Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 9, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

GUN CONTROL, MEDIA BIAS, AND ANTI-MISSILE DEFENSE....Glenn Reynolds posted this approximately two minutes after 60 Minutes aired this evening:

JUST SAW AN ENORMOUSLY DISHONEST "60 MINUTES" PIECE on ballistic fingerprinting. It somehow neglected this report indicating that the technology isn't good enough even to satisfy anti-gun California Attorney General Bill Lockyer. Instead, it made it appear as if a few mere technical quibbles on the part of the NRA were the problem, though in fact this report, dated last week, precisely echoes what the NRA representative was saying on "Sixty Minutes."

Pathetic.

Here on the Pacific coast I just got finished watching the 60 Minutes segment he's talking about, and it just goes to show that bias is in the eye of the beholder. I'd already read Glenn's post when the segment came on, so I was on the watch for bias, but you know, I didn't really see any. They quoted the NRA at length, they showed that the system could be defeated, they reported that a New York database had failed to help solve a single crime so far, they talked about difficulties scaling a system to the national level, and they mentioned California's experience with ballistic fingerprinting.

Of course, they did interview a number of people on the other side of the issue too, and it's true that they didn't mention the report Glenn points to. But since the report said "current technological obstacles will be overcome before long" and urged the federal government to "make more research into ballistic identification systems a top priority," I'm not quite sure how that would have helped Glenn's side anyway.

And now you're probably wondering just how this relates to anti-missile defense. Well, as I was watching it occurred to me that opponents of ballistic fingerprinting were insisting that the technology wasn't perfect and it was just stupid to spend another dime on it. And yet, that's what foes of anti-missile defense have been saying for the past two decades. I wonder how many opponents of ballistic fingerprinting think it's just fine to keep pouring money into anti-missile defense?

Kevin Drum 7:53 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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