Via email, Slog reader Nancy expresses her dismay over our "divisive" coverage of gun control (the emphasis is all mine):
It's really hard to have a mature conversation about gun-control when your entire staff insists on labeling people with opposing opinions as "nuts."
First of all, our entire staff has not labeled everybody with opposing opinions on gun control as "nuts." I don't believe Emily has even written on the subject yet. As for the rest of the staff, we've only labeled as "nuts" the gun nuts who are actually nuts, like those who insist that the only way to prevent gun violence in schools is to put more guns into them. Come on, Nancy, you gotta admit: That sounds kinda nuts.
The us(the stranger)-vs-them(extremist gun-rights strawman) tone threatens to put you in an information bubble, and alienates more people than you realize: rational, level headed, progressive people.
Because there's nothing that alienates rational, level headed progressives more than fighting for sensible gun control.
It is insulting, and demeaning, and strongly contributes to the fractured ideologies of American politics.
Careful, Nancy. You're beginning to sound kinda nuts.
The Stranger should be among the first willing to bridge these ideological gaps, but you are playing the Fox News game and trying to force an ideology on your readers.
And why exactly is that? Why is it up to The Stranger to try to bridge ideological gaps, when so many of the folks on the other side are so—okay, I'll use the word—nuts? (Also, how does one "force an ideology on your readers?" Really, I'm not asking that rhetorically. I've got some ideology I'd like to force on readers, so I'd like to know.)
You aren't going to find many meaningful conversation in the comments either. Reasonable people are repulsed by your one-sided, demeaning articles, and those that stay around are incensed by your tone, and you take their emotional defensiveness as evidence that you are correct.
Reasonable people find us repulsive and demeaning? That sounds awfully emotional and defensive of you. I can only take that as evidence that I am 100 percent correct about everything. Yay for me!
It's sad. I expect more from journalists at the Stranger. Social engineering is not your job. At least I hope not. You are abusing your position of authority.
You know what I find sad? Dead children. And FYI, check the masthead: I've recently been promoted to Social Engineering Editor.
If these articles really contain information that could reasonably change a gun-rights advocate's mind, then you are missing a great opportunity. If these articles are merely a way to rile up support among a small subset of liberals who support gun rights, then you are playing off of their emotions and biases in a most unprofessional and detrimental way.
I'm not exactly sure what you mean by that first sentence, but regardless, our posts have been chock full of useful information and analysis. For example, I've pointed to an epidemiological study that found people who possessed a handgun 4.5 times more likely to be shot in an assault than people who did not. I've done the math and calculated the $18 billion annual cost of implementing the NRA's proposal to post an armed police officer at each of our nation's 130,000 K-12 schools. And I've very calmly and rationally explained exactly what kind of gun control regulations I would support. Read the posts and then come back and explain what's so "unprofessional and detrimental" about them. (Unless, of course, you mean detrimental to the agenda of the NRA.)
It undermines you credibility, and the credibility of journalism in America. You weaken the national dialogue, and divide people, while failing to contribute rational and level-headed arguments.
Yes, we've called some people nuts. And yes, perhaps we've at times allowed our emotions to get the better of us. I tend to get a little weepy at the thought of 20 little children having their brains blown out at school. My bad.
But when you cast blanket aspersions like that, without even bothering to read my posts, well, it is you who are being demeaning and insulting. (I'd accuse you of weakening the national dialogue too, but apart from this fisking, you've thankfully had no voice in the national dialogue at all.)
If you want to be the left wing Fox News, then full steam ahead, you're on the right track, but I've always been under the impression that your progressive ideologies had value in and of themselves, and were not merely a tool to manipulate your readers.
Gosh. I wish I had the impact of Fox News. Which brings me to my main response to your email, Nancy: Fox News! It exists! As does the rest of the professional, right-wing, propagandist press! And fuck if I'm going to unilaterally disarm in the name of civility, while they're still out there pretending to be fair and balanced.
As a journalist, I have only one ethical obligation, and that is to be truthful. And that means truthful about my own emotions as well as about the facts. So when I see something outrageous like the head of the NRA arguing to regulate video game guns instead of real guns, I express outrage. And if you find that insulting or demeaning or repulsive, I suggest you quit your concern trolling and just stop reading Slog.