April 18, 2007
A CALL FOR "SENSIBLE RESTRICTIONS" ON PRESS FREEDOM:
A practical, commonsense way of reducing gun violence -- especially in the schools -- would be a federal law prohibiting, or at least seriously limiting, the interstate reporting of sensational gun crimes like Virginia Tech for five working days.
Such a law would not affect local coverage, where there is a need for the immediate dissemination of information, but would make the event 'old news' when it was finally reported nationally and therefore unlikely to get the massive publicity that invites further, copycat violence. Even a small reduction in today's intense coverage of such events might, by not stimulating some potential gunman to action, save lives.
While 'gun' laws are hard to enforce because of the easy concealment of firearms, the public nature of 'news' would make enforcement of this law virtually automatic.
Because the delay would be short and serve a compelling government interest, it should pass constitutional muster; the Brady law serves admirably as a precedent here. While First Amendment absolutists will cavil, the simple fact is that it is as wrong to hold that the Press Clause protects a media 'right' to lethally endanger the public as it would be to hold that the Religion Clause protects human sacrifice.
He leaves out the argument that "if it saves just one life, it's worth it," though. Plus, no explicit appeal on behalf of "the children." Also, no claim that we shouldn't let Big News profit from higher ratings even as it contributes to more violence, and hence more profits! But I give it a B+.
UPDATE: Reader Stephen Hill emails: "How about a news story buy-back? There are plenty I’d like to return…"
ANOTHER UPDATE: A few readers seem to be mistaking the above for a serious proposal, rather than a mockery of gun-controllers' constitutional style. Then again, today's politics are pretty much beyond parody . . . .
But SayUncle gets it.