Thursday, January 01, 2009

Media bias

Virtually everyone I've known, either in real life or on the internet who has first-hand experience with a newsworthy story says the media got it substantially wrong.

In some cases, it appears that they don't even try.

Compare this news story

Rocky River: Metroparks visitor settles dog fight with gun

with this version:

Dog Killed: Family Pup Shot Execution-Style While Walking With Owner In Metroparks.

From what I've been able to figure out: A man with a concealed carry license was walking his lab puppy in the park. Another man was walking a rotweiller, apparently an adult dog. The rotweiller got loose--According to its owner broke loose chasing a small animal. The rotweiller attacked the lab puppy (confirmed by the police) and after unsuccessfully trying to break up the fight, the lab's owner shot the rotweiller twice.

In my admittedly biased viewpoint, the first story is a bit anti-gun, but it at least includes more of the relevant facts.

The second version is astounding in its bias. No mention at all that the rotweiller attacked the other dog, or even that the shooter had a dog--Making it sound like the gun owner shot a loose puppy for no good reason, then ran away. (it is more likely he ran due to his "duty to retreat" from a confrontation with the rotweiller owner) Old photos and video of the rotweiller as a puppy, making it appear that the dog was still that size.

It would have been reasonable to bring up the legality of shooting the rotweiller-It isn't a perfectly clear situation since the rotweiller was attacking another dog, but I think the lab's owner will be able to claim he was in fear for his own safety, making his actions legal.

(HT to David Codera)


  1. For me there would be no need to conceal anything. This story illustrates one of the problems I often write about: misuse of firearms by law-abiding gun owners. I call this part of the migration from the "good guys" to the "bad guys." The only question is how frequent is it? I'm afraid it's not an easy thing to quantify.

    I realize I jumped to the conclusion that what the guy did was wrong. Yes, I believe shooting a dog in the park is wrong except in the most extreme case.

  2. Not sure what you mean by conceal in this context.

    I didn't really mean for this to be about the gun, but about how the media reports news. At least one of these reports is deliberately misleading--How can you justify one story leaving out the puppy being attacked by the Rottweiler, or the other source making it up? The attack on the lab puppy is certainly relevant.

    If we are going to talk about the gun, what do you think the proper moral course of action is if you are legally armed, walking your puppy or small dog on a leash, and your puppy is attacked by a large, loose dog? Do you have to wait for the big dog to bite you before you defend?

  3. I don't know the answer to that. But it is a good example of the kinds of situations you gun guys are going to face from time to time. You are going to make decisions about how much force is required in a given situation. I'm curious as to how often mistakes in judgment will be made. What do you think? Did you personally ever draw your weapon unnecessarily? Do you know anyone who has?

  4. Ohio has only had legal concealed carry for a few years. Neither I nor any license holder I know personally has drawn their weapon "for real" that I am aware of.

    I've had a couple of incidents where I was on high alert and glad I had a gun with me, but never to the point of even exposing it. (One of those times involved a loose dog--Being loud and dominant was enough to send it back home)

  5. Most states still have livestock laws that allow you to kill loose dogs that attack your own domestic animals.

    Said laws are deliberately vague about what constitutes your livestock.

    If you value your animal, keep it leashed.

  6. Ohio's laws specifically say you can shoot a dog that attacks any animal you own, except another dog.

    In the follow up to this story, the Rott owner was charged, the lab owner who shot the Rott was not. I think the lab owner could make a valid claim he was defending himself, not his dog--Technically he wasn't even allowed to let go of his dog's leash to escape, and running is likely to trigger the Rott to chase.

    Full disclosure: I sometimes let my dogs run unleashed. In my defense, it is in one particular area by the river where there are few other people, and where experience shows that the dogs will remain under my verbal control--even when there is another dog, mine will come back to be leashed. I understand that there is risk to this--If my dog were to either attack, or more likely to be overly friendly but misunderstood it would be my fault and responsibility.