The Adam Lanza shooting that occured at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Conneticut has sparked a number of questions. Why did he do it? Why is there an increasing number of mass shootings in the U.S.? What is the proper course of action?
As we debate the answers, people like Piers Morgan, whose job it is to get people to watch his show, is less concerned with the truth and more concerned with being a "champion" for his audience.
Larry Pratt, the executive director of Gun Owners of America, was on "Piers Morgan Tonight" on Tuesday. Amidst various interviews involving advocates of gun control as the salvation to all our problems, Pratt was supposed to represent the opposing view, that taking guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens is a bad idea. So of course, Piers Morgan made every effort to allow his guest ample time to explain his position to a thinking and intelligent public, right?
Not so much. Morgan was anything but accomadating, and perhaps his performance raises a more enduring question for us than those left by Lanza’s senseless act: with such a terrible tradgedy on our hands and with emotions running high, should we be listening to pundits like Morgan, Hannity, Maher, Maddow, and Limbaugh, when it’s clear that they’re feeding off our emotions like leeches in order to boost their ratings? Of course not, and it's important to see what kind of tactics are used by these ring leaders of the media circus when they disagree with someone else's ideas.
Pratt’s position is simple, whether you agree with it, as I do, or not. He wants to allow the concealed carry of firearms for teachers, because monsters who do commit these kinds of heinous acts keep doing them in gun free zones, where they know law abiding citizens don’t have any guns.
Morgan responds to this, demonstrating his superior knowledge by asking such insightful questions as, “Where will teachers put the guns? A gun might possibly fall off a teacher and a kid might pick it up and accidentally fire it." I winced when I heard this, because it shows a complete lack of knowledge about how most modern gun holsters work.
Morgan then switches to the “enormous problem,” that there is effectively one gun for every citizen of the country, leading into the fact that the U.S. has a higher rate of gun murder and crime.
Pratt tries to argue with Morgan, but he’s not allowed to get a word in edgewise. During the interview, he laughed in slight frustration over not being allowed to answer Morgan’s question. While this laugh lasted barely a second, Morgan wasted the next 18 repeatedly saying, “Please stop laughing….if you could stop laughing for a moment”, in what was clearly a failed attempt to achieve some sort of non-existent moral high ground.
Pratt finally gets to explain that gun murders occur in the areas where guns are not allowed. He then asserts that while gun crime in the U.S. is higher, violent crime in Europe overall is much higher. He’s right.
During these exchanges, all Morgan does is say that everything is complete and utter nonsense, because like Hannity, Maher, and Maddow, it’s clear that at this point he would rather either talk over his guest or simply repeat that he is wrong. Morgan’s only facts are to compare the murder rates in smaller countries like England and Austrailia vs. the third most populous nation in the world.
The entire interview can be seen here.
Not too far into the interview, Piers starts calling his opponent names.
“I honestly don't understand why you would rather have people be victims of a crime than be able to defend themselves. It's incomprehensible,” says Pratt. To which Morgan replies, “You're an unbelievably stupid man, aren't you?”
Pratt fires back.
“It seems to me that you're morally obtuse. You seem to prefer being a victim to being able to prevail over the criminal element. And I don't know why you want to be the criminal's friend.”
At this point, our British host has exhausted what few arguments he had, resorts to name calling, and goes back to that old trustworthy tactic of dismissing his opponent’s argument by simply calling it incoherent, in lieu of any real rebuttal being offered up. If that's not enough, he attacks Larry Pratt by way of ad hominem, accusing him of not caring about the people who are murdered by guns.
But there's a reason this line of argumentation is used. It's usually successful. If Morgan can't defeat his guest's positions, he can always wear him down by throwing mud, hoping that his opponenet will do the same, making them both look foolish, and Pratt does do this to some extent before quickly gaining control.
It was clear long ago to most of the audience that Morgan never intended to have a serious discussion of the issues, which he would have lost, and turned instead to what would be more entertaining: two people on the television screen, yelling at one another. Morgan knows what most of us know: if he can try to vilify and demonize Pratt, then faithful fans will be excited with the performance, forget the words spoken and the arguments used, and simply remember how the segment made them feel. More importantly, they’ll see how confident their host looked. You can in fact fool some of the people all of the time.
Overall, I was impressed with how Pratt handled himself. Despite being constantly harassed by Morgan in a manner that would make Chris Matthews proud, Pratt defended his position, gave Morgan a few well executed quips of his own without looking like a complete jerk, and used sound arguments to provide a stark contrast between how one behaves in a debate, versus how one doesn’t.
Whatever anyone’s views on guns and the controlling thereof, it’s important for us to not call each other names or dismiss solid arguments that require solid rebuttals. While watching mainstream media pundits act like clowns might be entertaining, let’s consider that maybe acting like them isn’t the best way to get our ideas across. Remember, the goal of these people is not to report the news, but to report the news sensationally.
The full transcript of Tuesday's "Piers Morgan Tonight," containing this and other interviews, can be found here.