OPINION – When is the last time the American media celebrated the anniversary of something positive?
The news cycle might contain a passing mention of the commemoration of some great accomplishment. But our national media prefers to put its greatest efforts into obsessing about the anniversaries of tragedies or atrocities. They’ll devote hours upon hours of coverage to revisiting and rehashing a particular tragedy as if we’ve somehow forgotten.
A solemn remembrance of a tragic event is one thing, but agenda-driven grandstanding is something else entirely.
We’ll see this in great detail as the first anniversary of the Sandy Hook elementary school shootings arrives this weekend. If the pattern holds true, the news anchors, whose job is to provide the official narrative to the rest of us, will again be tweaking our heartstrings.
They will remind us of the sorrow that the victims’ families have suffered. They will encourage us to wallow in outrage and despair that innocent lives could be snuffed out so callously. They’ll express dismay that the expected support for stronger gun control never materialized. None of this “reporting” will leave us better informed.
But then again, informing the public has never been the goal of the media fixation on tragic events. They are coaching us regarding what we are to believe and how we are supposed to feel. As John Rappaport said:
Events like Newtown are extraordinary teaching moments for television. Network newscasts display a constellation of emotions that are deemed “acceptable and appropriate” for the audience to experience. And the audience is thereby trained to mirror those emotions, to feel them, to express them, to soak in them.
This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t feel compassion for the families affected in Newtown. But we should be keenly aware when our fears and emotions are being manipulated for the benefit of power seekers.
Here in Southern Utah, firearms don’t elicit the kind of frightful Pavlovian response that they do in more restrictive parts of the nation. This is not evidence of lockstep conservatism so much as an actual familiarity with guns and their uses.
Most households in this part of the state own firearms for a variety of reasons. Hunting is still a popular pastime. Target shooting is also considered a completely wholesome family activity. There are collectors and craftsmen who enjoy the artisanship expressed in firearm design. Many of us own firearms for personal defense.
We also have the advantage of having numerous public shooting ranges at our disposal including a world class shooting sports park. This means that shooters of all ages can learn the proper use of firearms in a safe and structured environment. Opportunities for high quality training abound.
This type of hands-on education goes a long way in dispelling myths that our national media promotes in order to sell gun control to an uninformed public.
Another reason that the post-Sandy Hook gun control efforts have failed to sway many of us in the West is our attitude of self-reliance. The state of Utah has now issued over half a million concealed firearm permits. Many of these were issued to out-of-state residents, but it’s clear that we take our right to self-defense seriously.
Equally clear is the fact that the issuance of these concealed firearms permits has not created a bloodthirsty, trigger-happy population. Violent crime is still very much an aberration in Southern Utah despite widespread gun ownership.
Southern Utah is extremely fortunate to have sheriffs and a strong majority of law enforcement members who do not support disarming the public. This stance in defense of the right to keep and bear arms was portrayed as lawless politicking by the national media. But it is actually an example of fidelity to the oath these peace officers have taken to uphold and support the Constitution.
When federal authority is being used to encroach on our unalienable rights, it is proper for our sheriffs to interpose themselves between the feds and the people they serve.
These are a few things to consider as the anniversary of the Newtown shootings dominates the news cycle this weekend. None of them are anything for which we need to feel shame.
Recognizing and rejecting the attempts to manipulate our feelings doesn’t make us indifferent to the suffering of those who lost loved ones. But it draws a clear line of who bears ultimate responsibility.
Unless we were the one that was actually pulling the trigger, none of us have any duty to feel guilty for what happened.
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives talk show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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