by the Left as “a crisis that should be let go to waste” or not, want gory photos of dead children published because they appeal to emotion over rationality, and thus will make it easier to get their agenda adopted.

There’s a reason why such photos are usually not allowed into evidence in murder trials. Judges tend to rule that they are prejudicial, appealing to jurors’ emotions and making a fair consideration of the evidence more difficult. Sure, prosecutors think such photos lead to “good verdicts” because a good verdict to them is a guilty verdict.

A child who is shot dead with a bullet through the heart dies just as quickly as a child whose head is blown half off. What matters is the child’s death, not the details of the death. What is the useful policy information conveyed by a gory photo? “Oh, 19 children killed is bad, but now that I know how awful the bodies looked, I understand that it’s really bad, and we have to stop it!”

The Times article and its various cherry-picked “experts” (they didn’t interview me for some reason) never articulates the difference between Sandy Hook/Parkland/Uvalde graphic photos and, for example, photos of dismembered fetuses in late-term abortions, which the news media also won’t let readers see. The latter actually do convey important information necessary for fair and objective policy considerations. Late-term fetuses are indistinguishable from babies, and dismembered late-term fetuses look exactly like butchered babies. This has a tendency to make the pro-abortion “Nah, the only human being involved in choice to have an abortion is the mother” fiction untenable. Much of the public has been conditioned to ignore what abortion is. No such confusion exists regarding murdered children. Instead, the Times uses graphic photos of slaves,

…which do convey the brutality of the practice, for the education of those who think of slavery as well-cared for servants happily picking cotton in the fields. Slavery is not a rational analogue to gun ownership. Those scars are what slavery was. Representing bloody bodies of children as the reality of gun rights is not illuminating, it is a distortion.

The Times essay is nothing better than another unethical tactic in the current effort to inflame public emotion and warp the policy-making process for the benefit of the anti-Second Amendment forces.

13 thoughts on “Update On The Uvalde Massacre Extension Of The Sandy Hook Ethics Train Wreck, Part 5: The “Good Public Policy Comes From Creating Emotional Hysteria” Theory

  1. Jack, I think your comments regarding shooting photos vs photos of aborted fetuses are very appropriate. I wish you…someone…ANYONE…could be given opportunity to ask that question of someone like Time or Newsweek or CNN. I wish someone…ANYONE…outside of a conservative news source would have the ethics and courage to ask.

  2. Waiting for answers:
    1. 18 yr old shooter living with grandparents reportedly had no driver’s license. What ID did he use to buy the guns?
    2. He was “reportedly” working min wage jobs. Where did he come up with the thousands necessary to buy 2 AR-15 (type) rifles, a pistol, expensive ammo, extra magazines, a tactical vest?
    3. Where did he learn/who trained him to fire the weapons?
    When will these questions be addressed and by whom?

    • 1. It might depend some on the state, but driver’s license isn’t the only valid ID. Hunting license, fishing license, voter registration, lease paperwork, utility bill, phone bill…those are some potential valid forms of ID.
      2. It doesn’t really matter since he was of legal age with no criminal record.
      3. He could have taught himself, had friends teach him, gone to a local range and received assistance, taken a class, watched videos on YouTube,…

  3. I’ll be happy when the news media get tired of being in “all gun control propaganda all the time” mode, and get back to actually reporting the news. I’m sure it will be any week now.

  4. Let’s get something correct in the debate about regulation of firearms. Heller, often cited, does NOT preclude regulation. In fact, Justice Scalia’s (certainly not a left-wing progressive, rather a proponent of originalism) opinion suggests the contrary. Toward the end of the Heller opinion, he states “the problem of handgun violence in this country” is real and the government has “a variety of tools for combating that problem, including some measures regulating handguns.” The Constitutional requirement of Heller is that the government may not disarm citizens in their homes. Justice Scalia recognized regulations of several types as presumptively lawful: “ conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms,” bans on carrying weapons in “sensitive places,” and he noted the “historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’” See (for example) the FDR era laws that restricted guns presumed to be the type used in mob violence. I do not like to see or hear the emotional “arguments” for doing away with the the Second Amendment; and I dislike just as much the arguments claiming the Supreme Court has definitively ruled that there cannot be restrictions. (The second argument is used by advocates from both sides…those proposing restrictions arguing that the Supreme Court ruling is the reason the Second Amendment must be repealed; and those claiming that there can be no regulation of gun rights. As my wife would say: Hooey).

    • Comment of the Day, Michael. Heller’s importance was that it finally settled the “militia” question, and that there was still a right to bear arms that had to be treated by the government with proper deference. I’ve been reading mockery of Joe Biden for saying the Second is “not absolute.” That’s Trump-level imprecision of language: there is absolutely a right to bear arms that Congress cannot “infringe,” but no absolute right to bear any and all arms in any and all places and circumstances.

    • To say the 2nd Amendment is not absolute is both true and totally unilluminating, just as when somebody opines that “Freedom of speech is not absolute” by way of justifying whatever hare-brained restriction they just imagined.

      No serious legal thinker ever believed the 2nd Amendment to be absolute, but the fact it is a right
      – and not merely the grace and beneficence of the State – means that it is up to those who would impose restrictions to justify them.

        • Are you asking me? I’m no expert on 8th Amendment jurisprudence, but I’ll give it my best shot.

          Whether the prohibition on Cruel and Unusual Punishment is “absolute” has a lot to do with how you define terms. It certainly does not prohibit all punishment, nor even capital punishment, even if the infliction of death causes pain. In Becklew v Precythe, Gorsuch wrote:

          “The Eighth Amendment forbids ‘cruel and unusual’ methods of capital punishment but does not guarantee a prisoner a painless death,”

          Now, you may choose to interpret this as meaning that the prohibition on “Cruel and Unusual” punishment is absolute and the method of execution simply doesn’t meet the definition. But the end result is the same, in that the protections provided by the amendment are not unlimited in their scope.

          • I heard an argument once that since the amendment prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment” that punishment could be either cruel or unusual, but not both.

  5. And another thing…I hear the constant derisive references to the “NRA and the gun lobby” and I just shake my head and mutter. I have been an NRA Life member since I was 15 years old (Thanks to my Uncle Charles, a great hunter and rifleman). They haven’t got any money from me for a long time, and I have witnessed with sadness its sorry decline from America’s premier shooting sports organization into the racket it has become, with the membership apparently unable to impose a turnaround. I predict the NRA’s days are numbered, at least in its current form. The NRA is today far from the most effective pro-gun organization extant, and just off the top of my head I can name The Second Amendment Foundation, Gun Owners of America, Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, National Association for Gun Rights, Firearms Policy Coalition and Students for Concealed Carry as better, more active advocates for gun rights than the NRA. Most importantly, the “gun lobby” is me. It is the 900 members of my local gun club (with a waiting list of nearly 400). It is the members of a local pistol-shooting league and the skeet club on the other side of town. It is most of the nearly 700,000 licensed hunters in my state and over 15 million licensed hunters nationwide, who are past believing that there are any limits to which the left will go to disarm the populace. Banning “assault weapons” today will lead to banning all semiauto rifles -even your grandpa’s .22 rimfire), then scoped hunting rifles (can’t have any weapons capable of dealing death from a different zip code), then those 9mm pistols that Biden says can blow a person’s lung out of their body (I’ve got to get some of those rounds), then repeating rifles of any kind (bolt and lever action) and on and on until we are disarmed and unable to resist. Most members of the “gun lobby” that I know have drawn a metaphorical line in the sand: If the federal government criminalizes the possession of any firearm now legal, they will not comply. I predict this will not end well for the gun-confiscators.

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