Unnecessary Hysteria Against NBC

There is an unwise movement in our midst to retaliate against NBC for their making public the mailing they received from the Virginia Tech killer.

This movement’s argument is that this release will somehow both give notoriety to the killer and prompt others to follow his example. They propose a nationwide boycott to punish NBC and to prevent further examples of this in the future. I strongly object to their methods.

My objection is that this approach of boycott is completely unbalanced in that it narrowly focuses in on one specific network event. They seem not to take the entirety of NBC news in balance. Their approach, if logically followed could say that a newspaper that printed a Cho photo is just as liable for boycott. Or the 7-Eleven that sold that newspaper issue could reasonably expect picketing.

This type of boycott can ultimately chill our free press. It can be worse than the tyranny of the majority. It becomes the tyranny of the minority. The news, as they have agreed, is commercial and responds to perceived public receptivity.

And to imply that the recent NASA event was copycat is to try and bolster an argument out of thin air. Almost eight years passed since Columbine with very little in terms of direct copycatting, but incredible increases in draconian security at public schools. It is an unnatural and unwarranted intrusion of a state of fear that efforts like theirs tends to perpetuate.

We are a nation of 300 million – there are tragedies that will happen that are NOT cause for some universal overreaction. Perhaps the ability to hitchhike, or leave our doors unlocked, or not fear a law suit if we are a Little League coach – things that have changed since my youth – are, in part, because of hysteria prompted by widely distanced and rare events that too often become universalized.

Taking Don Imus off the air was a recent example.

Society should not have to bow to the knee jerk sensitivities of the lowest level of risk taking in our society. Response should be proportionate and not ratchet us towards a sterile and limited access to experience.

If you don’t like a program on TV, turn the channel. If you don’t like a movie or a newspaper, or a cause – don’t promote it. But don’t play God and boycott its availability from the rest of us.

We have Mothers Against Drunk Drivers and yet at the table there is no room for Mothers For Drunk Drivers – or more rationally Mothers For Responsible Parenting. And thus we limit the debate and allow the flag wavers to be assumed as the best arbiters of policy.

I do applaud their efforts to examine the issues rationally – I just don’t support unbalanced, emotionally charged, and poorly targeted boycotting that rather than expand liberties and freedoms and access, will in fact, restrict them.


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