Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

There Are No Morals. There Is Only Money.

You’ve heard the news by now.

“A white gunman killed nine people Wednesday night, after opening fire on a Bible study group gathered at the historically-black Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.”

There are topics to be addressed here.  Obviously, access-to-guns is one; and if you’ve heard the eyewitness reports of what the gunman said as he was shooting, it’s frankly foolish to suggest that racism isn’t a topic to be addressed. There is, though, one other overarching issue that I’m thinking about, one which actively impedes efforts to address any relevant topics.

Many times, this issue is characterized by the use of premeditatively reckless speech for the purpose of backstopping the interests of one particular segment of the American corporate world. And this reckless speech arguably violates the spirit, if not the letter, of the law where the First Amendment to the US Constitution is concerned.

In theory, speech is free and protected – give or take a moment of slander, libel, or intent to use certain forms of speech to directly place people other than the speaker in danger.

Beyond that, this speech reveals its sources as anywhere from amoral to inhumane, or inhuman.

 

Bryan Fischer, the host of an American Family Association-sponsored radio program [Ed. note: he regularly is identified as a “Christian conservative radio host”; but in this space, I refuse to associate my church-going self with him in this way, because in comparison to the Christianity that I was taught in Sunday School, his expressions of so-called Christianity sound a lot different to me.], tweeted this:

Misguided bans on guns in houses of worship turned this black church in SC into a shooting gallery. Nobody could shoot back.”

Really?

These people.

Because adding one or two or five more guns to this scenario would obviously have resulted in less gunfire, and less chaos, and less death. Obviously.

These people.

Nearly at the same moment (over on a cable TV channel overseen for the moment by an Australian media-empire patriarch), a TV morning-chat on-air personality was saying the very same thing as Mr. Fischer. Boy, it was almost as if he’d been in a football huddle with Mr. Fischer before they went and ran that play.

Steve Doocy, who daily is locked in combat with two other on-air personalities for the title of “Dimmest Bulb in the Fox & Friends Chandelier” (sorry for the personal abuse, but it only takes listening to about sixty seconds of this guy to detect that they hired him more for his chiseled jaw than for his journalistic chops), drawled:

Had somebody in that church had a gun, they probably would have been able to stop [the shooter]. If somebody was there, they would have had the opportunity to pull out their weapon and take him out.”

 

So, packaged inside these quotes (and probably some others out there, but these caught my attention especially, distributed as they were by various forms of mass-media to a non-insignificant number of Americans) come at least two issues.

First, they actively advocated for carrying weaponry in houses of worship – and for the readiness to use that weaponry at a moment’s notice.

Well, after all, what would Jesus have done? Shot first and asked questions later. Resorted to violence inside a sacred space. Obviously.

(Yes, he turned a few tables over in a temple at least once. That’s got nothing to do with this whatsoever. Nice try, but swing and a miss. Back to the dugout with you.)

Second, they advocated for the free and open application of wild-West, “frontier justice”. Sheriff ain’t gonna get here in time t’ help us. Gotta step up ‘n’ help our own selves. Hafta see who’s the quicker draw, y’all.

Probably a bit legally riskier in states without “Stand Your Ground” laws in place, but a feller’s gotta do what a feller’s gotta do.

[Insert spittoon sound effect here.]

Again, speech is free and protected – with notable libel/slander and public-safety exceptions. How does encouraging people who are not employed as actual law enforcement officers to “pull out their weapon and take [someone] out” – for people to feel free to become flailing, zero-formal-public-safety-training-laden, armed vigilantes – fit into this First Amendment concept?

I won’t give the feller on the Fox & Friends couch, Mr. Doocy, a complete pass by suggesting that he’s a completely mindless drone who has no idea what it is he’s reading off the teleprompter, or what it is he’s improvising as he merges his standing talking points with what his producers are telling him is the issue of the day.

But I also won’t accuse him of being Doctor Evil, with subtle and convoluted plans for bringing about his evil schemes for world domination. He’s just makin’ a living. It’s his career. And I suspect that he and Mr. Fischer the radio host represent a cautionary tale about what happens when average human’s contribution to the world is controlled by more powerful forces.

 

Mr. Doocy and Mr. Fischer, to name just a pair of examples, are paid to place words into the public discourse which (regardless of their recklessness and irresponsibility in the context of public safety) are what their bosses tell them to say. If they refuse to say those words, they may lose their places as media figures, because their bosses need them to say those words. Their bosses need them to say those words because they, the bosses, are being bankrolled by people whose job it is – in this case – to make sure that one particular industry makes its money. And is assured of continuing to make its money, no matter what.

There are no morals. There is only money.

Now, Mr. Doocy and Mr. Fischer could take a closer look at the copy that they’re being asked to read, or at the tweets they send, or at transcripts of their on-air improvisations, and decide that in order to feel like decent human beings, they can’t in good conscience keep on saying those words, and don’t want to have their names associated with those words anymore. And they could submit letters of resignation to News Corp. or the American Family Association, and wash their hands of the whole thing.

But then they’d not be making the kind of six-figure salaries that national on-air TV and radio personalities pull down, thanks to the largesse of the corporations that bankroll America’s nationally-distributed media. And those salaries support them in the manner to which they enjoy being accustomed.

So instead, they could assuage their consciences by saying, in effect, I was only following orders.

There are no morals. There is only money.

 

And the people in the gun-manufacturing industry, who wish to acquire that money, and wish to continue to make that money … are doing so by bankrolling media companies. And since money talks, those media companies are compelled to retain that bankrolling by saying those words that the industry insists they say: that guns are good, that more guns are better, that good guys with guns can save us from bad guys with guns, that guns in churches will keep us safe, that more guns anywhere will keep us safe, that more guns will help us deal with our fear, that fear is a part of life and we can best protect ourselves from what we fear with more guns, that guns guns guns guns guns! Because more guns.

Sorry. That sounded a little hysterical there, didn’t it. How can I possibly assert that?

Turns out I don’t have to.

In a post on gun activist website TexasCHLForum.com, National Rifle Association board member Charles L. Cotton argued that [South Carolina State Senator and pastor of the AME church, Rev. Clementa] Pinckney was responsible for the deaths of the eight church members who died alongside him because he did not support legislative proposals that would have allowed concealed carry in churches. Cotton wrote that the victims ‘might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns.’

As a state senator, Pinckney had opposed a 2011 that would have legalized concealed carry in churches. The bill ultimately failed in the legislature.”

A board member of the gun-manufacturing industry’s chief lobbying arm, the NRA, asserted that.

The people in the gun-manufacturing industry and their lobbyists, who conscript people and companies to aid and abet their quest to continue to acquire of all that money … and who effectively BUY legislators (thank you, Citizens United) who then feel obligated to enact laws that take away hindrances to the ever more widespread distribution of guns … do all of that without concern for public safety; without care for human suffering; without interest in the maintenance of a civilized society; and without empathy for anyone but themselves and their own greed.

I got mine, and I’m going to continue to get mine, is what they’re saying … and to hell with the rest of you.

 

THESE PEOPLE.

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June 20, 2015 - Posted by | current events, media, news, politics, radio, television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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