Opinions

Manipulation in Media

A couple weeks ago America was rocked by yet another mass shooting. Twelve lives were lost at a Navy facility in Washington. The victims had not yet been mourned and the gunfire was practically echoing when another tragedy began. Shameless opportunists in both Congress and the media exploited the emotional shock inflicted by the shooting to push their political agendas.

The aftermath of a tragedy should be a solemn time, rather than a political opportunity. Respect for both the victims and their families should be the highest priority during their time of grief. People need time to mourn their losses, and thus, this period should be treated with the utmost sensitivity. To capitalize upon people’s emotions during such a time is disrespectful, and quite cruel.

Fiery rhetoric inevitably flies in the numbing hours after a tragedy. After the massacres in Aurora and Sandy Hook, prominent media figures asserted that gun rights groups such as the NRA had “blood on its hands” and that their members “should be arrested.” Venomous slander on this level, especially during a sensitive time, demonstrates both disregard for the victims and the unity of our country as a whole.

Exploitation of catastrophic events is certainly nothing new. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, many innocent Americans of Japanese descent were imprisoned without trial, due to the fear that gripped the nation. A similar pattern can be discerned in the aftermath of shootings in modern times. Politicians and talk show hosts blame bystanders, such as gun owners, for the carnage and demand draconian laws that infringe upon the Constitutional rights of millions of peaceful Americans.

Not only is it heartless to use the coffins of victims as a political soapbox, it brings no actual benefit to anyone. Just as the imprisonment of innocent Americans during World War II had no effect upon the outcome of the war (and violated the Constitution), so the measures usually proposed after a shooting are ineffective for reducing violence. Take, for example, the so called “New York SAFE Act.”

The New York SAFE Act is a prime example of the ill-considered and manipulative decisions forced upon citizens after a tragedy. Taking advantage of the fear from Sandy Hook, New York politicians grandstanded shamelessly as they rushed this law through the legislature with blinding speed. There was, however, a problem: no one had thought to exempt police officers from the arbitrary restrictions imposed by the bill. As it was, this law made a criminal of every police officer who carried his pistol!

The folly of the New York SAFE act demonstrates the danger of hasty, propaganda-fueled action immediately after a frightening event. People are understandably afraid, and political opportunists swoop in like vultures, eager to take advantage of their fear. This results in illogical laws and numerous violations of Americans’ rights, without doing anything to solve the problem. People become angry, and nothing is accomplished but further division.

In short, tragic events such as shootings are times when Americans should come together and mourn, rather than slander and restrict one another. The propaganda and senseless laws pushed relentlessly after one of these nightmares does not serve to prevent further violence, rather, it shows disrespect to those affected, and needlessly divides the American people.

– Andrew Rock, Contributing Writer

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