To the Media Outed by the Gun Owner: You Had It Coming

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To the Staff of the Journal News,

When I read recently about how a gun owner published the names and addresses of many of you on a Web site in retaliation for you publishing the names and addresses of gun owners in your area, I have to admit my first reaction was, "Sucks to be you."

I should note that I am not a gun owner, nor do I intend to be. I do not advocate lax gun restrictions. In fact, I am a strong believer in good gun control laws as was my father, despite the fact he was a hunter and a gun owner. That being said, what you did in outing people who were not doing anything illegal would have been only mildly interesting if you had done it for legitimate journalistic reasons, but I think you had an ulterior motive.

Like most newspapers, I'm sure you are feeling the pinch that comes with reduced ad rates and declining revenues from online advertising. One way to help bolster your numbers is to increase hits to your Web site, and congratulations, because you certainly did that. And, let's be honest, wasn't that really the point?

Why else would you decide to equate people who went through every legal channel to acquire a weapon with lunatics and criminals? It would be like outing registered Democrats or Republicans. It would be like outing people who apply for permits to open businesses or get married or divorced. But none of those would have gotten you hits because no one cares who decided to open a deli or divorce his wife of 20 years. But they definitely care who is carrying a gun, particularly after the tragedy in Connecticut.

To be honest, I've always been uncomfortable with the outing of criminals as a means of warning people against their existence. The branding of someone with the dreaded scarlet A needs to be done with great care and respect for the problems it creates. There are far too many instances of people on the sex offender list who are guilty of nothing more than being a 19-year-old who slept with a 16-year-old, or those who were wrongfully accused.

There are very good reasons to warn citizens of the dangers around them and carefully curated lists of criminals can be tremendously beneficial. But, a high and mighty rundown of people who did absolutely nothing wrong is the kind of demonization no one needs.

So when someone who wasn't on your list, but does own a gun, decided to fire back with a list of his own, I can honestly say I felt no sympathy for you. I guess I feel somewhat bad for the people who weren't involved in the decision-making process. I'm sure some copy editor is thinking, "Damn, man, I don't control what the bosses do." But, just as Newton theorized, "Every stupid action has an equally stupid reaction."

And please don't go whining about how someone used your tactic against you like your colleagues on CNN did when they brought the guy who did it on to discuss his story. All's fair in love AND war, as the saying goes.

Next time you decide to go and do something stupid with technology, try to remember that there are lots of people out there just as smart if not smarter than you. Entire corporations have felt the wrath of organizations like ANONYMOUS.

But, my guess is you got exactly what you wanted: attention.


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11 comments
Michael Terry
Michael Terry

I wouldn't name names unless it directly effected me.

Blake Whitaker
Blake Whitaker

Really, Michael? Who would that be? Certainly you'll deliver.

Michael Terry
Michael Terry

And I do know of a couple of HP writers that follow certain bands just so they can get high with them

Michael Terry
Michael Terry

The writer is correct. Lets next out all the pot smokers at the Houston press?

Julie Elliott
Julie Elliott

W.A.Y to go! Turnabout is fairplay. I'm sure that the journalists were appalled at the fact that someone can show up at their house since their information was posted. I don't think that that even crossed their minds when they published the name/addresess of all of those innocent, law abiding citizens.

rich5371
rich5371

Well done - I agree with this 100%!

MadMac
MadMac topcommenter

"There are far too many instances of people on the sex offender list who are guilty of nothing more than being a 19-year-old who slept with a 16-year-old, or those who were wrongfully accused."  See, I was with you upto this line. You object to branding some one with the scarlet "A" but then relegate statutory rape, (we have age of consent laws for a reason, by the way) to "nothing more than"? Indignation, self-righteous or otherwise, is just as irresponsible in the media as a rush to summary judgment.

jeffbalke
jeffbalke topcommenter

@MadMac I understand where you are coming from, but there are numerous instances of kids branded with the exact same stigma as child rapists for crimes that don't come close. A 19-year-old who eventually married his high school sweetheart who happened to be 16 at the time they first had sex is not the same as a repeat pedophile.

I hate things that are painted with a broad brush. Nothing like this has any kind of nuance and it ends up ruining lives simply because we are too lazy as a society to view things with varying degrees of importance, which was the point I was trying to get across.

MadMac
MadMac topcommenter

As I 'm sure you realize, the situation you describe is RARE. Carlos Coy is closer to the norm I experienced before I gave up on teaching. In elementary school we had 15-year-old fifth graders and I regularly had to keep Chester D. Moelester (mispelling intentional, for once) away from the 11-year-old girls. That was NOT an isolated incident.

I admire your work and I share your hatred for generalizations as well. I respectfully disagree with your point of comparison.

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