American Elephants

Truth and Lying: Moral Choices In Public Life. by The Elephant's Child

The New York Times noted that the Washington Post wrote on Wednesday “that the San Bernardino shooting was the second mass shooting today and the 355th this year.” MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, the New York Times and other Lefty websites reported the same or similar statistics. The church in Charleston, a college classroom in Oregon and a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado but — what were the other 352 shootings? This is how information is communicated on the Left. Everybody quotes the same article, accepts it as holy writ, and passes it on. That’s why they all say the same thing in the same words.

There is an official definition for “mass shooting” but everybody ignores it when it is convenient to do so. The Left is clear as to the nature of the problem. It is guns —”Weapons of War” as designated by the New York Times. No “thoughts and prayers,” and never mind the victims and the injured, the news must be turned to one of the Left’s favorite talking points. This is just ugly.

For the past decade, the F.B.I has defined a mass shooting as a single attack in which four or more victims were killed. (In 2013 President Obama lowered that threshold to three victims killed). Mother Jones compiled a database, which they did not include, eliminating gang fights and late-night shootings on a city streets, and those that stemmed from robbery or domestic abuse, and refers those interested to a list compiled by a forum supporting gun control.  Mother Jones kinda-sorta suggested that there was something different about San Bernardino  but was quite unwilling to mention anything related to terrorism.

National Review took up the same question, explained it in a straightforward way, a metric based on the Investigative Assistance for Violent Crimes Act of 2012, and the Congressional Research Service, and concluded that conflating the rarer incidents like Aurora and Newtown, with “familicides” or shootings attributable to underlying criminal activity or commonplace circumstances are almost twice as common as “mass public shootings.” There’s a lot of political convenience going on here. They ended up with an average of about 21 mass shootings annually between 1991 and 2013.

Charles C.W. Cooke took on the case of school shootings and the claimed 74 shootings since Newtown, and explained that they are lying too. Everytown identifies a school shooting as any instance in which a firearm was discharged within a school building or on school grounds, sourced to multiple news reports per incident. Therefore, the data isn’t limited to mass shootings like Newtown—it includes assaults, homicides, suicides and even accidental shootings. Of the shootings, 35 took place at a college or university, while 39 took place in K-12 schools.

We have come to expect politicians to lie to us as there has been so much of it, from “If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor” fight on down to the present. That probably has a lot to do with public anger, but how it can lead to the rise of Donald Trump shows that we’re just as gullible as ever.

I can forgive the public. We are naturally gullible, expecting to be told the truth. Hard-nosed cynicism is not the best of companions. I am not so forgiving of the media, and the Journalism schools should be ashamed of themselves.

Yet the casual approach of professionals is wholly out of joint with the view taken by those who have to cope with the consequences of deception. For them, to be given false information about important choices in their lives is to be rendered powerless. For them their very autonomy may be at stake.¹

¹ Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life: Sissela Bok, New York, 1978

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