Friday, April 05, 2013

Land of a thousand fears

Bias in the media is a strange thing. You can't depend on it leaning in any particular direction and indeed it can shift its drift like the sea grass in the tide.  Take the Fiscal Times founded by billionaire Peter G. Peterson. A billionaire investment banker, he began publishing it on line in 2010 and as you might suspect, his bias toward reducing social services and what it sells as fiscal conservatism draws complaints from many Liberals.

But when there's a wave to ride, the tidal wave of  hoplophobic hysteria that drives ratings high, for instance, the Fiscal Times might just hop on the surfboard and surprise you with something as hyperbolic and just a little bit dishonest as any fear mongering publication leaning the other way.

10 weapons you won't believe are legal, shouts the headlines and the lurid slideshow describing their attempt at arousing outrage  has all sorts of scary images of  things from sword umbrellas to the rotary barrel Vulcan Cannon used to destroy tanks from the sky.  Just like things you're liable to read in the Bible, it ain't necessarily so.

Things like a short piece of chain or nunchucks -- those things Bruce Lee made popular -- aren't on any ATF list, nor are umbrellas that disguise a blade in the handle. Do we really need a Federal ban? Fishing spears are the kind of thing teens bring to the beach here in Florida. Samurai swords like the ones over my fireplace and crossbows aren't banned either, but here's the thing. You can't take them anywhere you like, particularly if their concealed, like that sword cane.  A piece of bicycle chain is just fine as it, but used as a concealed weapon it isn't and neither is that crossbow millions of people use for hunting and general archery.  Brandish that speargun, use it to threaten someone and it sure as hell will be considered a deadly weapon -- unless that someone is a fish.

And then there's the modern Gatling gun with rotating barrels like the one that gained fame in the Civil War era.  They call it the Minigun probably to distinguish it from the things used on planes as tank busters, and they'd probably like to make you think those are legal and all your neighbors are hiding them under the bed, but sorry, it ain't necessarily so.  You can own one of these powered rotary barrel things, but it'll set you back at least $200,000 bucks and  that's only if you can find one grandfathered in and registered with Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives before 1986.  You won't and needless to say, these things aren't a factor in our gun violence problem.   Are they going to tell you that?  Hell no, but you get a picture of  a gunship with a monster cannon just to keep the teeth chattering and the hysteria going.

What about flamethrowers?  The picture shows a GI in battle dress throwing a fountain of fire -- something else that isn't much of a factor in crime.  It's not available at Wal-Mart or Gander Mountain and widely used in forestry and agriculture to do things like burn off the sugar cane fields in Florida every season.  What did you think they used, a Ronson?  Have there been any flamethrower burglaries or muggings?  Are you really worried about it?

I particularly enjoyed the picture of a WWII howitzer that announced that cannons are legal for private use.  Not the one they show, of course. They are talking about muzzle loading black powder cannons that shoot beer cans or bowling balls and the like.  Live out on a farm and you can probably fire one, but even without Federal bans, don't try that in town without a permit. Maybe you've got a courthouse or VFW with one on the lawn.  I think we can sleep at night folks, but no, you're going to stay up jittering about them shelling your neighborhood, aren't you.  One picture is worth a thousand lies, you know  - and they've got ten of them.

Funniest of all is that this learned lump of laughter is a reprise of something that appeared in Cracked Magazine years ago but without the humor.  At least there you expected a bit of tongue in cheek and a bit of  well,  outright bullshit, but hey -- just try to make an "improvised" machine gun without that somewhat inconvenient ten years and $200,000 speed bump.  None of this crap even shows up in crime statistics and yet, we get this kind of thing every day in idiotic expose's telling us to fear, to tremble, to quake and quiver because the neighbors are coming to get us with their umbrellas, and their swords and bicycle chains, ninja swords and nunchaku and of course their howitzers and A10 Warthog tankbuster jets with rotary cannons.  So little time, so many things to ban!

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