Morning Thoughts on the Architecture of Media Responsibility in the Culture War

Look, you make some good points. However, you mention how the media are oversimplifying things, but you’re guilty of it yourself, by plotting two variables against each other and arguing that the resulting lack of correlation is actually saying something.

The resulting lack of a bivariate correlation is saying something. It is saying, very specifically, that there is no bivariate correlation, and any media outlet that alludes to a bivariate correlation is lying.

If you want to make the case that there is a bivariate correlation between handgun ownership and homicide rate, then make that case. If you want to throw some rhetoric in there while you make it, fine, but you must root the case in math if you want me to listen. Because until you make it with math, we are at in impasse.

While you’re at it, don’t forget to include a causality argument. I don’t own a handgun because I live in a pretty safe place. If I was forced by circumstance to live in one of the tiny hotbeds of homicide in the country, I might buy a handgun purely because of where I live.

From the Guardian article:

We also found that violence was concentrated even further than simply the city level: census tract areas that contain just 1.5% of the country’s population saw 26% of America’s total gun homicides.

I do not believe there is such a bivariate correlation at all. If there was, then there would be some relationship with handgun ownership in the US and our own fluctuations in homicide rate over time, and there’s not. Further, I explain why those things aren’t linked in the “murder stoichiometry” section of this article:

From the article:

Or think of it this way. I postulate that any criminal, today, could find ten guns if he or she needed to. If we were to eliminate half the guns in the country, they could only find five. All they need is one.

Take the time and make the case. Write an article on it. I’ll listen. But if you don’t support the case with data, you’re pissing in the wind, because you and I are simply going to end up disagreeing.

Further, policy discussions are (should be anyway) framed in three phases. You make your case, then you present your plan, then you defend your plan by showing the plan will have efficacy, and further it will not create more disadvantages than its advantages. That’s the form these discussions must take, if you want to properly advocate and defend policy changes.

You say they’re clickbaiting us to make us mad at each other, but you’re to a certain degree doing the same with your title(s) and you use unnecessarily grandiose and confrontative language in defining opinion lines by feeding the culture “war” narrative.

If learning the truth about (a thing) undermines one side’s position in the culture war, then my hope is not to feed the culture war, it’s to end that particular skirmish. The gun collection skirmish in the overall culture war is horrible, and toxic, and prone to lead to a lot more actual violence. It is thoroughly irresponsible to push people towards violence for clicks.

This narrative that peaceful gun owners are murderers by proxy, which is exactly what blood on their hands means, is disgusting, and prior versions of that garbage have led phone zombies to attempt political assassinations.

From the article:

And violence has begun to erupt at the periphery of each of these issues, driven by the freakoutery. Take, for example, the barrage of messaging that Republicans were literally killing people with their Obamacare repeal attempts in June of 2017, prompting some nitwit to show up at a baseball field full of Republicans and start shooting them. Was he crazy, or was he simply fighting back? Both? His actions were not sane by any objective measure, but they may have seemed completely sane to him, given the world in which he lived, fed to him by his phone. Opinions of Obamacare aside, it should be clear that these sorts of violent boundary cases will multiply as the freakoutery expands.

It’s insane to me that holding a simple position to “stop calling people murderers who aren’t murderers” is controversial. But that’s how nutty this culture war has gotten. And just to throw this out there: I’m not a Republican.

You say claiming to know a cure is ridiculous, but you round off your answer with your own prescription followed by a pretty nonchalant “and that’s just math”.

Cures supported with math aren’t ridiculous. I think there’s quite a few things we can do to solve the problem if we start by correctly framing the problem we’re trying to fix, look at the actual numbers of that problem, and then formulate ways to address those actual numbers. That’s how smart people fix things.

We can agree on the focus on only rifles makes no sense if we’re thinking about markably reducing gun mortality. However, I think it’s largely born out of necessity, as going beyond that is going be too hard at present. It’s a step-by-step process, where you chip away at what you can.

“Going beyond that?” That’s a clear indication that you’re already sold on an overall solution that can’t possibly happen, (see: evap fairy above) and you want to implement a short term policy with zero efficacy as an incremental step towards a grander plan that not only can’t possibly happen, but would also have no efficacy even if it did.

Have you spent any time thinking critically about why you’re sold on that solution, when the apparent numbers don’t support it?

In particular, does part of your choice of position flow from reading media sources that are verifiably lying? Or does your position flow from something deeper, like a core value? Both? Something else? I’m honestly curious. Answering that question could definitely help us both unpack some of the animus behind not only this particular culture war skirmish, but perhaps the overall war.

Conscientious objector to the culture war. I think a lot. mirror: www.freakoutery.com writer at: www.opensourcedefense.org beggar at: www.patreon.com/bjcampbell

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store