Crime

Mark Bittman: Making Satire Impossible, One Column at a Time

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When New York Times columnist Mark Bittman started writing about food policy, I wished he would go back to writing about food. Now that he is writing about gun control, I wish he would go back to writing about food policy. Actually, he mentions food policy in today's column, along with global warming. To Bittman, they all come down to the same issue:

No matter what you look at, the basic problem remains so-called leadership that cannot stand up to big ag, big food, big energy, Wall Street …or the N.R.A….

It's easy to say that without proof of direct causation you can't justify regulation, but how many people died while the tobacco companies lied? Of course cause and effect is complex, but that's no reason to ignore the smokiest guns.

This is where leadership comes in…

Real leaders lead. Though gun control is said to be too risky an issue for most politicians, didn't we elect them for their judgment and will? Otherwise, why not govern by polls and Twitter?

I especially admire the non sequitur "how many people died while the tobacco companies lied?" because it can be randomly dropped into any empirically shaky plea for government intervention. Relying on real leaders who lead, regardless of the evidence supporting said leadership, absolves Bittman of the responsibility to think, or even to familiarize himself with the most basic facts of the subjects on which he pontificates. "You can buy a semiautomatic weapon online almost as easily as you can a book," he asserts. Yes, because when you buy a book online, you first must find a licensed local bookseller who is willing to act as your intermediary, accept delivery of the book, and run the legally required background check, after which (assuming your record is clean) you can take possession of the book by traveling to the bookseller's location and picking it up.

Bittman also notes/complains that "most weapons used in murders, even semiautomatics, are bought legally." Even semiautomatics? A semiautomatic firearm is any gun that fires once per trigger pull, ejects the spent cartridge, and automatically chambers a new round (assuming there is one in the magazine). Semiautomatics are very common, used for self-defense, hunting, and target shooting a lot more often than they are used to murder people. Does Bittman really mean to draw a distinction between semiautomatic weapons and, say, revolvers, bolt-action rifles, and single-shot pistols, or is he under the mistaken impression that there is something especially sinister about this broad class of guns? You be the judge.

Bittman wants to "make gun purchases more difficult, especially for disturbed people who appear to think they're part of some 'solution' to a series of 'problems' identified by hatemongers." But how do we know which individuals are so "disturbed" that they should be stripped of their Second Amendment rights? Bittman suggests Bill O'Reilly fans as one suspect class. He also mentions that Jared Lee Loughner, the Tucson shooter, had a prescription for antidepressants; that James Holmes, charged with killing 12 people in a Colorado movie theater, "was acting in a weird manner"; and that Dean Page, shot to death during his attack on a Sikh temple near Milwaukee, "was a racist so ignorant he didn't know a Sikh from a Muslim." I surmise that a real leader, in Bittman's view, would push legislation banning gun possession by depressed people, weirdos, stupid racists (what about the smart ones?), and possibly Fox News viewers.

This week I wrote a tongue-in-cheek column proposing "an ideological test for gun ownership" that many readers took seriously. (Fortunately, almost all of them—the ones I heard from, anyway—were horrified by the idea.) I blame knee-jerk, know-nothing, do-something pundits like Bittman, who are working hard to make satire impossible. 

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  1. Less-than-semiautomatic firearms take longer to reload and have to be reloaded after fewer rounds. I seriously doubt Bittner is actually aware of this, but that’s a non-absurd concern.

    1. You mean like pump action shotguns with extended mags as long as the barrel? Or lever-action rifles chambered in pistol rounds that can take 15 shells in the mag at a time?

      1. You’re messing with a force around here asking questions like that.

        1. A thousand questions don’t equal a single doubt.

          1. What does that even MEAN?

            1. Absolutely nothing, just like 99% of Tulpa Dumb’s utterances.

            2. I think he is quoting the desert poet who went crazy after trying to translate the Necronomicon.

            3. It’s from Newman.

              1. Ah, that desert poet.

              2. The postman on Seinfeld?

                1. Cool Hand Luke Newman.

          2. Except when a question reflects a doubt. Then only 2 questions are needed. A thousand would be overkill.

      2. OK, those are about equal to semiautos. But as far as handguns go there’s a huge difference between semiautos and revolvers.

        You’re talking what, 8 or 9 rounds in a pump action SG with extended mag? That’s not the capacity people are worried about.

        1. With moon clips I can have my revolver reloaded in an instant. There are also speedloaders for shotguns.

          Reloading fast is a problem as old as guns. There are many solutions other than being semiautomatic.

          1. With moon clips I can have my revolver reloaded in an instant.

            Not as fast as a semiauto, since you have to eject the spent cartridges before loading. Plus, small revolvers tend not to be loadable from moon clips.

            1. Tulpa Dumb, is the sensation you get from being an idiot contrarian dipshit merely pleasurable, or is it actually sexual?

              I mean, do you enjoy looking and acting like a retard? Serious question.

            2. I take it you’ve never seen Jerry Miculek in action. Using a revolver he can fire more rounds in 10 seconds than almost anybody armed with a semi-auto. Yeah, it takes more skill to load quickly, but it can be done.

              Also, you and Epi confusing terminology here. Moon clips are used to load rimless cartridges (such as 9mm and .45 ACP) into a revolver. What you two are talking about are speed loaders, and you can get them for just about any revolver design, even for the small-frame five shot revolvers.

              1. No, I specifically meant moon clips, which can be used with rimmed or rimless ammo. Because they remain in the gun, they are the fastest for loading in (with a speed loader, you have to undo the release and hope all the rounds slide in properly) and then allow all the shells to be pulled out at once on a reload.

        2. But as far as handguns go there’s a huge difference between semiautos and revolvers.

          Which is why discerning Banditos carry 3 or more…

          The distinction “semi” vs. “non-semi” is fucking meaningless and stupid.

          Oh, and you’re not worried about -8 “rounds” in a pump SG? So… 70-80 or so 00buck (.32 caliber) ‘bullets’ being sprayed in a crowded room, you somehow think is a non-issue?

          That’s new.

          1. I’m not speaking for myself, I’m speaking for a hypothetical semiautophobe.

            1. I thought you spoke for dipshits everywhere. Aren’t you their spokesman?

              1. I was thinking of speedloaders, sorry.

        3. I have a bolt action with detachable mag that holds 10 rounds.

          And I can hit a target from 1/2 mile away with it.

        4. 8 or 9 rounds in a pump action SG with extended mag

          There’s the KelTec KSG, 15 round pump 12 GA. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kel-Tec_KSG

          1. It’s not 15 rounds, it’s 7+7+1. It has two seven-round magazines and you have to toggle a switch to select between them. It’s important because that fact makes it CA legal.

    2. So what your saying is that when the SWAT Team wrongly no-knock raids your house at 3am, it’s best to have a semi-auto rifle.

      Noted.

    3. Who the fuck is Bittner, and what the fuck is your point?

    4. My bolt action rifle takes a detachable magazine. You can reload it as fast as the one on a semi-auto pistol. You can also fire a double-action revolver about as fast as a semi-auto. Pull the trigger, fire a round. If they made bigger cylinders somehow the two classes would be functionally identical. Throw in speed-loaders and the difference is negligible, I bet.

      1. My bolt action rifle takes a detachable magazine. You can reload it as fast as the one on a semi-auto pistol.

        Point taken, but it’s not as fast as a high capacity semiauto rifle, which he’s probably thinking of.

        You can also fire a double-action revolver about as fast as a semi-auto. Pull the trigger, fire a round.

        I’m not talking about firing speed, I’m talking about reloading. And semiautos are usually faster to get back on target than revolvers after firing, if we want to get super rigorous.

        If they made bigger cylinders somehow the two classes would be functionally identical.

        Cylinders don’t scale like magazines, though. I’ve fired an 8 round revolver which was already almost completely unwieldly due to the cylinder, I’d hate to see what an 18 round revolver has to look like to match my SR9’s capacity (assuming a plausible SD round, not 22lr).

        1. With firing speed I was anticipating another complaint about semi-auto weapons.

        2. How do you know what kind of semi-auto Bittman was thinking of? Bittman placed no qualifications on semi-autos, he stated that “most weapons[…] even semi-automatics, are bought legally”, which was an ignorant statement which showed that he does not understand the subject he’s talking about. It’s perfectly appropriate to call into question the expertise of a syndicated journalist’s writings on a subject given that statement.

        3. And semiautos are usually faster to get back on target than revolvers after firing

          [citation needed], cause neither “Guns” magazine, “American Handgunner”, “Combat Handguns”, etc. etc. etc. nor my own experience would support that statement. I actually find it WAY easier to get back on target wih my revolvers than with my semiautos. Maybe it’s just me….but I don’t think so.

          Do enlighten us all, Clint Smith, Jr.

  2. most weapons used in murders, even semiautomatics, are bought legally.

    This applies (minus the semi-automatic crap) to knives too. So what?

    1. With the number of unsolved murders, I wonder how well they even know if legal guns are used in the majority of shootings?

    2. Technically any firearm not stolen directy from the manufacturer was “bought legally” at least once. It’s the “all guns were once legal so all legal guns need to be banned” argument.

  3. Not knowing what you’re talking about shouldn’t bar you from running your mouth. It’s the American way.

  4. “Does Bittman really mean to draw a distinction between semiautomatic weapons and, say, revolvers, bolt-action rifles, and single-shot pistols, or is he under the mistaken impression that there is something especially sinister about this broad class of guns? You be the judge.”

    No, he has no idea what a semiautomatic weapon is. It just sounds kind of scary to him.

  5. Joe Stalin.
    Now that’s the kind of Leadership (with a capital L) this Nation (with a capital N) needs in desperate times like these.

  6. I especially admire the non sequitur “how many people died while the tobacco companies lied?” because it can be randomly dropped into any empirically shaky plea for government intervention.

    I think this is the anatomy of 90% of every post Tony has made.

  7. “Though gun control is said to be too risky an issue for most politicians, didn’t we elect them for their judgment and will? Otherwise, why not govern by polls and Twitter?”

    Barring any consideration being given that bearing arms is a civil right. Apparently to Bittman, the voters oppostion to gun control should not matter, only Bittman’s idea of what constitutes leadership on that issue should matter.

    1. He’s just pissed that Obama hasn’t raised his mighty sceptre and declared all guns illegal, because he could totally do that if he wanted to, being a leader and all. From this I conclude that Obama wants us all to be shot to death.

      1. Then again, the dead are a very reliable vote in Chicago.

    2. He could suggest taking away guns from African-Americans. That would cut the murder rate about in half. Would he? Ha-ha.

  8. Does Bittman really mean to draw a distinction between semiautomatic weapons and, say, revolvers, bolt-action rifles, and single-shot pistols, or is he under the mistaken impression that there is something especially sinister about this broad class of guns? You be the judge.

    He means that he is completely aware that the majority of NYT readers have never handled firearms in their lives, and the term semiautomatic immediately sends urine cascading down their pant legs.

    1. I have a question. I don’t believe for a minute that gun-control types want to ban firearms because they’re afraid someone they don’t know might use one to kill someone else they don’t know. They have no sympathy AT ALL for the self-defense argument, not even when it’s a woman trying not to get raped. Their motivation is a complete mystery to me. What is their issue with firearms?

      1. I am completely baffled by the feminist opposition to firearms given that they are the great equalizer in a confrontation.

        If the complete elimination of firearms were to miraculously occur (it wont and can’t) women would be put at an even greater disadvantage in a conflict with a either a knife wielding mugger or really any man who is likely to be larger and stronger.

        1. There is a certain amount of magical thinking that (feminist) women participate in regarding physical superiority of men. It’s best exemplified by the Charlie’s Angels movie franchise in which a trio of skinny chicks kick ass without using guns at all.

          As to leftists: they sincerely believe, “why should you do something when the government can do it for you?” You don’t need to protect yourself, we have police for that. The fact police != bodyguards does not occur to these people.

          1. “The fact police != bodyguards does not occur to these people.”

            Exactly, how many stories do you read about the police stopping a potential murder in progress?

            Maybe what we need is an American Crime Aversion Bureau.

        2. I am completely baffled by the feminist opposition to firearms

          Gunz are scary looking, m’kay?

        3. If the complete elimination of firearms were to miraculously occur

          “We don’t have to imagine a world without guns. Humanity already lived through it.” Oleg Volk at http://olegvolk.net/blog/2012/…..hrough-it/

      2. What is their issue with firearms?
        It comes back, again, to people emoting instead of reasoning. While the saying “guns are bad, m’kay” is brutally honest it is the amount of thought most if not all anti-gun people have applied to their positions. The fact that it would prevent the very weak from defending themselves requires actual thought, instead of just being “against something bad”.

        1. Heh. After I posted the above, I read your post. M’kay?

        2. You’re giving them too much credit. If it were merely a matter of not having put thought into it, they would change their minds when presented with that scenario.

          No, it’s an article of faith with them.

      3. What is their issue with firearms?

        The second most common reaction I get when a woman gets over being afraid of firearms by putting a nice group in a target is, “This is empowering.”

        When people are empowered they won’t let anyone run their life for them.

    1. Oops, no it’s Jacob Sullum, apparently.

  9. FALSE: Politicians are my leaders.

  10. Bittman wants to “make gun purchases more difficult, especially for disturbed people who appear to think they’re part of some ‘solution’ to a series of ‘problems’ identified by hatemongers.”

    What if they’re not “disturbed”? That would be most politicians, wouldn’t it?

  11. was acting in a weird manner

    See you guys in Marion.

  12. as a firearms instructor, IN MY EXPERIENCE (hundreds of students) the average firearms user can reload a semi-auto faster than the average firearms user who carries a revolver can reload it (and yes, i am including moon clips, speed loaders etc.)

    a VERY skilled practitioner can do either lightning fast.

    a semi-auto, such as the glock 9mm is a more useful tool for mass shootings – more rds per reload, given a roughly equivalent stopping power revolver

    many firearms advocates will lie or obfuscate trying to claim semi-autos offer NO advantage.

    that’s just cognitive dissonance crap

    however… so fucking what?

    it doesn’t mean that the right to own and carry a semi-auto is not a civil right , per the 2nd amendment

    the best defense to mass shooters is an armed citizenry

    we don’t throw away the constitution because of the extremely rare tragedy of a mass shooter

    furthermore, even if we banned semi-autos from private ownership, there are still scores of millions in circulation which could never be removed without gross civil rights violation and illegal search

    so, in brief- do semi-autos offer an advantage to mass shooters?

    of COURSE. semi-autos were INVENTED for a reason. they are more effective than revolvers at expending a lot of rounds.

    1. You can say that again!

  13. as a firearms instructor, IN MY EXPERIENCE (hundreds of students) the average firearms user can reload a semi-auto faster than the average firearms user who carries a revolver can reload it (and yes, i am including moon clips, speed loaders etc.)

    a VERY skilled practitioner can do either lightning fast.

    a semi-auto, such as the glock 9mm is a more useful tool for mass shootings – more rds per reload, given a roughly equivalent stopping power revolver

    many firearms advocates will lie or obfuscate trying to claim semi-autos offer NO advantage.

    that’s just cognitive dissonance crap

    however… so fucking what?

    it doesn’t mean that the right to own and carry a semi-auto is not a civil right , per the 2nd amendment

    the best defense to mass shooters is an armed citizenry

    we don’t throw away the constitution because of the extremely rare tragedy of a mass shooter

    furthermore, even if we banned semi-autos from private ownership, there are still scores of millions in circulation which could never be removed without gross civil rights violation and illegal search

    so, in brief- do semi-autos offer an advantage to mass shooters?

    of COURSE. semi-autos were INVENTED for a reason. they are more effective than revolvers at expending a lot of rounds.

    1. it doesn’t mean that the right to own and carry a semi-auto is not a civil right , per the 2nd amendment

      the best defense to mass shooters is an armed citizenry

      Dayum dunphy…look at you finding that nut.

      1. If you guys would listen a bit more, you might find that dunphy’s mostly okay – especially as you get away from cop issues.

        1. And I think that has a lot to do with being waayyyyy to close to the subject to have objectivity.

          1. i certainly accept that’s possible. i’d be acting like sloopy et al if i denied that.

            experience affects belief

            but consider this. i have BEEN shot at. i have been in shootouts. my best friend was shot and killed by a BGD gangster he likely did not frisk (he was an attorney and hyper sensitive about pat frisks), i have seen and been involved in MANY shoot/don’t shoot scenarios, i have testified in death investigations, i have responded to scores of defensive uses of force by CIVILIANS (quote unquote) as well as cops

            my beliefs are based on my experiences, which DIFFER from the ivory tower types here. they are also based on a LOT of study of UOF case law – since i am an instructor for pete’s sake

            imo, the natural distrust/dislike of authority and the natural bias to believe the “other side” and not the police is a big part of our disconnect.

            if you are hostile to, let alone HATE the police (as many here have admitted to) what chance is there of being objective about them, and their uof?

            1. I think the disconnect is that as an officer your more likely to give your fellow officers (coworkers) the benefit of the doubt in ways that the public at large does not.

              This happens in every profession, as we assume our knowledge of the inner workings of it give us insight into the situation that the public does not have (which is true). However, often times this knowledge is used to excuse behavior since we relate better to the coworker than to the person on the other end of the transaction.

              So for example, I work in a restaurant and I often read reviews on places like Yelp. Whenever I do I find that I will almost never sympathize with the guest unless I find that their story to include gross misconduct on the part of the server (like they were cussed out). I will look at their complaints and poke holes in them because they don’t work in a restaurant, they don’t know what it’s like and what the job actually entails. At the end of the day though my view is never going to be held by the majority of the public and everyone in my business realizes that their conduct/behavior/demeanor is always going to be held up to a higher standard and always be scrutinized.

              1. i think the public at large DOES give the benefit of the doubt to cops, just like i do. i think polling data, as well as my personal experience supports that

                let’s remember, reason.com cop “haters” are very UNrepresentative of the public at large.

                ime, the public overwhelmingly DOES give us the benefit of the doubt, and that’s also why juries are, ceteris paribus, constantly acquitting and hung jurying cops, even in cases where i might think the cop was guilty as fuck

                my recognition that i am prone to give the benefit of the doubt is implicit when i go AGAINST doing same and use “assuming the fact pattern as presented is correct” because usually in those cases i am assuming the complaints against the cop is in fact correct

                that aside, i respect that you do respect that i *do* have ‘special’ knowledge that many here don’t, and i also look at stats (prior to me i dont ever recall anybody remarking on how shockingly rarely police even use ANY force whatsoever)

                that aside i respect both the civility and the content of your post

                (continued…)

                1. like i said, *i* admit that my profession MAY lead me to have bias, whether or not the admitted cop haters and obvious cop haters will EVER admit bias when it’s clear they have it.

                  and i think i am not prone to excuse bad behavior. when i see what i believe is excessive force (like the SPD case i posted the other day where the cop shoved the guy a couple of time), i am the first to criticize it and call for punishment.

                  i believe those instances are glossed over when i defend a UOF that many people here (whose knowledge of relevant case law could fit in a thimble) do not agree with

                  again, i appreciate the civility and the thoughtfulness. quite refreshing
                  cheers

                2. i think the public at large DOES give the benefit of the doubt to cops, just like i do. i think polling data,

                  From last century.

                  ime, the public overwhelmingly DOES give us the benefit of the doubt, and that’s also why juries are, ceteris paribus, constantly acquitting and hung jurying cops, even in cases where i might think the cop was guilty as fuck

                  It’s not the public at large, it’s the idiots they select for the juries.

                  Unless you also think that there was overwhelming public support for O.J. as well.

            2. my beliefs are based on my experiences, which DIFFER from the ivory tower types here.

              Actually, most of us here base our beliefs on our experiences, though you either say that we must have been acting like dicks or were lying.

              1. i say it’s most likely true… not necessarily so, because a lifetime of experience showa me that in interpersonal encounters, atittude and disrespect are substantially more likely to lead to undesired results. again, ALL interpersonal encounters, not just with cops.

                and again, the fact that paul schene, for example, who i think was guilty as hell GOT OFF (he was tried twice, a double standard for a misdemeanor AGAINST a cop… can’t recall the last gross misdemeanor i saw that happen. very rare) isn’t because (here comes the libertarian elitism again…) juries are stupid. imo, it’s because they gave him TOO much benefit of the doubt.

                i get SO tired of the “i am so much smarter than everybody else” crap amongst all the “special ” people here.

                as for the polling data (and my n=LOTS) of personal experiences showing the public supports us, you have NO data to the contrary.

                sure, some of those polling reports aren’t super recent

                find me data that contradicts my claim. because the reality is, until you do, i am going to continue to believe what my eyes, ears, and polling data says- most americans like and respect the police.

                1. So yes to O.J. then?

                  find me data that contradicts my claim.

                  Seattle. Anaheim. New Orleans. Google away.

                2. i get SO tired of the “i am so much smarter than everybody else” crap amongst all the “special ” people here.

                  Good for you. Why is that relevant? I already said that the public at large wasn’t that stupid. You’re the one that seems to think they are.

                3. I agree with you that most of the general public supports the police. But that just reflects the public’s ignorance and naivete, as well as the overwhelmingly favorable treatment of law enforcement in the news and popular culture.
                  It has nothing to do with the trustworthiness,character or behavior of those in law enforcement.

  14. I thinking earlier when reading this bit of unfortunate news about Fareed Zakaria plagiarizing Jill Lepore.

    We really need to start having a serious discussion about banning the CTRL + C and CTRL + V shortcuts. During most people’s normal writing, we usually stick to original thoughts. All these unnecessary things do is make it easier for people to commit plagiarism.

    Power like this should be left to the legitimate use of the Gov’t.

    1. I CTRL + C what you did there.

  15. I am in the process of buying a shotgun, Browning Citori 12 gauge. I made a deal using an online auction, GunsAmerica. The seller lives in Florida, I live in California. I had to negotiate with my local gun shop and they had to FAX a copy of their FFL to a gun shop in Florida who acted as the intermediary for the seller. The gun will be shipped by the seller’s dealer to my dealer. My dealer runs the background check on me before he will turn over the gun to me.

    The process is anything but simple.

    I long for the good ole days when you placed your order with Montgomery Ward’s and a week later the post man delivered your shotgun (rifle, pistol) to your door.

    1. That’s only because you’re buying out of state from a non-FFL. If you go into a gun dealer in person, or order online from an FFL holder with a shop in your area (eg Gander Mtn), it’s as easy as pie.

      1. Yeah, then it only requires a 10 day waiting period, and a background check. Just like buying a book from Amazon.

  16. Holy fuck. What comes after military grade stupid?

    Ah, never mind. New York Times grade stupid.

    1. I was going to argue with that, but then I remembered that they gave Tom Friedman a column. Carry on.

  17. To Bittman, they all come down to the same issue

    Isn’t that always the case, the ruled getting in the way of the enlightened’s Master Plans on how we should eat, what car we should drive, etc? Stay tuned for Bittman’s tonguebath of the Chinese politburo’s knack for getting things done.

  18. “how many people died while the tobacco companies lied?”

    Mr. Sullum is a fool to be referencing anything from the nytimes.

    As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.

  19. “how many people died while the tobacco companies lied?”

    Mr. Sullum is a fool to be referencing anything from the nytimes.

    As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.

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