As Hollywood puts slavery back in the American consciousness and the reaction to the Newtown, Conn., shootings has the Second Amendment on the front burner, an author and talk-show host links the two in an intriguing way.
"The Second Amendment was Ratified to Preserve Slavery," reads the headline over a piece by Thom Hartmann posted Tuesday on Truthout, a site that "works to spark action by revealing systemic injustice and providing a platform for transformative ideas, through in-depth investigative reporting and critical analysis."
It begins, "The real reason the Second Amendment was ratified, and why it says 'State' instead of 'Country' (the Framers knew the difference — see the 10th Amendment), was to preserve the slave patrol militias in the southern states, which was necessary to get Virginia's vote. Founders Patrick Henry, George Mason, and James Madison were totally clear on that . . . and we all should be too.
"In the beginning, there were the militias. In the South, they were also called the 'slave patrols,' and they were regulated by the states.
"In Georgia, for example, a generation before the American Revolution, laws were passed in 1755 and 1757 that required all plantation owners or their male white employees to be members of the Georgia Militia, and for those armed militia members to make monthly inspections of the quarters of all slaves in the state. The law defined which counties had which armed militias and even required armed militia members to keep a keen eye out for slaves who may be planning uprisings.
". . . So Madison, who had (at [Thomas] Jefferson's insistence) already begun to prepare proposed amendments to the Constitution, changed his first draft of one that addressed the militia issue to make sure it was unambiguous that the southern states could maintain their slave patrol militias.
"His first draft for what became the Second Amendment had said: 'The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed, and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country [emphasis mine]: but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms, shall be compelled to render military service in person.'
"But Henry, Mason and others wanted southern states to preserve their slave-patrol militias independent of the federal government. So Madison changed the word 'country' to the word 'state,' and redrafted the Second Amendment into today's form:
" 'A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State [emphasis mine], the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.' . . . "
Journalist Charles E. Cobb Jr., former field secretary of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and a founder of the National Association of Black Journalists, is writing a book that argues that "without the armed protection given to civil rights workers by farmers and others, there would have been a lot more deaths" during the civil rights movement, he told Journal-isms by telephone Wednesday. Still, Cobb favors gun control, saying, "What I think is essential is registration."
Asked about the coverage of today's gun debate, Cobb said, "I wish there were more discussion about the culture of guns in the United States, in this kind of society. Guns are romanticized, and you don't hear anything about black resistance, like slave rebellions. . . . This is a frontier society, [and] in that it can't be compared to France or England or Germany," as is often done when gun violence is discussed.
Cobb said that when the Constitution was written, there were two major strands of concern: African slave rebellions and Indian attacks. "The larger question is who gets away with killing people," he added. "Blacks never get away with it. Minorities never get away with it." Cobb's book, "This Nonviolent Stuff Will Get You Killed," is due from Basic Books next year.
A USA Today/Gallup Poll released Monday showed that the number of whites wanting stricter gun laws increased from 23 percent a year ago to 34 percent this month, but rose more sharply — from 32 percent to 49 percent — among nonwhites.
"Hollywood and the video game industry received scant attention Wednesday when President Barack Obama unveiled sweeping proposals for curbing gun violence [video] in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting," Jake Coyle reported Wednesday for the Associated Press.
"The White House pressed most forcefully for a reluctant Congress to pass universal background checks and bans on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines like the ones used in the Newtown, Conn., school shooting.
"No connection was suggested between bloody entertainment fictions and real-life violence. Instead, the White House is calling on research on the effect of media and video games on gun violence.
"Among the 23 executive measures signed Wednesday by Obama is a directive to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and scientific agencies to conduct research into the causes and prevention of gun violence. The order specifically cited 'investigating the relationship between video games, media images and violence.'
"The measure meant that media would not be exempt from conversations about violence, but it also suggested the White House would not make Hollywood, television networks and video game makers a central part of the discussion. It's a relative footnote in the White House's broad, multi-point plan, and Obama did not mention violence in media in his remarks Wednesday. . . . "
"The Radio-Television Digital News Association is calling on New York lawmakers and Governor Andrew Cuomo to restore automatic public access to the state's gun permit records," the association said on Wednesday.
Portions of New York's new gun control law (Senate Bill 2230/Assembly Bill 2388), adopted by the legislature and signed by Cuomo this week, will require journalists and other citizens to seek special permission from either local public officials or the courts in order to access the records, which until now had been available without such restrictions.
"The provisions were included in the legislation after a suburban New York City newspaper and its website, as part of its coverage in the aftermath of the December 14 school shooting in nearby Newtown, Connecticut, published the names and addresses of gun permit holders in two Lower Hudson Valley counties. The publication of the names and addresses provoked the ire of some New York state lawmakers who believed it violated gun permit owners¹ rights to privacy and security.
" 'This is clearly a wild overreaction to the decision to publish the names,' said Mike Cavender, RTDNA Executive Director. 'Closing off public records is an excessive and inappropriate response, and we respectfully urge Governor Cuomo and New York legislators to restore the public¹s access to this information.'
"That stated, RTDNA believes the controversy could be used as a catalyst for dialog to determine ways to balance the rights of people to access important public information and the obligation of journalists to report on stories of vital interest in a responsible way. . . ."
The Journal News, the newspaper that published the names and addresses of the permit holders, quoted Janet Hasson, president and publisher of the Journal News Media Group. "We are disappointed with the broad nature of several exemptions in the law and lack of opportunity for any reasonable period for public comment or discussion," she said, referring to the provisions that would shield information about gun-permit holders. "We are reviewing the law and the impact it might have on publication of permit data in the future."
Peter Baker, New York Times: In Gun Debate, Even Language Can Be Loaded
David Bauder, Associated Press: A Disconnect Between Violence And TV
Charles M. Blow, New York Times: Revolutionary Language
Dylan Byers, Politico: In defense of the 'Journal News' gun map
Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post: Three strikes for the NRA
David Carr, New York Times: Guns, Maps and Data That Disturb
Lewis W. Diuguid, Kansas City Star: We should oppose efforts to liberalize gun laws
Chip Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle: Oakland leaders have lost grip on violence
John McWhorter, Daily News, New York: Call it gun murder, not 'gun violence'
Courtland Milloy, Washington Post: On MLK holiday, walking for civil rights and the Second Amendment
Phillip Morris, Plain Dealer, Cleveland: Guns on teachers is not the best solution to securing our schools
Ana Veciana Suarez, Miami Herald: In the wake of Sandy Hook, can we really keep kids safe?
Laura Washington, Chicago Sun-Times: Gunshots, not flu, the real epidemic
"The jobs of 34 Star-Ledger employees — including nearly 10 percent of the newsroom — are being eliminated in the first large-scale layoffs in the history of the state's largest daily newspaper, publisher Richard Vezza said this morning," Ted Sherman and Kelly Heyboer reported Wednesday for the Star-Ledger in Newark.
"Eighteen part- and full-time staffers in The Star-Ledger's newsroom of 195 employees are expected to be laid off today, along with 16 positions in other departments. The totals include 19 full-time employees and 15 part-time positions. . . ." It could not be confirmed that journalists of color were among those laid off.
Meanwhile, "A slow economic recovery coupled with industry challenges led to the elimination of 11 jobs at South Jersey Times," like the Star-Ledger owned by Advance Publications, the Times announced Wednesday. The newspaper serves readers in Gloucester, Salem, Cumberland and parts of Camden counties.
In New York, "Digital First Media, which operates MediaNews Group, Journal Register Company and Digital First Ventures, today announced The Oneida Daily Dispatch is launching a new digitally focused publishing schedule that includes expanded online, mobile and electronic offerings and a change to a three-day print schedule," the Oneida paper reported.
Oxygen Media confirmed that it has pulled the plug on "All My Babies' Mamas," a reality special the network was developing about a musician who has fathered 11 children with 10 different mothers, Frazier Moore reported Tuesday for the Associated Press.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Oxygen said that, "as part of our development process, we have reviewed casting and decided not to move forward with the special." Allison Samuels of the Daily Beast reported the cancellation on Monday, citing "my sources."
"The program was initially slated for release this spring as a one hour reality special on Oxygen TV," Courtney Garcia and Chris Witherspoon reported Tuesday for the Grio. "The show would follow Shawty Lo and his 11 children by ten different mothers. According to Oxygen, 'Shawty Lo and his family were considered for the show, but other families were being considered as well.' "
MTV News reported Wednesday, "Now the 'Dey Know' rapper is saying that he understands the public concern, but the people have it all wrong.
" 'Yeah I really understand. They have the right to think that, but at least give the show a chance, to see what's goin' on,' L-O pleaded when he spoke with Emperor Searcy and Mz Shyneka from Hot 107.9 in Atlanta on Wednesday (January 16). 'They makin' their assumptions off a 13-minute trailer and this like the biggest news around the world right now and it's unbelievable. ' "
The rapper told MTV News earlier, "You can hate all you want to, I didn't ask for it. It just happened. Now that it happened, I'm supposed to turn my back against it," he said. "If I wasn't taking care of my kids then you would really dog me out, but I'm taking care of my kids, providing for my family. I don't know what else to say."
"I take care of all my kids. … Outta all the 10 baby mamas, I just have problems outta one. That's it," he continued. "She has two kids by me, and she feel like I'm supposed to do more for her kids, and she don't wanna work. She just want me to straight take care of them, but it's all love. I handle it … It's a lot of fathers don't take care of one; I gotta deal with 11."
Annette John-Hall, Philadelphia Inquirer: Series is trifling with life's final dignity
The Gannett-owned Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, N.Y., unveiled "Unite Rochester," a new initiative "designed to promote awareness about racial issues and to find new, more inclusive ways to work together to solve community problems," in a column Sunday by Editor Karen Magnuson.
". . . There is no better time to conduct a communitywide conversation," Magnuson wrote. The Rochester Museum & Science Center is hosting a national touring exhibit [PDF] on the topic, and several local organizations are conducting community events to extend the dialogue.
"The Democrat and Chronicle will publish a series of special reports about race and racism during and after the exhibit. The first installment, to be published Jan. 20, will reveal the results of a poll about racial attitudes and race-related topics in Monroe County. We worked in collaboration with Act Rochester and the Rochester Area Community Foundation to commission the poll by Siena College Research Institute and thank them for their contributions.
"Our Editorial Board also will weigh in regularly with editorials and publish letters and essays from citizens and community leaders.
"The most important contributor, however, is you. If we are going to be successful in conducting a community conversation, we all need to step outside of our comfort zones to share our experiences, ask good questions and provide respectful responses."
Magnuson co-chairs the Diversity Committee of the American Society of News Editors. She told Journal-isms by email that the Unite Rochester Facebook page has already notched more than 200 "likes" and is "building more momentum every day. We were invited by a competing TV news organization to talk about the project for a weekly program that focuses on the diversity of our community. It was taped earlier today and will air Sunday. . . .
"We launched with a simple splash page but [are] rolling out a full web section this weekend along with the results of a scientific poll about racial attitudes in Monroe County. . . ."
Magnuson said she was consulting with other editors of color and with community members.
"Oprah Winfrey's cable network OWN is close to selling out advertising time at premium prices for the highly anticipated televised doping confession by former cycling champion Lance Armstrong, a senior network executive said," Lisa Richwine and Liana B. Baker reported Tuesday for Reuters.
"The network, a joint venture with Discovery Communications Inc, expects to sell all of the remaining commercial time for the two-part version of 'Oprah's Next Chapter,' OWN President Erik Logan said in an interview late on Tuesday.
"Both current and new sponsors have been calling to secure ad time during the telecast, which airs in primetime on Thursday and Friday, Logan said. . . . "
Jenice Armstrong, Philadelphia Daily News: Armstrong slinks into Oprah's welcome arms for confession
Andrea Morabito, Broadcasting & Cable: Lance Armstrong is OWN's Latest Grab for Ratings
African Media Quiet on French Intervention in Mali
"African media commentators have been generally muted about the French military intervention in Mali, where however, one paper hailed President Francois Hollande as a saviour," the BBC reported on Monday.
"In the wider world, support for France's actions is mixed, with some Chinese and Middle Eastern writers expressing suspicion about France's motives.
"And in France, some commentators warn that the involvement of troops from a former colonial power is fraught with dire consequences.
"The Russian press appears supportive of the offensive, intended to help the Malian government to free northern Mali from Islamist control, but Chinese pundits suspect the French president of using military action abroad to prop up his popularity at home. . . ."
J. Peter Pham, Gregory Mann, Anouar Boukhars, Mark Schroeder, Robert R. Fowler, New York Times "Room for Debate": A New Line in the Sand Against Terror?
Bruce Whitehouse, Bridges from Bamako blog: Behind Mali's conflict: myths, realities & unknowns
It's becoming less rare for a journalism organization to ban working fellow journalists from its events, but the D.C. chapter of National Association of Hispanic Journalists is doing so for its membership drive and mixer Sunday. The attractions are San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro and Telemundo Anchor José Díaz-Balart. "The NAHJ D.C. Chapter Board declared the Chapter Mixer and Membership Drive a private event. So there will not be any media availability for our special guests," Brandon Benavides, chapter president, wrote on the group's web page. "We reached capacity," he wrote.
Dr. Everett C. Parker, who in 1955 founded the modern media reform movement as founding director of the Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ, turns 100 on Thursday. In the 1960s, Parker played a key role in having the license of WLBT-TV in Jackson, Miss., revoked, the only time the government has yanked a station's license for failing to serve the public interest. WLBT attempted to squelch the voices of the civil rights movement of the time. A consortium of groups that included African Americans won the license.
"Native Angeleno and Emmy Award winner Elizabeth Espinosa will host Sin Límites, a new program with CNN Latino that will broadcast on KBEH-DT Channel 63 in Los Angeles," CNN announced Wednesday. CNN Latino is a new Spanish-language programming service tailored for broadcast TV stations that launches Jan. 28.
"Some Latino civil rights groups are questioning the U.S. Census consideration of designating Hispanics a race of their own, fearing the loss of national original designations," Tony Castro reported Jan. 8 for voxxi.com. "The change, making 'Hispanic' a racial instead of an ethnic category, would eliminate the check-off boxes for national origins such as Mexican, Cuban and Puerto Rican."
In New York, McDonalds is honoring Black History Month with its Black Media Legends and Trailblazers ceremony on Feb. 1, Jerry Barmash reported Tuesday for FishbowlNY. Among the 18 honorees are recently retired WNBC-TV anchor Sue Simmons; WPIX-TV reporter Jay Dow; Errol Louis, host of NY1's "Inside City Hall"; John Noel of WNBC-TV; Deon Levingston of WBLS-FM and WLIB-AM; Fatiyn Muhammad of WBLS-FM; DJ Clue of WWPR-FM and Robert F. Moore, a managing editor of the Daily News.
"The population of people reading newspapers has aged dramatically in the last three years to the point that nearly three-quarters of the audience is aged 45 or older, according to my analysis of survey and census data," Alan D. Mutter wrote Tuesday on his Reflections of a Newsosaur site.
March 15 is the deadline for high school students of any ethnicity to apply for JCamp 2013, sponsored by the Asian American Journalists Association. The camp takes place June 21 to 26 at George Washington University in the nation's capital. High school freshmen, sophomores and juniors are encouraged to apply to the program. All expenses are paid.
"Israeli soldiers prevented journalists from covering the eviction of a Palestinian campsite in the West Bank on Sunday, according to news reports and local press freedom organizations," the Committee to Protect Journalists reported on Tuesday. "The journalists worked for international news outlets including The Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France-Presse, CNN, and Al-Jazeera, as well as local media including Raya FM radio station and Palestine TV, according to the same sources."
"Police in Somalia have arrested a journalist who wrote a story about a woman who said she was raped by government security forces, prompting an outcry from human and media rights groups," the Associated Press reported. "Human Rights Watch is demanding the immediate release of Somali journalist Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim, a freelance journalist who was arrested by police on Thursday after interviewing the woman. . . . "
"A new report from Microsoft Research highlights the role Twitter users in Mexico play in reporting violence from organized crime as an alternative to the censorship criminal groups exercise against traditional media," Tania Lara reported for the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas. ". . . The authors hypothesize that curators and Twitter users have moved in to fill the information gap left by many traditional media organizations. . . ."
In Panama, "Journalist Guillermo Antonio 'Niño' Adames, host [of] RPC TV's program Debate Abierto, claimed that two suspects wearing police uniforms stopped him while he was driving his car in a residential zone in Panama City, the capital," Tania Lara reported for the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas. "The suspects forced their way into his car and the journalist escaped by jumping out of the vehicle while it was still in motion, according to La Estrella. . . . "
In Nigeria, "Unidentified men shot dead Ikechukwu Udendu, editor of Anambra News, a monthly newspaper in southeastern Anambra state, while he was returning home at night from a commercial printing house in the city of Onitsha, news reports said," the Committee to Protect Journalists reported Tuesday.
Steve Harvey "will give Clear Channel at least another five years," Radio Ink reported Tuesday. "His morning show, which has been syndicated by Clear Channel-owned Premiere since 2005, is on just under 70 stations. Harvey will also work with Clear Channel on joint ventures including the international expansion of his radio show, development and creation of new programming and promotions, community and charitable events, as well as multimedia projects and events. He will also serve as a spokesperson for the company."
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Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (mije.org). Reprinted on The Root by permission.