Friday, October 06, 2006

Teachers + Guns = News Coverage

So Rep. Frank Lasee (R-Bellevue) wants to arm our school teachers.

Jay already did a great job explaining why this is "quite possibly the stupidest idea ever," so I won't get into that here.

But I want to follow-up briefly on a point made by Carrie Lynch, which is that Lasee has garnered himself 15 minutes of fame with this proposal. Carrie says the fact that this proposal has received attention from national news outlets like MSNBC and CNN doesn't exactly speak well of Wisconsin.

I agree. But I also don't think it speaks too highly of national news outlets like MSNBC and CNN.

Although it's no surprise that the mainstream media hit on this story, it's something that does deserve to be questioned. Why would a half-baked idea like this -- which has absolutely zero chance of being passed -- get significant media play while other well thought-out proposals, such as those for providing universal health care, get virtually ignored by the big media outlets?

The simple answer is the old adage that if it bleeds (or, in this case, could lead to bleeding), it leads.

But that just explains why it would get attention, not why it should.

Over the years some legislators have learned to use the old media adage to their advantage. Wisconsin civil rights hero Lloyd Barbee, for one, used to toss out wild proposals from his state legislative seat just to get people to start talking about the topic.

So when Barbee proposed limiting all jail terms to no more than five years and legalizing prostitution, to provide a couple of examples, he didn't actually think those bills should be passed, he just wanted to spark a debate on those topics by establishing an extreme and working back toward a sensible reform from that point.

I suppose what's most concerning about Lasee's proposal is that it seems he actually believes in it whole-heartedly.


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