William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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A CONSPIRACY SO VAST – AT 8:12 A.M. ET:  There is still much discussion – in fact it's growing – about the newspaper here in New York that published the names and addresses of pistol-permit holdersYes, the information comes from public records, but that matters little.  Who other than an organization with resources would track down every name and publish them in a mass-circulation newspaper?

First, a few things about the newspaper involved.  It's being variously described as a local paper, or a small, insignificant paper.  It is neither.  The Journal-News, and its website, are part of the Gannett chain, one of the most powerful news chains in the country.  The paper itself covers some of the most influential counties in the United States, including Westchester County, home to corporate and legal power brokers.  Inside the orbit of influence of the Journal-News is the United States Military Academy at West Point.  This is not a minor paper.

The paper's behavior is disgraceful.  If there's one word I'd apply to it, that word would be "McCarthyism."  The word is often used loosely, and is routinely applied by the hard left to label any person who dares to call a Marxist a Marxist.  But it's true meaning is the destruction of people's reputations, and often their livelihood, by exposing perfectly legal behavior that is also very unpopular.

In the early fifties, when a number of congressional committees investigated Communist influence in the U.S. Government and Hollywood, and there definitely was some, the more irresponsible committee leaders would drag people up before them because they'd attended Communist meetings 15 or 20 years earlier.  No matter that most had long since abandoned their youthful fantasies, or that the meetings were included under the First Amendment.  Their reputations would be ruined.  By the way, the practical impact of the committees was to make true anti-Communism less respectable.  The local leftists had a field day proclaiming themselves victims of a "witchhunt." 

The purpose of the Journal-News is exactly the purpose of the irresponsible committee guys.  (There were responsible investigators as well.)  The paper is trying to paint the scarlet letter on responsible, law-abiding pistol owners who went through the arduous process of obtaining a New York pistol permit, which, among other things, requires an appearance before a judge. 

There was, of course, no publication of the names of pistol owners who'd stolen their guns or gotten them on the street.  Their names will be unknown until they fire, and then the Journal-News will point to their "socio-economic" status as the real culprit.  That, or the gun manufacturers.

I'm often embarrassed to be part of the profession of journalism.  I'm embarrassed again.

December 27, 2012