On clues and having them
Anyway. There are some interesting tidbits in the middle tale on the bottom row -- "Marine Misled?*" -- that put the broader debate over Those Librul Media into a brighter light. Hear now, for example, one of the foil-helmed orcs of the National Review Online:
As is by now abundantly clear, the mainstream media lefties don’t have the slightest idea what they’re talking about when it comes to firearms.
OK, sure. If you think the average American news story is lost in the weeds on a topic as simple as bluegrass, wait until you see it try to explain a concept like "assault rifle." But there seems to be something more afoot here:
Many, probably most, are simply too frightened of inanimate objects ever to achieve even a passing journalistic familiarity with guns and, besides, their smug moralism in the pursuit and advocacy of unilateral disarmament would never permit them to become confused by, you know, facts. There’s a narrative, featuring themselves as heroes, and by God they’re sticking to it.
Now we're getting into different theoretical territory. This flavor of journalistic ineptitude above all others** is bounded by ideology. "Media lefties" aren't just stupid; they're smug and self-absorbed. Let's have a look, then, at how the right-thinking comrades at Fox handle firearms issues, under the entertainingly tabloidized hed "Pal of jailed Marine Jon Hammar recounts pal's last day of freedom in Mexico:"
The fellow Marine who was with Jon Hammar when Mexican customs officials arrested him for carrying an illegal shotgun said his friend made every effort to follow the law, but got bad information from officials on both sides of the border.
Ian McDonough, 27, told FoxNews.com that four U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents told Hammar before he crossed into Mexico that as long as the required permit, which he completed, was submitted and he declared the gun to Mexican authorities, there would be no problem in bringing the vintage shotgun across the border.
Clear on what sort of a piece we're talking about so far?
"Jon was told to fill out a form with his name and the specs of the rifle and show it to the customs agent on the Mexican side," said McDonough, who was traveling with Hammar in an RV to Costa Rica, where they planned to hunt and surf. "I don't know what they expected Jon to do after they gave him the registration form and sent him on his way."
Oops! Does that mean it's not the family heirloom shotgun after all?
... McDonough said Hammar was willing to leave the rifle at the Brownsville, Texas, border station and pick it up when he returned. If the CBP agents had adequately explained the potential consequences of being arrested in Mexico, Hammar would never have taken the shotgun across the border, McDonough said.
Well, now I'm confused. Can the federal gubmint help?
... Michael Friel, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said it would be unlikely an agent would have led Hammar to believe he could have brought the shotgun, which had once belonged to his grandfather, into Mexico.
Oh NOES!!!! What does his lawyer say?
... "High-ranking Mexican military officials told me neither the rifle nor the ammunition is used by the military," said Varon-Levy.
Since neither the legal profession nor the Border Patrol nor the Marine Corps seems able, at this point, to distinguish a rifle from a shotgun, it might be worth asking why our intrepid Fox News reporter doesn't step in to help. He could, after all, have done so yesterday:
Varon-Levy said not only is the prosecution team unable to come to a consensus about how to actually measure the rifle, he was told by high-ranking Mexican military officials that they don't even use the .410 gauge shells fired by the gun, which once belonged to Hammar's grandfather and is considered an heirloom by his family.
We can be a little conclusive here. If Fox News thought shotguns differed from rifles in some substantive way, it might have selected correspondents who could put that distinction into play at better than chance levels -- or, with respect to my old profession, hired a few editors who could wake from their slumbers long enough to hold writers to account for such cluelessness. Failing that, maybe the National Review can enlighten us as to why this is a particular failing of "lefties."
I agree with Fox on one thing: Someone should get this poor guy out of jail. I think that's an indication of why we should have a competent bureaucracy over at the Foreign Service, and Fox thinks it's further proof that the crazed Kenyan Muslim socialist is going to sell our national patrimony down the river to the Meskins, but those are details. I'd rather we settle on the point that, if anyone in the current media atmosphere is using a manifest incompetence with firearms terminology to advance a partisan end, our little friends at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network have as good a claim as any. When the National Review acknowledges that pedestrian fact, I'll be happy to entertain its shrieks and squeals about what the rest of the media are up to.
* If you keep up with Fox regularly, you shouldn't be surprised at this story's prominence in the national news agenda over the past week or so.The heady combination of Mexican skulduggery, federal incompetence and MARINES! is hard to resist.
** Their name is Legion, for you can hardly turn around without hitting one. The National Review's rube suggests that he's heard a variant of the fabled eight-inch rule*** without understanding the concept of normal distribution.
*** If you read a story eight inches or longer on some topic you know something about, you'll find an error. I have a feeling this truism has been around longer than the National Review has, but other observations are welcome.