Bad reporting by the major media has gotten worse. A New York Times article, to fabricate numbers making the murder rate in Baghdad look high, includes in its rate all the deaths from automobile accidents, terrorists killed by coalition forces, and other non-murders. The actual murder rate in Baghdad is lower than that of Washington, D.C. I don't want to minimize the suffering caused by the terrorists in Iraq, but this shows how overblown media reports are, when we have a higher rate in our nation's capital but all the media will focus on is how bad things are in Iraq (without mentioning any of the good most of the time). Both should be covered. It's a question of focus.
I don't really love the NRA, and I don't think I'd ever own a gun. I think the Constitution's insistence on the right to own weapons is outdated. I see no such moral right. Yet this shows that the NRA's arguments about gun control not solving problems of violence are right on target (no pun intended). Iraq allows civilians to own machine guns, which have long been illegal here. If the Baghdad murder rate is lower than D.C.'s, even given all the terrorism there right now, that shows that gun control isn't the solution to our problems.
Unfortunately, most NRA people are libertarians who won't do anything to "interfere with others' liberties" and therefore deal with the moral issues within inner city communities or in the U.S. populace at large (where the violence of divorce and abortion looms just as large as the violence of murder in the inner cities). I'm wondering if there will be good effects of finally having a national leadership with a moral compass, if people would only recognize that reality without the endless rhetoric to the contrary from the myopic pluralism-without-distinction people who rail against every moral decision made by the Bush Administration simply because they need to if they want a chance to get their party into the White House. It's clear to me that they don't believe most of what they're saying (e.g. that it's bad that Saddam Hussein isn't in power anymore, that the war against Iraq wasn't just a worrisome gray area but was thoroughly immoral, that the partial-birth infanticide ban is a violation of some absolute right to abortion not even guaranteed by Roe v. Wade, that basing an evaluation of the threat of Iraq on the same information the Democratic senators on the intelligence committee thought was enough information to go on was lying to the American people, etc.).
What Ken Wilber calls the blue infrastructure of traditional values (see my Dec 5 posting) has been so undermined by those who think freedom comes from doing whatever you want that there's no way for the kind of pluralism many of our leaders insist on to guide today's youth into serious reflection on their lives and values. That very pluralism prevents criticism of the value systems that promote violence. They're more interested in understanding the violent than they are in pointing out that something has gone wrong and trying to figure out how to deal with that (and keep in mind that I'm just as much pointing this criticism at the live-and-let-live attitude toward the more "respectable" violence such as abortion, divorce, date rape, and smoking, though some advances have been made recently in some states on the last).