Woods and Waters An outdoor blog by John McCoy

Blasting away at the rhetoric police

Rhetoric in the crosshairs

As a responsible firearms owner, I have watched with interest political pundits’ pleas to remove gun-related imagery from public discourse. At first I was amused. Amusement has since turned to disgust.

I haven’t written about the subject because I believed others would express similar thoughts far better than I ever could.

Turns out I was right. Case in point — M.B. Carey of Lavalette, W.Va., whose delightful letter to the editor appeared in the Jan. 27 edition of the Huntington Herald-Dispatch. Carey wrote:

In the aftermath of the recent appalling attack in Tucson, a number of our legislators and many media talking heads, in particular Chris Matthews, seem to believe the best way to deter this type of incident is to “soften our rhetoric” and purge our language of any words or phrases which could be perceived as a reference to guns.
If the attack itself was not so shocking, this idea would be ironically laughable. Matthews thinks that by controlling language we can somehow control behavior and thought.
Applying this dimwitted logic, we could no longer advise our young people to “shoot for the stars,” or “set their sights high.” TV and movie producers (coincidentally the main source of our real exposure to guns and violence) could no longer “target” their viewing audience. Legislators themselves would not be able to “zero in” on a specific bloc of voters. No individuals could go “full bore” at any endeavor, and businesses would no longer “aim to please.”
Matthews and his media colleagues have been telling us since the bailouts began that the American people are dismayed, angry, frustrated and fed up with Washington waste, corruption, indifference and gridlock. The Tucson shooter expressed the same emotions felt by most of the country, but he did it with violence and murder because he’s psychotic, not because someone said “crosshairs,” “bulls-eye” or “bang.”
We don’t need Chris Matthews (or anyone else) to censor all the idioms in the English language or offer uneducated opinions on social behavior. In the future, he should refrain from “going off half-cocked” and “shooting off his mouth.”