Morning Belz, Feb. 3
I got a call from the organizer of a big gun show in Louisville yesterday after I emailed him a couple times to ask if I could show up with a video camera later this month. He said no. He said it emphatically. He has a degree in journalism and communications, he’s bought a lot of radio and TV ads, and he wanted to know my background.
I told him I was a newspaper reporter for 14 years and started my own thing. I have to paraphrase because I wasn’t recording the conversation, but he said something along the lines of this: you’re crazy if you think I’m going to let a career journalist into my gun show.
What’s your angle? he asked.
I’m trying to be politically neutral, I said.
That’s what they all say, he said.
Over the course of our 49-minute conversation he explained that videos had been taken at gun shows that made things appear more dangerous than they were, and that all journalists are “trash,” and that journalism is “dead,” and that gun owners are “private people” with good reason to fear photography and videography. People take pictures of guns at gun shows and then turn them in as stolen to defraud insurance companies, and people take pictures of guns at gun shows with designs on stealing them from their owners.
It all sounded a little far-fetched to me but hey, I don’t know that much about guns or gun shows. I’m just a guy who thinks the 2nd Amendment is good who wants to interview people about gun rights on camera.
What other videos have you made? he asked.
I told him about the one from the Trump rally in Dalton, Ga.
Were you for Trump or against him? he asked.
I’m neutral, man. That’s what I’m trying to tell you, I said.
Well if you say you’re neutral that means you’re against him, he said.
I said, wait, it’s zero sum? I have to either be for him or I’m against him?
He backed down a little on that point, but I don’t know that the conversation progressed much from there. He certainly didn’t give me permission to bring a video camera into his gun show.
One thing that did emerge was his sense that America is gone. He bemoaned Biden’s prompt executive orders on transgender people in sports and the military, and he told me he thought the election was rigged. He said his vote, along with the vote of 75 million other Americans, did not count.
I’ll figure out a different way to interview gun owners on camera, but this apocalyptic view of current events is really striking to me. It’s present on both sides of the aisle. If you’re cheering transgender exaltation from the White House, you may think climate change and inequality are bringing the American experiment to its knees. But my sense is this reckless talk about national end times is more common on the Right. I did some driving last night and the first station I landed on near the bottom of the FM dial was Moody Radio. It was playing an advertisement about the dissolution of culture thanks to the erosion of Christian values, with ominous music. The next channel up the dial was broadcasting “Lock’n Load.” The advertisements for that show, I’ve noticed, celebrate the potential threats to our personal safety in this country to the point of fetishizing them, as if around every corner there’s a home invader or rapist.
Hate to beat a dead horse but it seems like everyone’s going insane. Some of it’s play-acting, but not all of it! And what if it’s self-fulfilling? Then what? Will people feel vindicated?
Off to talk to some immigrants, who tend to have good perspective. Looking forward to it.
No links today.
“While you’re playing cards with a regular guy or having a bite to eat with him, he seems a peaceable, good-humored and not entirely dense person. But just begin a conversation with him about something inedible, politics or science, for instance, and he ends up in a dead end or starts in on such an obtuse and base philosophy that you can only wave your hand and leave.” — Anton Chekhov, “Ionych,” 1898
About: I send this email most mornings to force myself to stay informed and in touch. It’s typically ~8 links, a quote, and an update on what I’m working on. Write me back! And please share the email. If I added you and you don’t like it, please click unsubscribe below. I was a newspaper reporter for 14 years at the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Des Moines Register and Minneapolis Star Tribune. I gave the basic story of why my family left Minneapolis here. You can find my new venture, Scuffed News, on YouTube (please subscribe!), Twitter and Instagram, and you can support the project with your money, in exchange for exclusive video and early access to some of the video, on Patreon.