December 15, 2012

"There is, of course, no way to monitor the conversations that take place in living rooms around the country. But we can measure the frequency with which phrases related to gun policy are used by the news media."

Says Nate Silver, whose methodology requires countable things, under the headline "In Public ‘Conversation’ on Guns, a Rhetorical Shift." ("Conversation" is in quotes, because it's not really a conversation.)

What he's found is that the phrase "gun control" is much less common than it was years ago, while "gun rights" and "Second Amendment" have grown steadily. What does it mean? Nate Silver guesses — or purports to guess — quite badly (I'd say):
The change in rhetoric may reflect the increasing polarization in the debate over gun policy. “Gun control,” a relatively neutral term, has been used less and less often. But more politically charged phrases, like “gun violence” and “gun rights,” have become more common. 
If "gun control" is avoided, it's because those who would like to push it believe the public doesn't like it! It's not that we used to be more neutral and have become more politically charged.
Those who advocate greater restrictions on gun ownership may have determined that their most persuasive argument is to talk about the consequences of increased access to guns — as opposed to the weedy debate about what rights the Second Amendment may or may not convey to gun owners. 
Weedy debate? As if those who speak in terms of constitutional rights are in the weeds. This presentation of rights is quite disgusting: 1. People believe in their rights, and it's that real belief that gives life and endurance to our rights; 2. This belief in gun rights endured over time, even as elite legalists largely believed they were just about nothing (so it's not an abstruse, academic topic but nearly the opposite); and 3. The Second Amendment doesn't "convey" rights it refers to a right and declares that it "shall not be infringed."

There was a time when rights were real to liberals. Now, oh, let's not talk about some text that may or may not transmit who knows what to us.

73 comments:

Chuck66 said...

Actually I have to agree to a certain extant. One of the ways I used to show media bias, we the way MSM report gun rights vs abortion. Phrases used:

Abortion rights
Anti-abortion activist
Women's rights
Never used....powerful abortion lobby. Or "pro-life"

Yet you always read about "the powerful fun lobby". Or that evil all powerful "NRA".

Lately I have read more articles in more moderate news sources that use the words "2nd amendment rights" or "gun ownership rights".

Matthew Sablan said...

I want to be part of the powerful fun lobby.

Robin said...

Certainly the Democrats were scared to advance the gun control issue during the last election.

pbAndjFellowRepublican said...

Why can't libs believe in real rights w/o thinking that the right to an assault weapon is a real right?

Also, what is gained by denying such discussions can get into the proverbial weeds?

Althouse fail.

hombre said...

Why would somebody like Nate Silver be interested in the Constitution? It's just an impediment to implementation of the progressive template.

As is evident from, for example, garage mahal's comment about teachers on the previous thread, the Connecticut massacre isn't a tragedy, it's a political opportunity. Similarly, the Constitution isn't a brilliant governing document, it is an obstruction.

Browndog said...

I was watching a panel discussion on MSNBC this morning, and a NY Congresswomen corrected host Chris Hayes on his repeated use of the term "gun control"

Paraphrasing, she said she didn't like the use of that term, because people react negatively to the word "control".

She said what we're really talking about here is "gun safety".

From that point on the rest of the panel used the term "gun safety" as if they'd been using it all their lives.

Don't be surprised to see that term used to describe the gun abatement movement in the MSM in the days/weeks to come.

Liberal word games...

hombre said...

pb&j brayed: "Why can't libs believe in real rights w/o thinking that the right to an assault weapon is a real right?"

Why can't libs view a tragedy or an issue without using hyperbole to forward their agenda? Who is talking about assault weapons?

virgil xenophon said...

Following on Browndog, I'd amed that phrase. "Common-sense gun-safety" will be the talking-point terminology most used by teh lefties..

Bob Ellison said...

The organizing meeting for the Powerful Fun Lobby Party will be held on January 1, 2013, in the lobby of the Four Seasons hotel in NYC. Just don't be late!

pbAndjFellowRepublican said...

BTW, if Scalia can connect the approval of gay rights to murder, can I suggest that Scalia's view of the 2nd amendment could eventually lead to individuals owning their own LGM-118A?

Kchiker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sorun said...

"Racial quotas" is another neutral term. I wish more people would use it, leading to less polarization and clearer discussions.

Kchiker said...

I really can't find anything in the article that I would find disgusting. I wouldn't say that describing the difficulty in specifying exactly what the 2nd amendment protects as "weedy" reveals any contempt for the Constitution.

Matthew Sablan said...

Gun safety is treating every gun like it is loaded and never pointing at a thing you don't want to shoot, not government policy. I don't even -own- or -want- to own a gun, and I know that. How Orwellian.

William said...

Fitzgerald said show me a hero and I'll show you a tragedy. Well, show me a tragedy, and I'll show you a scapegoat. The NRA is being set up as the villian of this piece. I don't think that's fair, but you will hear that narrative from all sides in coming weeks. The 2nd amendment supporters will come up with their own list of scapegoats, but this narrative will not be discussed except among themselves......I do think gun ownership played a part in this tragegy. To pretend it doesn't is wrong. It's like liberals claiming that torture doesn't work. There are arguments for and against torture, but you cannot fairly argue that torture is an ineffectual way of gaining information. You cannot fairly argue that gun rights did not play a part in this tragedy. Perhaps there should be some restrictions placed on gun ownership of those who are guardians of the mentally ill. I don't know how enforceable such a restriction is, but it's a place to start.....The liberals are forever expanding the parameters of the 1st & 4th amendments from the judge's stand. There's no reason to think that gun rights will not similarly be curtailed. I don't think it will happen at the ballot box, but, as we have seen, that's usually more a speedbump than a road block when it comes to the liberal agenda.

Chuck66 said...

Note to myself. Proof read a post before hitting the publish button.

And the language thing.....yes, one thing the left is good at (and perhaps the right, but being a righty, I notice the other sides good use of the language).

Gun control is now "common sense gun safety"? Will, changing the 3,000 year old definition of marriage is "civil rights". Tax increases are "new revenues". High income earners are "the rich" (confusing balance sheet wealth and income statement income), yet trust fund babies aren't. Abortion is now "equal rights for women", even though the father can't choose abortion, yet still has to pay child support.

cryptical said...

The left has been using "common-sense gun laws" for years, because who can argue against something that's common sense?

Rob said...

Let's also deconstruct Silver's final sentence: "There may be some voters who think that the Constitution provides broad latitude to own and carry guns – even if the consequences can sometimes be tragic."

Well, yes, there surely are "some voters" who think that, just as there are some voters who think pretty much anything. But more to the point, it's not just "some voters" who think the Constitution provides broad latitude to own and carry guns, it's the frigging Supreme Court of the United States. It's the law of the land. Would Silver write that some voters think that the Constitution does not allow states to maintain a system of separate but equal schools for African-American children? Not bloody likely.

Saint Croix said...

The point of the 2nd Amendment is to avoid the Holocaust, to avoid slavery, to avoid the killing fields of Mao, Stalin and Pol Pot.

Why should we trust the state with guns?

AEH said...

Adding "rights" to a noun, changes how the public feels about something. I feel that it would be fair to say that rights (guns, drug, marriage, reproduction, etc.) being granted across the country currently are being granted to minorities who want this right. It makes the minority who would use it a majority in the name of freedom. The amount of people who physically own guns may have drastically lowered to a minority, so changing it, will garner support of conservatives, and maybe some liberals who do not own a gun. The article has a lovely chart showing a peak of the term "gun violence". This suggests a shift in the thinking of the people who do not own guns. A minority of Americans use these controversial rights, but it is rhetoric, which is affected by both positive and negative wording, that affects the majority of Americans who have no intension of using the specific right.

rhhardin said...

The conversation in living rooms is about turning off the damn tv.

mark said...

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-iBmZwZTI6I8/UMwxR3YttKI/AAAAAAAATFc/n7xjsijNtv4/s400/Israeli_teacher_with_her_class%2B%25282%2529.jpg

There is negative peer pressure and positive peer pressure. Likewise, there is negative violence and positive violence (as the Israeli teacher in the picture demonstrates).

If the liberal agenda is to accept violent psychos in our society, maybe our responce should be similar to Israel's.

Chip S. said...

There was a time when rights were real to liberals.

Yes. Back when they couldn't get 51% of the vote for their favorite causes.

Now, all that crazy "rights" talk is just a way to thwart the collective will.

Rusty said...

Hence the second amendment.

jr565 said...

I like how, because Nate Silver got the election results right this last election, he is suddenly the go to guy for things outside of his area of expertise.
He is an "expert" trotted out as the "expert" to pretend that there is a consensus shift because Nate Silver mentioned it an he of course knows what he's talking about.
Suddenly he's hte oracle at delphi. Tell me Nate, should I hold onto Apple stock and expect a rebound or is it going ot bottom furhter. And when will that bottom be? Surely Nate should know.

Shite said...

pbAndjFellowRepublican said...

"Why can't libs believe in real rights w/o thinking that the right to an assault weapon is a real right?"

Believe whatever you want, pussy.

There ain't going to be another assault weapons ban for the foreseeable future.

Go wring your hands with the rest of the metrosexuals.

Your president isn't going to do anything about it, either, besides making the correct noises. He's a coward who's children will never be at risk of such things.

Rick67 said...

"There was a time when rights were real to liberals. Now, oh, let's not talk about some text that may or may not transmit who knows what to us."

Were they real? Seriously. If something is a "right" yesterday but not today, is a "right" for me but not for thee, then was it ever truly a "right"? Or something liberals want, and calling it a "right" is simply a way to give it moral and rhetorical force?

shiloh said...

Althouse Nate Silver fetish continues unabated as he was spot on re: the 2012 election and she embarrassed herself, as per usual.

Although Nate appreciates the free publicity he really doesn't need.

>

Althouse, why don't you take one of your famous con gun polls er self-fulfilling prophecy surveys lol. It would be just like one of Gallup/Rasmussen 2012 presidential polls.

In any event, if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.

ie "trying" to slam Nate and your flock's childish name calling will not solve the problem.

Did I mention Nate is already famous and Althouse is a wannabe in the wilderness ...

Sam L. said...

Most of us understand completely that 'gun control' = gun prohibition. It is not 'relatively' neutral, it is not at all neutral.

And 'assault weapon' is used to describe any semi-automatic rifle that might look anything like a military rifle.

Gun control for those with guns is keeping the trigger finger off the trigger until needed, keeping the firearm pointed in a safe direction until ready to fire, and firing carefully at the target.

hombre said...

"'Common-sense gun-safety' will be the talking-point terminology most used by teh lefties.."

The lefties have always had a way with words. Back when they thought they could make a case that dumbasses voted Republican they called them "dumbasses."

Now that it is clear that most dumbasses vote Democrat, they call them "low-information voters."

hombre said...

ie "trying" to slam Nate and your flock's childish name calling will not solve the problem.

Did I mention Nate is already famous and Althouse is a wannabe in the wilderness ...


Speaking of "dumbasses."

Shite said...

pbAndjFellowRepublican said...

"Why can't libs believe in real rights w/o thinking that the right to an assault weapon is a real right?"

Believe whatever you want, pussy.

There ain't going to be another assault weapons ban for the foreseeable future.

Go wring your hands with the rest of the metrosexuals.

Your president isn't going to do anything about it, either, besides making the correct noises. He's a coward who's children will never be at risk of such things.

Maguro said...

Let's also deconstruct Silver's final sentence: "There may be some voters who think that the Constitution provides broad latitude to own and carry guns – even if the consequences can sometimes be tragic."

Yes, it's a revealing statement. It implies that rights aren't really rights "if the consequences can sometimes be tragic". But of course all rights can sometimes have tragic consequences, because people have free will. If the government may do anything and everything in the name of preventing "tragic consequences", then we have no rights at all.

shiloh said...

"I like how, because Nate Silver got the election results right this last election, he is suddenly the go to guy for things outside of his area of expertise."

hmm, so Althouse referencing Nate's latest blog post makes him a "go to" guy on guns? Rhetorical. No, it just means Althouse is obsessed w/Nate as she eagerly awaits his next post.

btw, as a follower of Nate's previous blog going back to 2008, he frequently writes articles which have nothing to do with politics.

Much like Althouse :-P who in no way is an expert on every subject she posts. She certainly isn't an expert on presidential politics lol.

Free speech ...

mark said...

For libs looking to get rid of guns. Go to a poor minority area of a city and ask them if the only people who should have guns would be the police.

Dubby Hess said...

The left wants gun control and abortion rights.

The right wants abortion control and gun rights.

Tyrone Slothrop said...


There was a time when rights were real to liberals. Now, oh, let's not talk about some text that may or may not transmit who knows what to us.



This is the defining characteristic of liberalism. Rights are bestowed upon us by a benign state. When I learned to mistrust the motives and actions of the state regarding rights I was born with, I became a conservative.

It was the gun issue that woke me up to this reality. I've always enjoyed collecting and shooting firearms, but this has become increasingly problematic in the enlightened state of California. In monumental ignorance statists pass gun laws that have absolutely no effect beyond disarming the law-abiding, but never bother to analyze their effectiveness.

Alex said...

I'm reading a HuffPo article and some of the comments are truly frightening. One user refers to the GOP as an "infection", another wants to ban the GOP. Nobody in the comment section decried those sentiments.

Alex said...

Tyrone - does CA require registration?

DADvocate said...

"Gun control" is a neutral phrase? Since when?

DADvocate said...

The Second Amendment doesn't "convey" rights it refers to a right and declares that it "shall not be infringed."

This thought is fully supported by the Declaration of Independence:

...they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,...

That the right to bear arms was included in the Bill of Rights indicates that it is considered an "unalienable right". Democrats/liberals don't truly believe in rights, just issues they can manipulate to give themselves more power over you.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Alex said...

Tyrone - does CA require registration?



Not yet. Purchasing a handgun requires a Handgun Safety Certificate with a $25 fee. Detachable magazines with more than ten-round capacity are banned. "Assault rifles", as arbitrarily defined by the Attorney General, are banned. .50 BMG rifles are banned. There is a two-week waiting period for the purchase of any firearm.

Most disturbing is the continued decimation of places to shoot. I live in a mixed rural area-- my backyard borders on Cleveland National Forest-- but I have to drive over seventy miles to shoot legally. Twenty years ago I could literally walk to a shooting area from my home.

Every one of these restrictions is calculated to reduce gun ownership by making it just too much of a pain in the ass. No metric is ever applied to judge whether these restrictions reduce crime, because that is not their objective.

We can't let the progressives(LIBERALS) do what they did with pro-choice(PRO-ABORTION)-- gun control is gun control is gun control. Don't let newspeak run the dialogue.

sane_voter said...

I guess now is as good a time as any to finally join the NRA.

edutcher said...

That phrase, "There is, of course, no way to monitor the conversations that take place in living rooms around the country", should scare the Hell out of people.

That's the next thing the Lefties want.

shiloh said...

Althouse Nate Silver fetish continues unabated as he was spot on re: the 2012 election and she embarrassed herself, as per usual.

That was a /sarc tag, moron.

The little asshole is back. Trying to make himself the center of a discussion about the massacre of a full kindergarten class wasn't enough.

Trying to make light of it wasn't.

Althouse, why don't you take one of your famous con gun polls er self-fulfilling prophecy surveys lol. It would be just like one of Gallup/Rasmussen 2012 presidential polls.

Yeah, they were honest, unlike Ned the Shill being handed how many votes Axelrod and Plouffe were going to fake.

"trying" to slam Nate and your flock's childish name calling will not solve the problem.

Calling attention to the fakery will.

Did I mention Nate is already famous and Althouse is a wannabe in the wilderness ...

Other way around. Nobody knows who Ned Silver is outside a few wonks - and his fakery will be revealed.

Althouse is known across cyberspace.

Much like Althouse :-P who in no way is an expert on every subject she posts. She certainly isn't an expert on presidential politics lol

Neither is the little asshole.

He just mindlessly vomits back up anything the Lefty apparachiks shove down his throat.

phx said...

This presentation of rights is quite disgusting

Oh brother. The disgusting. Outrage. Personal offense.

Listen up. People who adorn their political rhetoric with this stuff aren't to be trusted. Don't be manipulated by that stuff. Doesn't matter whose side they're on.

Bruce Hayden said...

Tyrone - well, CA is right across the border from NV (where you can rent machine guns) and AZ (where the only use for a concealed carry permit is reciprocity with other states), both of which have much more reasonable gun laws. Won't help with target practice, but is utilized by some to evade some of California's more draconian purchase requirements.

Bob R said...

Liberals no longer believe in rights. They believe in power. Mao told them where all power comes from. Guess what they want to take away.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

@Bruce Hayden

Gun dealers in Las Vegas, the only place I've checked, will not sell a gun to a holder of a California driver's license, even when the gun in question is legal in California. I believe it is the same attitude I've encountered on gun-purchase websites such as GunsAmerica-- many dealers simply refuse to do business with anyone in California. I assume they think they will punish "California", as if such a thing were possible. To me it is vindictive and offensive to those who would be their natural allies.

McGehee said...

“'Gun control,' a relatively neutral term..."

BWAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

<GASP>

AHHHH HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Firehand said...

A good piece on why 'compromise' and 'reasonable regulation' are red flags:
http://thelawdogfiles.blogspot.com/2010/09/ok-ill-play.html

And leftists have been trying to change it to 'gun safety laws' for quite a while now; they think that will play better.

EMD said...

Control is never a neutral term.

Ever.

Harold said...

"Maguro said...
Let's also deconstruct Silver's final sentence: "There may be some voters who think that the Constitution provides broad latitude to own and carry guns – even if the consequences can sometimes be tragic."

Yes, it's a revealing statement. It implies that rights aren't really rights "if the consequences can sometimes be tragic". But of course all rights can sometimes have tragic consequences, because people have free will. If the government may do anything and everything in the name of preventing "tragic consequences", then we have no rights at all."

All rights can have tragic consequences. For example, the people might re-elect a SCOAMF. That's the price we pay for living in a free society.

Big Mike said...

@edutcher, that phrase scared me too.

RichardS said...

Isn't this just another example of the trouble with the presumption that the modern scientific method is the only means of finding truth? Afer all, the modern scientific method studies observations, correlations, and calculations. It can suggest that imput a yields output b. But it cannot decide what to study. And it cannot decide what is a good or bad outcome.

The main myth in modern liberalism is that all right thinking people have the same "values" (values being a mathmatical term that replaced morals or virtues). If that's the case, the amorality of the modern scientific method is not a problem for policy makiers--for we the experts know what ends we wish to pursue. But once we admit that reasonable people truly can disagree about right and wrong, the game is up.

This problem is, I suspect, part of the reason why so many liberals get so angry about policy debates. They believe that their values are the best and yet, given their epistemology, they cannot, in fact, defend their values except by reference to the idea that "it what smart people think."

chrisnavin.com said...

I'm kind of wondering why someone's own logic has led him to the point of wanting to monitor all the conversations that take place in living rooms across the country.

This is what you get in expecting smart people to design rational plans and then you apply them to people.

Europe's full of such ideas, and our ruling class is more so by the day.

chrisnavin.com said...

This is precisely where progressive, top-down rational logic leads.

In the wake of actual thinkers and scientists are all kinds of people with plans for you and me.

Political power is but one expression of it.

Be careful, Silver, they don't really love you...

Steve Koch said...

This is the kind of issue that should have been debated before the election but the dems realized that debating honestly would cost them the election so they pretended they are OK with gun rights.

After the election, they will limit gun rights through executive decrees since they can't pass gun control laws democratically.

The dems are statists and will never stop growing the state until it has all the power and is controlled by the dems. A vote for dems is a vote for tyranny.

Steve Koch said...

phx said...

"Listen up. People who adorn their political rhetoric with this stuff ("Oh brother. The disgusting. Outrage. Personal offense.")aren't to be trusted. Don't be manipulated by that stuff. Doesn't matter whose side they're on."

That works for you because your political opponents, the conservatives, are mostly honest and honorable people. It does not work for us because our political opponents, the lefties, tend to be despicable and/or stupid. Let's provide some examples. Dems routinely cheat in elections and fight measures to keep elections honest. Dems routinely use the courts to accomplish what they cannot do legislatively. Dems routinely buy votes by using government action to give preferential treatment to dem privileged interest groups (PIGs). Dems in the media and academia routinely act in a politically partisan way, putting politics way above their profession. Dems are ruining our country and should be passionately opposed. What you propose is a form of politically correct speech and, as usual with pc, is just an attempt to silence your opponents.

phx said...

@Steve Koch Nice fantasy to console and justify yourself with.

leslyn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kev said...

I want to be part of the powerful fun lobby.

It's amusing that the word "gun" keeps seemingly falling victim to auto-correct; yesterday, it was the Professor's typo "guy control." I guess a lot of people are reading blogs on their iPads now...

(And yes, I want to be part of the powerful fun lobby myself.)

The Sage of Altadena said...

I'm not surprised that the left is trying to tweak their gun control language, aided by their courtiers in the media. Abortion is the prime example: as I've said for years, everybody agrees that "abortion" is an ugly word. So, how does NPR (for example) use it? Well, those in favor of abortion are called "pro-choice," their preferred term. Those who oppose abortion are called "opponents of abortion rights," rather than their preferred term of "pro-life." Choice is a happy word -- who doesn't want more choice? And pro -- more choices!! Happy, happy! Wheras the right are "opponents of rights." They hate rights! BOOOO! And best of all we get to stick the big scarlet "A" word ON THOSE WHO OPPOSE IT, NOT THOSE WHO SUPPORT IT! So expect similar spin for gun control -- they can't call 'em "advocates of gun rights," because advocates of rights are good ... and "opponents of gun rights" because ... well, what NPR contributor is against rights? It will be interesting to see how this spins.

TOF said...

What is neutral about the term "gun control?" It is a code word for disarming citizens.

You might claim that the term is synonymous with firearms safety, i.e., things like keeping the muzzle of a weapon pointed down range, etc. However, gun control is an idea the Left began using as a means to limit the rights of individuals and attack the US Constitution.

Standby for some other code word to take the place of "gun control."

Cargosquid said...

Well here is the real problem.

"about what rights the Second Amendment may or may not convey"

Complete lack of understanding of rights.

The Constitution, and more specifically the Bill of Rights, does not CONVEY a single right. It PROTECTS existing rights.

Nate Silver...fail.

Jack Burton said...

For those who are unsure just what "assault weapons" are and are not you can read http://hub.me/aVFQ and in five minutes you'll be the most educated person on your block.

steveH a said...

Tyrone,

I don't know of any firearm dealer in any state that will sell you a legal-in-CA firearm, and it's got nothing to do with "wanting to punish CA".

It's a simple desire to stay out of litigation, to say nothing of prison.

The only way you can legally get around that would be to have a CA FFL initiate a transfer from the out of state dealer to the CA FFL, with all the fees and delays that go along with the process.

hicks said...

Is this the part of the Frank Capra movie after Jimmy Stewart begs God to prevent news broadcasts about the fiscal cliff ؟

Victor Erimita said...

Perhaps we should stop talking about abortion and start talking about "fetus safety."

JAL said...

Why is it the right to privacy (for the mentally ill) trumps the right to bear (and own) arms?

Let's have a discussion, Nate Silver, about mental illness and how it is handled in the US.

You'll find discussing mental illness is a minefield and the "rights" of the mentally ill often make treating them appropraitely extremely difficult ... which means if a certain very small number get firearms, there can be tragiuc consequences.

Right to bear and own arms? Ha.

So rather than deal with a small number (the mentally ill with violent history) versus the draconian control issue of outlawing weapons for responsible citizens in the US -- which gets the progs attention?

Violating the rights of the many.

Natch.

JAL said...

And yes, sane_voter -- join the NRA and cary the little duffle they give you into the gym.

It will make some people wet their pants.

Unknown said...

I'm sure in Michigan, and elsewhere, nobody likes the term "union control" while everybody is assuaged by the term "union choice."

Seerak said...

There was a time when rights were real to liberals.

I think it would be highly instructive to discuss when that time ended. I see the process starting around the time of Herbert Croly, and ending in the 1960's when the hippies heralded the end of genuine liberalism.

C R Krieger said...

PB&J asks, "LGM-118A?"

I like it.  Not an F-16, but still….  My two brothers would envy me.

Would I also get a "pocket rocket" to wear on my blouse in the coffin?

Regards  —  Cliff