The Big Think

December 30, 2012


Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 1:09 pm

“This is, declared NYU professor Jay Rosen, “the dumbest media story of 2012.” Why? Because, as CNN’s Howard Kurtz breezily put it, everybody knows David Gregory wasn’t “planning to commit any crimes.”

So what? Neither are the overwhelming majority of his fellow high-capacity-magazine-owning Americans. Yet they’re expected to know, as they drive around visiting friends and family over Christmas, the various and contradictory gun laws in different jurisdictions. Ignorantia juris non excusat is one of the oldest concepts in civilized society: Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Back when there was a modest and proportionate number of laws, that was just about doable. But in today’s America there are laws against everything, and any one of us at any time is unknowingly in breach of dozens of them. And in this case NBC were informed by the D.C. police that it would be illegal to show the thing on TV, and they went ahead and did it anyway

…To Howard Kurtz & Co., it’s “obvious” that Gregory didn’t intend to commit a crime. But, in a land choked with laws, “obviousness” is one of the first casualties — and “obviously” innocent citizens have their “obviously” well-intentioned actions criminalized every minute of the day. Not far away from David Gregory, across the Virginia border, eleven-year-old Skylar Capo made the mistake of rescuing a woodpecker from the jaws of a cat and nursing him back to health for a couple of days. For her pains, a federal Fish & Wildlife gauleiter accompanied by state troopers descended on her house, charged her with illegal transportation of a protected species, issued her a $535 fine, and made her cry. Why is it so “obvious” that David Gregory deserves to be treated more leniently than a sixth grader? Because he’s got a TV show and she hasn’t?”

Laws are for the Little People

If we’re not going to enforce the laws we have on the books, of what good are new ones other than to pacify the people and convince them that “something is being done”?

We’re turning from a Nation of Laws back to a Nation of Men. The first sign is always that the King and his court get a pass.



  1. What’s sad is that it’s apparently too much to ask that we treat both the news anchor and the little girl with common sense — but common sense is the second casualty, and certainly so in the case of “do something — anything — now — to make it look like you’re doing something.”

    Phhht. Meanwhile, here in San Antonio, just last week, a murderer ran into a theater and started shooting, but was promptly put in his place by an off-duty officer’s gun. Selah.

    Frustratingly, though, nothing happens when nothing happens, so that if the guy had slaughtered 20 innocent bystanders it would be a matter of national handwringing, but as it stands what will this very real incident contribute to the conversation? I’m certainly not one of those who think that regulations and strictures on guns are a sign that we’re handing the Constitution over to the Formics, but surely the concept that reasonable people can use guns reasonably could have *some* part in making reasonable laws and enforcing them with reason? Surely we can be a place where a girl can rescue a bird and a newsman can hold up a gun magazine for the camera without people throwing their brains out the window.

    Comment by barrybrake — December 30, 2012 @ 3:43 pm

  2. “nothing happens when nothing happens”

    Loved this.

    “we’re handing the Constitution over to the Formics”

    +1 for nerd reference.

    I like the appeal to common sense in laws, but I fear that too few will heed it. In the case of D.G. I think the current outcry that screams “prosecute him!” is a desire to see him hoisted on his own hypocritical petard.

    But in a better (more sane) world, I think the David Gregory’s AND the little woodpecker girl referenced in the article would both get a “meh… what are you so worked up about?” by the authorities.

    And I also think there has been a disturbing lack of coverage of that San Antonio massacre that was averted by the presence of a good guy with a gun. It’s almost like it doesn’t fit the narrative and so it’s not being reported.

    Nah. Can’t be that.

    Comment by jasony — December 30, 2012 @ 4:02 pm

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