We have seen the best and worst of what the Internet age can bring. On the bright side, not only are we more informed than ever, but the Internet can even save lives: If there's a weather disaster, kidnapping or other emergency, we are immediately notified.
But on the other hand, the Internet hasn't exactly improved journalistic integrity. What do you get when you take an incensed, politically polarized populace and give everyone access to the Internet? Millions of online stories written by amateur and professional journalists alike, all screaming for your attention, each seeming to make a more over-the-top claim than the last.
Case in point, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's remarks on gun control during a rare interview on Fox News Sunday (his answer starts at about the 6:50 mark):
Scalia wrote the majority opinion in the historic D.C. vs. Heller case and, I believe, all he did during the interview was reaffirm the court's decision: The Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms; and there are possible limitations on that right, but it's up to future courts to decide what those limitations may be.
"What the opinion in Heller said is it will have to be decided in future cases what limitations upon the right to keep and bears arms are permissible," Scalia said. "Some undoubtedly are."
Reporter Chris Wallace asked Scalia point blank whether semi-automatic firearms could be among the limitations.
"We'll see," Scalia said, unwilling to comment one way or another on an issue with no court precedent.
That's the proper answer from a judge who takes his constitutional role seriously. And, if you ask me, there's no real story here. But that's neither a sexy opinion nor one that will win you a seat at the Internet's Nutjob Table.
In an article entitled, "Scalia opens door for gun-control legislation, extends slow burning debate" FoxNews.com makes the direct connection between Scalia's non-statements, the gun control fervor created by the Aurora shooting and NRA opponents like Mayor Michael Bloomberg, co-founder of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
"His comments also follow those of lawmakers who have called for tougher gun-related laws in the wake of the shootings," the report says. "Most recently New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg and New York Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, Democrats who said Sunday they will introduce legislation this week to 'make it harder for criminals to anonymously stockpile ammunition through the Internet', as was done before the recent tragic shooting in Aurora, Colorado."
Scalia has been taken out of context by both other righties and, of course, left wings, by both amateur bloggers and the professional media, and the entire Scalia controversy is an example of everything that's wrong with the current state of journalism. As pointed out by blogger Sebastian at PAgunblog.com, "The left is saying that Scalia is supporting a right to rocket launchers, and the right is saying he clearly believes we can restrict AR-15s and magazines. I think Justice Scalia is saying no such thing. He is saying it will have to be decided. This is simply fact. There are no tea leaves to be read here."
I couldn't agree more. It's a shame that we are such a divided society that we whip ourselves into a frenzy at the mere mention of a controversial topic. And it's disgraceful that journalists are so willing to play into it. When viewed without bias, the Scalia gun control story is really no story at all. It took sensationalized journalism to invent one.
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