Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Al Hunt & Co. Says All You Millennials Are Gonna DIE !!!!!!!!

Gun deaths.  The numbers are what they are, you can't really change the dimensions of the issue, but you can change the language that you use to describe them in order to suit your proposition.

Quick recap.  There are about 33,000 deaths related to firearms every year in America.  Take out suicides and we're looking at about 12,000 deaths by a firearm.  Of those, roughly 70-80% are gang or drug-related violence.

Both sides of the debate do their tricks with the numbers (although by far, more tricks and more dishonest tricks on the gun control side), but these are the roughly undeniable parameters for empirical analysis on the matter.

So, how does an enterprising editor/reporter deal with a vanishingly small "problem" that they want to conflate into a huge problem?  Language.  The typical rhetorical trick is to attribute the violence that a gun can do to the gun, thus "gun violence."  Not people violence or criminal violence, but "gun violence."  This is scary, because there are indeed alot of guns out there, more than there are people.  So if every gun could just spontaneously whack one of us, we're toast.

Another way to rhetorically draw attention away from the numbers is in rebranding the victims.  That is what one of Al Hunt's minions, named Zara Kessler, does is this piece.  Gangbangers and drug dealers, who represent the vast majority of deaths by firearm, are now "millennials."  I am not saying that all the young people who die by gunshot in America aren't millenials in the technical sense, they are, but calling them millennials sounds so much better than gangbangers or drug trade participants.  We use the word "millennial" to describe a prototypical person of a certain age.  It's an amalgam of commonality, a shorthand for a broad group.  Yet the preponderance of victims of gun-related homicides are a small segment of society that is anything but typical.

Kessler, through linguistic legerdemain, wants you to think that a typical young person is at great risk regardless of lifestyle choices and behavioral risk.  This is patently not the case, nor is the millennial generation at all different from past cohorts.  Every generation has a subset of individuals who engage in extremely risky behavior and suffer disproportionate death and misery as a result.

Kessler has penned a classic in the genre of FUD and all I can think about while reading it is the G n' R classic..."Know where you are?  You're in the jungle, Baby...your're gonna die!!!"


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