In due time

The tragedy in Orlando, a vigil in Little Rock, and knowing when not to post something.

My post this week was going to be about online hate speech, and how attempts to regulate it can inadvertently do harm to the marketplace of ideas. It’s a commentary I stand by, and will share with you at the appropriate time.

The day of the deadliest mass shooting in the United States* is not that time. It’s not chilling of speech by some homophobic terrorist; it’s just not being tone-deaf. This can wait.

Don’t misunderstand – this is not one of those “don’t politicize tragedy” refrains. In the wake of another mass shooting, The Onion shouldn’t be ringing true. ‘No way to prevent this,’ says the only nation where this regularly happens.

The Orlando shooter had been questioned by the FBI at least twice since 2013 and was previously on the terror watch list. He legally purchased the AR-15 assault rifle he used to shoot over 100 people in rapid succession. The same weapon used to kill elementary school children at Sandy Hook, movie goers in Aurora, college students in Oregon, and public health workers in San Bernardino. (By the way, even if he had still been on the terror watch list at the time of the purchase, it still would have been legal.)

I make a concerted effort to empathize with people who hold differing viewpoints. And the gun culture is one I’ll admit having great trouble understanding. But it sure seems like we should at least be able to agree that a person with such a history so easily purchasing an assault rifle is problematic. After our politicians’ “thoughts and prayers,” perhaps we could fix it?

And while empty platitudes from politicians who intend to do nothing are aggravating, we shouldn’t so callously dismiss those whose genuine thoughts and prayers are what they can offer. People who are at the same time comforted and mobilized by the healing and intercession found in prayer. People who would be physically serving the families of the victims if they could.

I just got back from a vigil on the steps of the Arkansas state capitol (pictured above). A few hundred people, led by Little Rock’s LGBT community, sang, hugged, cried, and prayed. Right now, many of them are gathered to watch the city’s bridges become illuminated in rainbow colors. It won’t change what happened. The families of the victims in Orlando will probably never know it occurred. And after a day like today, it’s still intrinsically important.

We’ll pick up this conversation again. In due time.

 

*At least by a lone gunman in a single attack. There are some pre-20th century incidents that could be included depending on your definition.

[Weekly Rundown] Muhammad Ali tributes; Uncle Verne and Joe Buck; a Christian rocker comes out; what is tronc?

Today, we’re sports-heavy – honoring The Greatest, more Baylor fallout (now featuring Mississippi State), and sports broadcasters accused of bias. That, plus a Christian rocker comes out, social media faces censorship, and something called tronc.

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Sports

Muhammad Ali died Saturday night. If you only knew him as a boxer, I hope you’ll take all the tributes as an opportunity to learn more.

The news broke as I was finalizing this week’s rundown, but people more attuned to great sports writing have been curating your must-reads. I recommend this list from Don Van Natta and Jacob Feldman’s Sunday Long Read newsletter.

From a sports media perspective, ESPN did something I can’t recall seeing before. They went live in the wee hours Saturday with their top journalistic talent. Bob Ley and Jeremy Schaap anchored a SportsCenter that was relaxed in pace, letting both men and their guests share longform stories about Ali. Deadspin, who loves to hate on the Worldwide Leader, offered praise, and captured a 12-minute segment for you to watch. SI’s Richard Deitsch has the behind-the-scenes look at how the late-night broadcast came together.

This probably isn’t your first time to see the photo at the top of today’s post. It was taken by Neil Leifer for Sports Illustrated in 1965, and remains one of history’s most iconic sports photographs. Many stories have been written about it since. Here’s a longread by Dave Mondy published about a year ago that explores the photographer and the fighters he captured. Continue reading “[Weekly Rundown] Muhammad Ali tributes; Uncle Verne and Joe Buck; a Christian rocker comes out; what is tronc?”

[Weekly Rundown] Hulk v Gawk gets a Bond villain; New NFL media policies; Bad headlines

Hulk Hogan’s legdrop on Gawker is tainted by outside interference, Baylor gets busted, the Buffalo Bills block beat reporters, and SEC fandom exposes problems for a local newspaper following a media conglomerate’s process. That, plus paying to sit at a park, that guy with the water bottle, and more.

Summer means my return to semi-regular blogging! Join me as I experiment with a weekly rundown of stories I found interesting.

Media

Was Hulk Hogan a pawn in a billionaire’s vendetta against a media company? It’s not a wrestling storyline. This week, we learned that Hogan’s lawsuit against online tabloid Gawker was anonymously financed by Peter Thiel, a venture capitalist who was a co-founder and CEO of PayPal and sits on the Facebook board of directors. Why? Because Gawker outed Thiel as gay in 2007. Continue reading “[Weekly Rundown] Hulk v Gawk gets a Bond villain; New NFL media policies; Bad headlines”

Can you hear me now? The (ridiculously over-dramatized) end of a millennial relationship

I gained much in 2015. But every gain comes at a cost. I should know, because this year I sacrificed one of my most defining relationships.

Even worse, I did so consciously. Willingly. I could have saved it, but I let it go. The day will haunt me for the rest of my life.

Continue reading “Can you hear me now? The (ridiculously over-dramatized) end of a millennial relationship”

Teaching media literacy in a world of active shooters

I teach in a world of active shooters.

Whenever I teach a university-core communication course, I always include a bit of media literacy, even if it’s a speech/interpersonal-oriented class. If this will be the only exposure non-majors receive to the discipline, I believe one of the most practical skills I can teach them is how to be wise consumers and distributors of information.

This is how that played out in a classroom in Arkansas.

Continue reading “Teaching media literacy in a world of active shooters”