Fear Itself

“A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.”

K, Men In Black

CNN is running a story, or rather a fear-mongering piece of tripe, about how “people on the terrorist watchlist are managing to buy guns and nobody’s stopping them.”
Now, there’s two things wrong with the story. The first is the premise itself is flawed, and the second is how blatantly slanted the story is.
On the first part… we live in a nation of laws and principles, and one of those principles is “innocent until proven guilty.” When someone is convicted of a crime, they give up some of their rights, but if they’re just suspected of a crime, well, they get to keep on walking and talking and going about their business. That’s how it’s supposed to work in a free society.
Also, seriously, the “Terrorist Watch List”?!?!? THAT’s what we should be using to stop people buying firearms? The list that everyone knows is flawed? The list that is no more complicated than “your first and last name”, so if you happen to have a common Arab name, you are going to be shit-outta-luck because there’s undoubtedly some terrorist who’s used your name as an alias? The list that has banned freakin’ Congressmen from flying? The one that has banned 6-month-old children from flying? THIS is the list we want to use to curtail peoples’ rights?
Seriously, I don’t fuckin’ think so.
And, of course, to the second part – the thinly veiled agenda of the article itself. When I was taking Journalism classes, we were taught some of the “basics” of Journalism. The most important parts of the story, the things you want your reader to take away from the article, you put in the first paragraphs. Many readers won’t read whole stories, so you put the things you, as a writer or as a news agency, think the reader should care about in the top paragraphs, and put the rest, in descending order of importance, down through the article.
The “least important” aspects of the CNN article? The failings in the watch-list, how ineffective it is at even identifying terrorists, the fact that using it would be so overbroad as to be unconstitutional, etc.
Not mentioned at all in the article is the most crucial (because, as Journalism rules go, the least important things to the agency are the things that get cut for space), and that is “what it means to be a terrorist”. In the world of terrorism defined by the United States Department of Defense? PROTEST is a form of “low-level terrorism”. So, technically, as far as the DoD is concerned, if you protest — if you exercise your Constitutional right to freedom of speech, or to petition your elected government for redress — you are classified as a “low-level terrorist”, and thus are eligible to have your right to own a gun infringed upon.
In Soviet Russia, terrorism defines you….