Thursday, April 19, 2007

Too Much - Too Little - Annie Get Your Gun

I thought Robert Price's column this week to be on the mark...
How much Virginia Tech is too much? Forty-eight hours after the worst campus shooting in U.S. history, I suspect some readers may already be asking that question.
Does media's dedication to Virginia Tech as a news story reflect genuine, widespread shock and anguish? Or is Virginia Tech merely this week's Don Imus?

When CNN, Fox and the rest of them report the same information over and over again, with every new morsel of updated minutia given the breathless "breaking development" treatment, it's easy to take the more pessimistic view.

But TV is just feeding the beast it helped create (and, to an increasing extent, newspapers are too, given the preponderance of "print" web sites and RSS feeds). We've become an insta-news society. The information age has made us ravenous for information -- newer, faster, more and now, now, now.

Then I read this...

NEW YORK A new survey of 1,502 adults released Sunday by Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found that despite the mass appeal of the Internet and cable news since a previous poll in 1989, Americans' knowledge of national affairs has slipped a little. For example, only 69% know that Dick Cheney is vice president, while 74% could identify Dan Quayle in that post in 1989.

Other details are equally eye-opening. Pew judged the levels of knowledgeability (correct answers) among those surveyed and found that those who scored the highest were regular watchers of Comedy Central's The Daily Show and Colbert Report. They tied with regular readers of major newspapers in the top spot -- with 54% of them getting 2 out of 3 questions correct. Watchers of the Lehrer News Hour on PBS followed just behind.

Virtually bringing up the rear were regular watchers of Fox News. Only 1 in 3 could answer 2 out of 3 questions correctly. Fox topped only network morning show viewers.

Don't you just love that last line about Faux News listeners.

And lastly may I leave you with this, along with a small disclaimer.

“Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the people’s liberty teeth keystone… the rifle and the pistol are equally indispensable… more than 99% of them by their silence indicate that they are in safe and sane hands. The very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference. When firearms go, all goes, we need them every hour.” - George Washington

I own one gun (a rifle) and haven't fired it in a long time. It does sit ready with a box of ammo on the shelf. I'm not a gun nut. I'm a true Jeffersonian Bill of Rights nut. There's a reason for the second amendment and when one nut case does something awful it helps to remember the cause is the nut case, not the gun. For people like that, they would probably use something else (like a car bomb or an airplane). The real failure was in the system that let a guy loose that they evaluated as having a problem over a year ago.

So it goes.



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