Progress, But Slowly
Friday, April 27, 2012
Earlier this week, a pair of stories in the New York Times drove home the point that the polarization of our culture (progressive/conservative, Republican/Democrat, pro-/-anti) has blurred a single fact: ultimately, we're all still homo sapiens. Yep, no matter which side of the myriad of schisms we face, our humanity should unite us.
On Tuesday, the NYT had a positive page-one story (print edition) telling the story of the new fashion outbreak in the outdoor/tactical clothing industry. Yep, the story of how people who choose to exercise their right to concealed carry were now looking for clothing that didn't scream "gun".
When I first saw the story, I though "uh-oh, now we're going to get dissed for our fashion sense" - but that wasn't the case. The story played right down the middle, telling the story of how new guns - and new gun owners- were creating a business opportunity. The story focused on 182-year old clothier Woolrich and relative outdoor newcomer, Under Armour. It was a factual, interesting business story on how concealed carry was influencing everyday fashion.
As one of our readers pointed out in an email "the editorial board of the Times must be really p***ed at this one."
Actually, I'm betting they weren't. Legitimate business stories- even when they're about businesses not in favor on the solar power/white wine and quiche circuit - don't cause problems. After all, the story was only a "sidebar" to the gun issue. It was not a grudging admission that firearms aren't going away anytime soon, despite the editorial board's constant support of the idea of a totally disarmed citizenry (except for them, of course).
On Wednesday, the Times'Op-Ed section carried a "balancing piece" from Lily Raff McCaulou. The piece was entitled: "I Hunt, but the N.R.A. Isn't for Me".
In that piece, Ms. McCaulou took issue with the presumed lumping together of hunters and shooters into the collective membership of the National Rifle Association.
Net/net, the piece dissected the assertion that the NRA represented the majority of hunters-or even the vast majority of shooters. Statistically, it made a pretty convincing argument that the NRA really didn't represent the majority of any group of gun owners, recreational shooters or hunters.
After all, she pointed out, the NRA only has four million shooters, less than ten percent of the estimated fifty million people who own guns. Statistically, she's close, but in real-world situations, she appeares to have over-simplified the story.
In many situations (publicly-held companies for instance), ten percent ownership essentially constitutes majority control.
In our elections, despite the high stakes involved, far fewer than fifty percent of qualified voters go to the polls.
In most situations, the majority of any large group doesn't participate.
Remember the 80/20 rule of business? Eighty percent of the work is done by about twenty percent of the people. The others are the equivalent of a Congressman voting "present". They take the benefits, but shirk their duties.
Where's all this headed? Hopefully, toward a positive conclusion.
While the New York Times is decidedly progressive/liberal/left-leaning (or whatever term works for you) in the politics of its senior management, that collective management isn't so totally ideological that it will cut off its nose to spite its face.
Rather than admit that current economic policies are not working, they're willing to hold their normally- upturned noses and point to the firearms industry, or at least sub-categories directly benefitting from the booming guns and ammo business, as a sign the economy's on the mend.
Don't expect to see a straightforward acknowledgement that the firearms industry is one of the few industry groups, despite their best efforts to eliminate it, actually doing well in today's economy.
I predict that won't ever be a black-and-white statement made by the New York or Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, or any of the other "major dailies".
For them to admit that firearms ownership is a mainstream fact-of-life would be equivalent to admitting their social, economic and political positions did not represent the majority opinion.
Further marginalizing themselves isn't in the best interest of the groups formerly known as "mainstream media." Having been a part of that group, I can tell you that's a non-starter in their decision-making logic.
Admitting you represent a minority opinion would be perilously close to admitting that you aren't really be smarter than the rest of us. In fact, it would be tantamount to admitting your presumptions were, well, wrong.
It's far easier to run an accurate business "sidebar" and let your Op-Ed section run a piece that uses statistics to downplay a majority position with which you happen to disagree.
Yes, their reporting any firearms-related story is progress, but it is not a sign that the media is adjusting their position on firearms.