July 03, 2016

Things that annoy me in the news

For most of my life I have been an avid follower of international news. CNN is available in hotels around the world, sometimes Fox News is also available. Al Jazeera has moments of raw propaganda set side by side with some of the best journalism in the world. BBC is another place I often land. When a broadcast is in English, Philippine or Chinese news channels can also be valuable sources of both local information and local perspectives on international news.

There is, however, one topic that always sets my teeth on edge and will cause me to not watch any news at all until the story vanishes from the headlines: gun control. Every time some idiot in America shoots half a dozen or more people in one place, the global news media goes completely insane. Fifty-eight people can die in a single political assassination in the Philippines and nobody bats an eye except the local newscaster, but when fifty nightclub patrons are gunned down in Orlando suddenly, "Americans and their sick fascination with guns" rolls off the teleprompter every six minutes at every international broadcast studio in the world.

Yes, in the United States our Constitution specifically preserves the right to keep and bear arms. And yes, tens of millions of Americans from all walks of life, and for a dizzying variety of reasons, own an unimaginable variety of firearms. The largest standing army in the entire world, ten times larger than its nearest competitor, rolls out every autumn to hunt deer, bear, wolves, sheep, and goats all across the American wilderness. There are more gun owners in Alaska than in all of Russia, and the Russians love their guns almost as much as the Americans.

If one were to believe everything reported in the international news media, then it would be easy to assume the United States of America is the most dangerous country in the world to live in. And, it is indeed true, that more people are murdered on the streets of Chicago every year than in the all the active war zones still scattered across Afghanistan. But if we remove only five cities from American crime statistics ( Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Baltimore ) then suddenly America drops from very near the top of stack to very near the bottom. The major source of violence in those cities (and in every major American city) is the illegal drug trade. More people are killed in gang shootings in Chicago every weekend than die in random mass shootings like the one at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando over the course of an entire year.

For some reason no one in the international news media reports about the intimate link between American street crime and international drug trafficking. Fifty-four people are shot over a Labor Day Weekend in Chicago and no one outside the local Chicago news channel bothers to report it. Thirty-six people are shot at a Christmas Luncheon in San Bernardino and suddenly everyone in the international media is demanding the American government join the modern world by confiscating their citizen's firearms.

Something is happening in the international news media that cannot be explained away by simple racism or even by xenophobia. This is more than simple fear over private gun ownership. I am not certain what is driving this international love affair with American gun control advocates, but I do not trust it. The dichotomy between how daily murders are reported and the sensationalist reporting of a single mass shooting does ignite all sorts of conspiracy theories in my mind. It is hard to adequately explain this apparent paradox without resorting to theories of ancient noble families trying to take over the world but fearing the rebellious American gun owner stands between they and their dream of global domination. Very hard indeed.

I don't subscribe to such a conspiracy theory. I have no evidence to even suggest such a conspiracy. By the same token, I cannot help but wonder why five people shot down at a shopping mall in Baltimore are somehow not worth mentioning while a single thirteen year-old girl stabbed to death in her bed in Kiryat Arba, a tiny Israeli settlement no one outside Israel has ever heard of, is front page news on every news site, newspaper, and news channel in the world.

Every murder is a tragedy, but apparently some murders provide either a political or a marketing advantage to the people who own the world's news media. One of these days I would very much like to see an intrepid reporter uncover the corruption within their own organization and show how that corruption is linked to global news reportage.

I know it will never happen, but I can hope.