In a recent editorial, the left-leaning news website Colorado Newsline called on its readers to publicly confront gun owners, because “only when gun absolutists become social pariahs can the nation start to establish comprehensive reform, allowing community members to attend schools, shop at grocery stores and visit nightclubs without fear of being torn to shreds in a blast of bullets.”
The editorial titled “Stop tolerating gun extremists. Shame them” was written by the website’s editor, Quentin Young.
“Castigation must befall anyone who obstructs gun violence prevention,” Mr. Young wrote. “Lawmakers should continue to enact measures to protect constituents from the daily massacres their communities suffer. But members of those communities can participate in the greater reform project by shaming gun proponents wherever they show themselves.”
As if this wasn’t dangerous enough, Young took it a step further, writing that society “should humiliate without restraint those costume-wearing soldier wannabes who show up with their shooters at rallies.”
To be clear, this is an extremely dangerous and irresponsible editorial. It should never have been published. Mr. Young’s shame, humiliation and castigation could easily be read as inciting violence. We have all seen the savagery the left uses when confronting those with whom they disagree. All that’s needed for a full-blown riot is for someone to point his readers in the wrong direction and light the fuse, and Mr. Young certainly did just that with his rash and incautious column.
Colorado Newsline should immediately retract the editorial and issue a public apology.
The majority of Mr. Young’s thesaurus-driven work is nothing more than the usual anti-gun talking points, which are so overblown his piece is left nearly unreadable.
“Reform is thwarted by cowardice, corruption and craziness,” he wrote. “As young children are slaughtered in their classrooms, conservative officials desecrate their memory by suggesting their deaths are the price of freedom. As mass shootings become a daily occurence (sic), gun-rights zealots double down on the bloodthirsty fantasy that more guns is (sic) the answer.”
Young reserves his harshest words for Colorado Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, a pro-gun Republican and one of his favorite targets.
“The Second Amendment won’t be repealed anytime soon, but Americans can at least begin a cultural shift and re-imagine (sic) what the law means,” Mr. Young wrote. “Society should no longer tolerate the kind of depraved fanaticism that allows someone like Rep. Lauren Boeberrt (sic) to tweet a Christmas greeting with her young sons brandishing weapons of war.”
Colorado Newsline claims to be a “nonprofit, nonpartisan, independent source of online news,” but like its editor, it leans strongly to the left. It is part of States Newsroom, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit, which also leans very left. According to Influence Watch: “A past job posting by States Newsroom referred to the organization as a ‘progressive political journalism startup.’”
States Newsroom organizes stories from its affiliates into four categories: “rising trends, attacks on LGBTQ equality, reproductive rights and gun violence.” All of States Newsroom’s senior leadership came from left-wing media organizations. However, Colorado Newsline claims it maintains editorial independence from States Newsroom and that all editorial decisions are made locally. That claim is certainly suspect.
Seasoned journalists know the power a call-to-action can have in an editorial, which is why they’re used so sparingly. But make no mistake, what Mr. Young wrote is not a call to action. He incited violence. There is no doubt that when someone is harmed because of his work he will seek shelter behind the First Amendment, even though his column is the journalistic equivalent of yelling Fire! in a crowded theater and, therefore not constitutionally protected speech.
I sincerely hope Mr. Young will delete this dangerous editorial and apologize to his readers before someone is harmed. It’s the right thing to do. It also wouldn’t hurt to ditch the thesaurus co-author and invest in a good spell checker.
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About Lee Williams
Lee Williams, who is also known as “The Gun Writer,” is the chief editor of the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project. Until recently, he was also an editor for a daily newspaper in Florida. Before becoming an editor, Lee was an investigative reporter at newspapers in three states and a U.S. Territory. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a police officer. Before becoming a cop, Lee served in the Army. He’s earned more than a dozen national journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. Lee is an avid tactical shooter.