Category Archives: NRA

Press Freedom Accountability Survey

 

By Carol Benedict

On Saturday, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) voiced concern over President Donald Trump lashing out at press reporters, agencies and bureaus that reported news not to his liking,  “at one point declaring it “the enemy of the American People!”, According to a report. McCain further stated on NBC News in an interview set to air Sunday, that was “how dictators get started.”

After witnessing 8 years of press coverage claiming that 2nd Amendment rights were being threatened under the Obama Administration, we saw gun and ammo sales skyrocket across the nation. After passing the first sensible gun law in decades following the horrific tragedy of Sandy Hook, the Trump Administration has already stripped that back, allowing those gains to be lost after the majority of Americans approved of those particular regulations.

We wonder where those same people are now, to defend the 1st Amendment rights that have not only been decried by a President who has sworn to uphold the Constitution to which those Rights are part and parcel.

All of which leads to the subject of this post. On Thursday, the Trump campaign put up something called the “Mainstream Media Accountability Survey,”  with questions that looked as if they were left over from the runup to the election. Evidently, they didn’t like the results of that one, for they put up a new one on Friday, appearing on both the Donald Trump and main RNC websites.  The spin given by the Trump organization was that “liberals had skewed the responses.”

The original survey’s source code didn’t have any collection mechanism for the survey’s answers, according to some IT pros we know. Instead, it worked as an email collection/fundraising gimmick; after you completed the survey, you had to enter your email. Once you did this, you were redirected to a donation page. The email collecting and donation page sections did have the appropriate source code needed to populate a database with that info; the survey itself didn’t. And, the fundraising’s legal; Trump filed paperwork for his 2020 run five hours after his inauguration. Hence, this comes under campaign financing laws; in other words, superPACs and unlimited anonymous donating to said entities.

In response to his second survey, we have created this survey to compare question-for-question, asking the American people from every walk of life their views on the 1st Amendment and a free press in America. We are guessing you will easily recognize which survey is which.

This survey is not collecting responses. It is intended for educational purposes.

Press Accountability polls

Do you believe that the press has reported fairly on the new Trump Administration?
Yes
No
No opinion
Do you believe that the mainstream media has reported unfairly on our movement?
Yes
No
No opinion
Do you trust the free press to report fairly on the Trump Adminitration?
Yes
No
No opinion
Do you trust MSNBC to report fairly on Trump's presidency?
Yes
No
No opinion
Do you trust the Trump Administration to report accurately on its own actions?
Yes
No
No opinion
Do you trust CNN to report fairly on Trump's presidency?
Yes
No
No opinion
Do you believe the free press is part of the accountability necessary in a democracy?
Yes
No
No opinion
Do you trust Fox News to report fairly on Trump's presidency?
Yes
No
No opinion
Do you believe the 1st Amendment's wording that "abridging" the freedom of the press means that the press must not be associated with any political party, hold bias, or report unverified information?
Yes
No
No opinion
On which issues does the mainstream media do the worst job of representing Republicans? (Select as many that apply.)
Immigration
Economics
Pro-life values
Religion
Individual liberty
Conservatism
Foreign policy
Second Amendment rights
What source do you primarily get your news from?
Television/Cable news
Print or online news publications
Online journals/blogs
Other (please specify):
Which television source do you primarily get your news from?
Fox News
CNN
MSNBC
Local news
How do you know if the source you use is credible?Do you use a source not listed above?


Do you trust the press to report accurately on the activities of the Congress?
Yes
No
No opinion
Which online source do you use the most?


Do you trust the press to report accurately on the activities of the Courts?
Yes
No
No opinion
Do you trust the mainstream media to tell the truth about the Republican Party’s positions and actions?
Yes
No
No opinion
Other, please specify:

Do you believe the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, and Kellyanne Conway, do due diligence fact checking before discussing stories the free press can not verify as actually having happened?
Yes
No
No opinion
Do you believe that the mainstream media does not do their due diligence fact-checking before publishing stories on the Trump administration?
Yes
No
No opinion
Other, please specify:

What do you believe the executive order regarding people from Muslim countries was targeted to do?
Prevent Muslims from entering the US
Prevent terrorists from entering the US
Punish businesses that associate with or hire Muslims
Punish students and families of American Muslims
Other (please specify):
Do you believe that the media unfairly reported on President Trump’s executive order temporarily restricting people entering our country from nations compromised by radical Islamic terrorism?
Yes
No
No opinion
Other, please specify:

Do you believe the Court was justified in taking action and temporarily banning the order from being enforced?
Yes
No
No Opinion
Were you aware that a poll was released revealing that a majority of Americans actually supported President Trump's temporary restriction executive order?
Yes
No
No opinion
Other, please specify:

Do you believe that radical terrorists acting in this country are primarily not from the seven countries named in the executive order?
Yes
No
No Opinion
Do you believe that political correctness has created biased news coverage on both illegal immigration and radical Islamic terrorism?
Yes
No
No opinion
Other, please specify:

Do you believe that President Trump has substantial powers that can not be questioned?
Yes
No
No Opinion
Do you believe that contrary to what the media says, raising taxes does not create jobs?
Yes
No
No opinion
Other, please specify:

Do you believe that people of non-Christian faiths have been unfairly characterized by the Trump Adminstration?
Yes
No
No opinion
Other, please specify:
Do you believe that people of faith have been unfairly characterized by the media?
Yes
No
No opinion
Other, please specify:

Do you believe that the 1st Amendment is as equally fundamental and important as the 2nd Amendment?
Yes
No
No Opinion
Do you believe that the media wrongly attributes gun violence to Second Amendment rights?
Yes
No
No opinion
Other, please specify:

Do you support this Administration's and Congress's decisions to abolish the Endangered Species Act, The Department of Education, the Environmental Protection Agency and other Departments?
Yes
No
Other (Please specify):
Do you believe that the media has been far too quick to spread false stories about our movement?
Yes
No
No opinion
Other, please specify:

Do you believe the press should pursue reports of Russian interference in US politics before, during and since the 2016 election?
Yes
No
Other (please specify):
Do you believe that the media uses slurs rather than facts to attack conservative stances on issues like border control, religious liberties, and ObamaCare?
Yes
No
No opinion
Other, please specify:

Do you believe the US Intelligence community has a responsibility to the American people to investigate and vett officials within the Administration?
Yes
No
Other (Please specify):
Do you believe that the media purposely tries to divide Republicans against each other in order to help elect Democrats?
Yes
No
No opinion
Other, please specify:

Do you believe the President was elected by the people, and therefore is accountable to them, or that the President can act without accountability after taking office?
Operate with accountability to the people
Operate without accountability to the people
Other (Explain):
Do you believe that the media creates false feuds within our Party in order to make us seem divided?
Yes
No
No opinion
Other, please specify:

Are you concerned about the international community and the potential for nuclear war more of less since President Trump took office?
More concerned
Less concerned
Was never concerned
Concern did not change
Do you believe that the mainstream media has been too eager to jump to conclusions about rumored stories?
Yes
No
No opinion
Other, please specify:

Do you support the Administration's intention to build a wall across the border with Mexico and continue escalation of deportations of illegal immigrants without further review of the executive orders?
Yes
No
Review is needed similar to a review of the travel ban
Other (Please specify):
Do you believe that if Republicans were obstructing Obama like Democrats are doing to President Trump, the mainstream media would attack Republicans?
Yes
No
No opinion
Other, please specify:

Do you support the Administration being quietly run by top advisor Steve Bannon and family members of President Trump?
Yes
No
Other (Please specify):
Do you agree with the President’s decision to break with tradition by giving lesser known reporters and bloggers the chance to ask the White House Press Secretary questions?
Yes
No
No opinion
Other, please specify:

Do you believe President Trump should have launched his 2020 Presidential Campaign with only 3 weeks in office?
Yes
No, it is too soon
No, he won't last 1 term
No opinion
Do you agree with President Trump’s media strategy to cut through the media’s noise and deliver our message straight to the people?
Yes
No
No opinion
Other, please specify:

Do you believe the American taxpayer should be footing the bill for the First Lady's separate lodging in New York, the White House weekends in Mar-a-Lago Club and the business trips of Ivanka Trump?
Yes
No
Other (please explain):
Do you believe that our Party should spend more time and resources holding the mainstream media accountable?
Yes
No
No opinion

About the Author:
Carol Benedict is an indépendant researcher and human rights activist. She is also an independent Journalist and a professional member of the US Press Association.

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If you give a man a gun: the evolutionary psychology of mass shooting

Thirteen people were shot dead, and 20 are wounded, after a shooting on October 1 at a community college in Roseburg, Oregon. Image via Common Dreams.

Thirteen people were shot dead, and 20 are wounded, after a shooting on October 1 at a community college in Roseburg, Oregon. Image via Common Dreams.

Men commit over 85% of all homicides, 91% of all same-sex homicides and 97% of all same-sex homicides in which the victim and killer aren’t related to each other.

These startling statistics are driven home with each new mass shooting (though the most recent tragedy in San Bernardino, California is a bit unusual in that a married couple were the shooters).

In any event, politicians and the media are trotting out the usual suspects to explain the tragedy, whether it’s the lack of attention paid to mental illness or the easy availability of guns.

But these explanations dance around the big questions: why is there always a man behind these shootings? And why is it almost always a young man?

Evolutionary psychology can provide some clues.

Precarious manhood

Psychologists Joseph Vandello and Jennifer Bosson have coined the term “precarious manhood” to describe a dilemma that only men seem to face.

In a nutshell, they argue that “manhood” – however an individual male’s culture might define it – is a status that must be continually earned. And one’s self-worth is tied to being perceived as a “real man.”

It’s precarious because it can be easily lost – especially if the man fails to measure up to the relentless challenges that life throws at him, be they tests of physical bravery, or competition with other men for respect and status.

When I introduce this concept to my male students, they instantly recognize what I’m talking about. But when I ask the women if there’s a female equivalent, I’m often met with confused looks. (Some do note that the inability to have a child could be a threat to womanhood.) Indeed, it quickly becomes clear in the ensuing discussion that “manhood” is more precarious than “womanhood.”

The roots of this male dilemma reside deep in our prehistoric past. Throughout the animal kingdom, the sex that invests the least in the reproduction of offspring (almost always males) competes among themselves for sexual access to mates.

Historically, powerful men have always enjoyed greater sexual access to women than than men lower in the pecking order, and violence can often be traced to this grim struggle for status. Anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon spent years studying the Yanomamo people of South America. He discovered that men who had killed other men acquired significantly more wives than men who hadn’t killed anyone. And by all indications, a man’s status in the group was often dependent upon how believable his threats of physical violence were.

In different cultures, the male “quest for dominance” may play out in different ways. Regardless, it is clearly a universal motivating principle among males, with the achievement of dominance satisfying and rewarding for those who attain it. As scholar Jonathan Gottschall put it:

To physically dominate another man is intoxicating.

And so, violence committed against the right people at the right time became a ticket to social success.

Competitive drives

For sound evolutionary reasons, younger men find themselves especially concerned with status and dominance.

In early human societies, competitive success or failure in early adulthood determined a man’s standing in a social group for the rest of his life. It wasn’t possible to simply hit the “reset” button and join another group, so what happened during the teen years mattered a lot.

For this reason, high-risk competition between young males provided an opportunity for “showing off” the abilities needed to acquire resources, exhibit strength and meet any challenges to one’s status. Consequently, heroic or even recklessly daredevil behavior was rewarded with status and respect – assuming, of course, that the young man survived the ordeal.

Today, the widespread promotion of sport in our culture undoubtedly developed as a constructive alternative for dealing with the proclivities of young males that evolved in a very different time. In a legally sanctioned gladiatorial arena, young men are able to exhibit the same skills – throwing, clubbing, running, wrestling, tackling, hand-eye coordination – that would have made them successful fighters or hunters in the ancestral environment.

Young Male Syndrome

It’s no secret that most people fear violent behavior by young men more than violent behavior by older men. There’s a sound basis for this fear.

In fact, the tendency of young men to engage in risky, aggressive behavior prompted the Canadian psychologists Margo Wilson and Martin Daly to give it a name: Young Male Syndrome.
The duo studied the relationship among age, sex and homicide victimization in the United States in 1975. They found that the likelihood of a woman being a murder victim doesn’t change dramatically throughout the course of her life. The pattern for the males, on the other hand, is striking. At age 10, males and females have an equal probability of being murdered. But by the time men are into their 20’s, they become six times more likely to be murdered.

Consistent with Wilson and Daly’s data, 87% of the 598 homicide victims in the city of Chicago in 2003 were males, and 64% of the victims were between the ages of 17 and 30. The likelihood of being the victim of lethal violence peaks for men between the late teens and late 20’s, before steadily declining for the rest of their lives.

Nature fuels the fires of male violence by equipping young men with the high levels of testosterone necessary to get the job done.

Studies on chimpanzees – our closest primate relative – have shown that high-ranking male chimpanzees exhibit the highest levels of aggression and the highest levels of testosterone. Furthermore, all adult male chimpanzees experience their highest testosterone levels when they’re in the presence of females who are ovulating. This is associated only with higher levels of aggression – not significant increases in actual sexual activity.

Researchers such as myself who study the relationship between testosterone and aggression in humans have concluded that testosterone-fueled violence is more likely to occur when males are competing with other males, or when the social status of a male is challenged in some way. The increased testosterone facilitates whatever competitive behaviors are needed to meet the challenge, which could mean physical violence.

Many studies have shown that testosterone levels in males rise and fall according to whether the individual wins or loses in competitive sports, like tennis and wrestling – even chess.

Sports fans experience the same spike watching sports, which helps explain the violence and destructive rioting that can take place after big games (win or lose).

Adding guns to the mix

So how do guns figure into this violent equation?

In 2006 I coauthored a laboratory study on men’s responses to guns in the journal Psychological Science with my colleague Tim Kasser and one of our students. We demonstrated that males who interacted with a handgun showed a greater increase in testosterone levels and more aggressive behavior than males who interacted with the board game Mouse Trap.

In the study, each participant dismantled either a gun or the mousetrap, handled its components and then wrote instructions for how to assemble the objects. Then we gave them the opportunity to put hot sauce into water that was going to be consumed by another person. The participants who handled the gun put in significantly more hot sauce – and were also more likely to express disappointment after learning that no one was going to actually drink the concoction.

Thus, cues tied to threats often won’t result in aggressive responses unless testosterone is involved. Elliot Rodger, the disturbed college student whose violent 2014 rampage through Santa Barbara, California, was foretold in a chilling YouTube video, clearly experienced a testosterone surge upon purchasing his first handgun.

“After I picked up the handgun,” he explained, “I brought it back to my room and felt a new sense of power. Who’s the alpha male now, bitches?”

Mass shooter = low-dominant loser?

Young male violence is most likely to be initiated by young men who don’t command respect from others. They’ll often feel like slighted outcasts, deprived of what they want or feel they deserve.

British clinical psychologist Paul Gilbert has developed something he calls the Social Attention Holding Theory. According to Gilbert, we compete with each other to have other people pay attention to us; when other people take notice, we build status. The increased status that comes from having others attend to us leads to all kinds of positive emotions. But persistently being ignored by others produces much darker emotions – especially envy and anger.

It’s no mystery why the media will often describe mass shooters and terrorists as misfits or loners. In many cases, they are.

Nicolas Henin was a Frenchman who was held hostage by ISIS for ten months. Here’s how he described his young, murderous, Jihadi captors:

They present themselves to the public as superheroes, but away from the camera are a bit pathetic in many ways: street kids drunk on ideology and power. In France we have a saying – stupid and evil. I found them more stupid than evil. That is not to understate the murderous potential of stupidity.

Apparently, a lack of attention from others results in a lack of status, resulting in a lack of access to women. Combined with a young man’s testosterone, it creates a toxic, combustible mix.

There may not be much we can do to change the structure of the young male mind that evolved over the course of millions of years. However, ignoring or denying its existence doesn’t do us any favors.The Conversation

Frank T McAndrew, Cornelia H Dudley Professor of Psychology, Knox College

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Editorial Comment:

Before the details of the last mass shooting in San Bernardino were even known, Speaker of the House Raul Ryan spoke about how gun violence in America is a result of mental illness, and stated that the proposed “Murphy’s Law” would make America safer.

Until Congress lifts the ban for doing studies on gun violence in this country, we are only throwing darts at a wall while blindfolded.

The law would take away all privacy safeguards for anyone with mental illness. It then will force incarceration (called “institutionalization” in the bill) and will force this person into a drug regimen that may or may not be the correct course of treatment.

First, the law will serve as a deterrent for anyone thinking of seeking help for mental illness.

Second, the law will focus on disabled people such as returning veterans, violence survivors and others with PTSD and panic disorders.

Thirdly, and worst of all, the law clearly discriminates against a specific segment of the population based on what they might do, completely ignoring any oath of office to protect and uphold the Constitution of this nation.

There is a reason this is dubbed “Murphy’s Law” and we think it is more than coincidental.

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If You Can’t Change Laws, Change Minds

Every once in a while we run across things that give us hope. This is one of those things. The following comes from States United To Prevent Gun Violence, an organization that uses a new approach to an old problem. The rest speaks for itself.

States United To Prevent Gun Violence opens a “gun store” in NYC as a hidden camera social experiment to debunk safety myths. Every gun has a history. Let’s not repeat it. From their website gunswithhistory.com:

“States United to Prevent Gun Violence is a national non-profit organization working to decrease gun death and injury and build healthy communities by supporting and strengthening state gun-violence-prevention organizations and nurturing new state organizations.

Together with our 28 state affiliates – and our combined 200,000 grassroots supporters – we are dedicated to making our families and communities safer through stronger laws, community education, and grassroots action.”

 

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Home After The Holidays

Back in March, we wrote about Marissa Alexander, the Jacksonville, Florida woman who had been sentenced to twenty years in prison for three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after firing her gun into the ceiling to stop her abusive estranged husband.

She had used the same “stand your ground” defense that George Zimmerman had used in his trial for the killing of Trayvon Martin, and the same prosecuting attorney was involved; State Attorney Angela Corey. However, unlike Zimmerman, who was found not guilty after killing Martin, Marissa was found guilty and sentenced to three concurrent twenty year sentences (in 13 minutes, none the less) for firing a gun into a ceiling under Florida’s mandatory minimum guidelines. The other differences? Zimmerman is white and a male, while Marissa is black and a woman. Continue reading

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Arm or Be Armed

NRA Headquarters. By Bjoertvedt (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

NRA Headquarters. By Bjoertvedt (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

This last week, the National Rifle Association (NRA) held their annual convention in Indianapolis, IN. Attended by thousands and featuring speeches from the likes of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, retired Lt. Col. Oliver North and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. While we at Occupy World Writes think the dynamic four should be called a therapy group, we understand they drew substantial support from the crowds.

This follows Georgia’s new gun laws, the most liberal in the country, being signed into law this week. The new law, dubbed “the guns everywhere” law, places the burden of restriction inside public places such as bars and churches on the individual business, does not require the gun owner to carry permit papers with them, and even prevents police from inquiring about a permit unless the gun carrier has committed a crime.

10,000 children are injured or killed every year in this country by the same thing. We should be outraged. If it were a corporation doing this, we would demand laws and criminal processing. If it were a terrorist group, we would demand the almighty forces of our military be used to utterly destroy the enemy. If it were a disease, we would demand the CDC and other government agencies pool their resources and stop at nothing until it could be halted in its tracks.

Flowers for those who died in the Sandy Hook shootings. By VOA (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWCnbZaqP40) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Flowers for those who died in the Sandy Hook shootings. By VOA (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWCnbZaqP40) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

But since it is because of gun violence, we can’t even talk about it. America has passed no federal gun restriction laws since 1993, when President Clinton signed the Brady Bill into law. Since then, we have had a few executive orders signed, the most recent by Pres. Obama in January of 2013 following the Newtown shootings. But there has been no congressional action on this issue, despite studies and reports proving the statistic of our children being slaughtered by 10,000 per year.

I am not an advocate of those who subscribe to the notion that all guns are bad. I hunt, I grew up with firearms and I understand the traditions most Americans cherish in that regard. But I also believe that parents should be able to send their children to school without wondering if they will come home that day. They should not hope someone starts making bullet-proof clothing for children. They should be able to count on their elected officials to respond when the nation faces the loss of our greatest national treasure.

Join Occupy World Writes in our support of Americans For Responsible Solutions. It is worth your time to at least explore and consider the topics presented on their website.

Go ahead – pull the trigger.

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