After all the shootings that have taken place in the last few months, it’s time that we had a serious talk about public safety and a certain amendment in the Bill of Rights.
No one, except Charles Osgood and CBS, really wants to get rid of the Bill of Rights, but at the same time it’s important to put the Bill of Rights into context. Not only was the United States Constitution written by homophobes who were against little boys being able to play with gender-neutral EZ Bake ovens, but their primitive technology allowed them to fall into the trap of broadly defining a right without understanding how dangerous that right would become when backed by 21st century technology.
I am speaking of Freedom of the Press of course. Freedom of the Press is one of the more misunderstood elements of the First Amendment.
“Press” refers to the act of physically printing newspapers through a printing press. The Founders understood that unrestricted ideas were dangerous and should be limited to those who would use them responsibly. That is why they specified a printing press. Certainly they would not have meant that the radio or television, which can broadcast not only words, but voices and images, should have those same protections. And they would no more have extended those protections to the mass media on the internet than they would have allowed every homeowner to own his own AR-15.
Researchers have long since tracked the fact that mass shootings happen in clusters and that those clusters are fed by media coverage. While a gun can shoot people in a room, a camera can shoot the glorification of that shooting around the world. It is obvious which of these is more dangerous. The assault rifle or the assault camera.
While it’s understandable that many media types have grown up with a press tradition, printing up their own little newsletters as kids and handing them out to their neighbors. And no one has a problem with that. There will always be a place for the home newsletter in our country. It’s media networks that shoot high speed signals around the world that are well beyond the capacity that any law-abiding media organization needs in order to be able to report on events.
No one really needs to know something the moment it happens. They should be able to wait at least until the afternoon edition of the press. Some in the big media infrastructure may object to this, but they must remember that many countries with censorship of the press have far lower murder rates than the United States. It’s time that we joined them.
The media must act responsibly and do their part to end the killing. Giving up Freedom of the Press will be their way of committing to a better future for the children of tomorrow.