Monday, February 20, 2006

Journalism-speak for ...

The discussions all week after the accidental shooting of a hunting partner by Vice President Dick Cheney revealed one thing: what many Americans don't know about hunting could fill a book. Here is some of what they learned. (NYT Week in Review, Sunday, p. 2).

If you're one of those folks who've been held up to public scorn for having a "When most people think of ..." or "Most people don't ..." lede appear under your name in the Missourian, relax (well, keep on feeling awful, but relax a little). The big kids do it too. What Mr. NYT means by "what many Americans don't know" is something on the order of "what many people who fit my stereotype of an average Times reader don't know." I honestly don't know whether "most people" at the Times would be surprised to learn it or not, but "many Americans" already know stuff like what a choke does and how come a smaller number for "gauge" means a bigger barrel.

Moral, if there is one: Be careful of telling people how dumb you think they are. They might return the favor.

One regular visitor has long advocated that young rimsters should bookmark the "weapons" entry in the A&P scripture, so ... over to him, and anyone else who wants to join in.


Anonymous Strayhorn said...


What's most depressing about the lack of knowledge about firearms is the fact that the stylebook covers the basics quite clearly and accurately. In less than a page. For most everyday chores involving firearms, it's more than adequate.

But firearms are like automobiles - most people would rather admit they are bad in bed than admit they have less-than-perfect knowledge about autos or guns. I've never understood this attitude, but there you are.

And, like autos, certain words and terms about firearms have very precise meanings. "Assault rifle" is a pretty clearly defined weapon. "Alternator" is a type of modern automotive charging system. If you refer to the bolt-action hunting rifle seized in a police raid as an assault rifle, you'll be pegged as an idiot. If you ask your mechanic to check your generator, he'll peg you for an idiot as well, and tack another hundred bucks to the repair bill for your alternator.

Another fact: cops usually don't know diddly about firearms, despite the fact they usually carry one. This should worry you on several levels, but for right now let's just say you should worry whether the police report on that raid is accurate.

10:36 AM, February 21, 2006  

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