The definition of journalism from an online dictionary:
2 a: writing designed for publication in a newspaper or magazine b: writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation c: writing designed to appeal to current popular taste or public interest
For this purpose, I am going to discuss b: writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation.
Today the front page of the Chicago Tribune described what happened to a poor, innocent woman who was shot down at her place of business in Elmhurst, IL. The headline is “The Law Didn’t Save Her” with the tag line “She tried a court order. She had him arrested. She took all the legal steps she could right up to the day her ex-boyfriend shot her dead in the parking lot.”
The article goes into great detail about the events that led to her death. A former boyfriend was stalking her, and she went to the police and worked the system, in vain. He came to her workplace, shot her, and killed himself. He could have killed a lot of other people, too.
The article goes into great detail about how women can get help and the organizations to secure an order of protection, just like the one that was useless in protecting this woman.
And in the last few paragraphs, the article describes more desperate measures, such as:
“That’s why women who face abuse or harassment are encouraged to seek help OUTSIDE THE LEGAL SYSTEM (my capitals)… sometimes only the most extreme measure works… “We’ve helped some women disappear”
What is amazing about this article is that they select a virtual “test case” for gun ownership and concealed carry – a woman who is an honest and upright citizen, following the law and all of its regulations, who is stalked and killed by a man who can’t be stopped by the relatively feeble orders of protection – and yet the Chicago Tribune cannot connect the dots.
The State of Indiana, only a few miles away from Elmhurst, has a concealed carry law, and this law would have allowed this innocent woman some chance to defend herself. She could have carried a handgun, and when he arrived, she’d have a chance because presumably he was bigger and stronger than her and in any case he came armed.
Instead, the system offered her a death sentence, because no police are going to watch you round-the-clock whether or not you have a court order. All they are going to do is be there later to pick up the pieces and investigate the crime.
If the Chicago Tribune was going to start looking at extra-legal measures, such as “disappearing”, why couldn’t they also say she could have carried a gun to protect her, or the fact that since the state of Illinois banned concealed carry, they were in effect contributing to her death?
Whether you are for or against gun control responsible journalism demands that you look dispassionately at the facts; the fact that Illinois doesn’t allow concealed carry while neighboring states allow this right is a factor in these sorts of situations because the “system” failed, as was pointed out in the tag line on the front page of the paper.
Isn’t an obvious conclusion from this tag line that if the system can’t protect innocent people from those committed to harming them, that people should be allowed to protect themselves?
I read the Chicago Tribune regularly and they don’t connect gun rights with deaths of innocent people who should have had the option to defend themselves, or at least this right should have been mentioned among the voluminous detail that accompanies these articles. Is it editorial policy that you can’t “connect the dots” and tie together these situations with the lack of gun rights in Illinois? If you just want to have a little blurb describing the latest, innocent murder victims that is one thing; but if you want to make a multi-page article describing every detail and nuance then it isn’t responsible journalism to mention that there is a solution right next door that would have offered at least some hope of defense for an innocent and responsible citizen?
Cross posted at LITGM