Our View: Irresponsible
Posted: January 9, 2013
In the days immediately following the horrific shootings in Newtown, Conn., we resolved not to enter the rhetorical fray sure to follow — and it did — largely out of respect and empathy for a town enveloped by grief. Our intent, albeit from afar and of little genuine consequence: To allow the grieving families proper time to mourn the deaths of those six adults and 20 children killed in Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Nearly a month has slipped by since that horrible morning, and, sad to say, this passage of time has not provided needed and sobering perspective. Not only does the debate still rage, but the thirst to “do something” — translation: enact stricter gun-control measures — also remains unslaked. Prudence, it seems, is on extended vacation.
We mention prudence for this reason: That increasingly uncommon virtue served as no guide to a galactically irresponsible decision on the part of a suburban New York newspaper. In a fit animated, we suppose, by the anti-gun mania of the moment, the Journal-News of White Plains decided it was in the, ahem, best interest of one and all in Westchester and Rockland counties to provide its readers an “interactive map,” complete with the names, addresses, and phone numbers of local residents with gun permits. That way, the Journal-News editors apparently figured, their subscribers would better know from where the next Adam Lanza might hail — i.e., if this peculiar species of killer happened to call the newspaper’s coverage area home.
Of what in God’s name were these “community journalists” thinking?
Don’t get us wrong, these permits fall under the category of public documents and, as such, the Journal-News had every right to print them. The question is, though, to what good purpose? What benefit could publication of such information serve the community?
The answers: none and none. And not only that, but said publication amounts to placing an untoward, and totally unwarranted, target on the backs of people who have done absolutely nothing wrong.
One of the “neighbors” so identified was none other than Jeanine Pirro, the former tough-on-crime Westchester prosecutor and the first woman to sit on the county court. Why not simply tell everyone she may have sent up the river precisely where she resides?
What’s more, in telling criminals, actual and prospective, precisely who owns guns, it also informs them who doesn’t, making these people targets as well. Why not provide armed robbers a roadmap? Check that, the Journal-News all but did so.
The more subtle implications of this heinous instance of journalistic irresponsibility are no less pernicious, as they plant in people’s minds the possibility that the next serial killer might actually be living next door. What a contemptible antidote to neighborhood bonhomie.
There’s a word to describe those “community journalists” at the Journal-News — peckniffian, an adjective derived from the sanctimoniously benevolent but altogether hypocritical character, Seth Pecksniff, in Dickens’ “Martin Chuzzlewit.”
The sanctimony should be all too apparent, but here’s the hypocritical part: When the newspaper came under rhetorical fire, some of it withering, for its grandstanding anti-gun stunt, it decided to hire a security firm — whose operatives, of course, carry weapons.
Hence, the lasting message from the Journal-News is clear: We’ll take all due steps to protect ourselves, but we, through our actions, will ridicule you for doing the same thing.
Now that’s hypocritical — and thoroughly pecksniffian.