deadliest deadline

meandering thoughts on the beat

Monday, June 26, 2006

armed journalism

I am neither averse nor intimated by guns. The fact is, I once owned a firearm. It was a gift from my father. Well sort of. Actually, he wanted to buy a new gun, so he gave me his old one, a 9mm pistol. Unfortunately, I don’t think I was a “gun” kind of a person. With my quick temper, I was afraid that one day, I would do some real harm if I continued to keep my firearm. So I sold it to a policeman (my father never got wind of this). The only good thing that came out of that experience is that it trained me to use a firearm in the event that the need arises, which I think is actually a very remote possibility right now. At least I learned something, no matter how insignificant. I'm being defensive here (harhar). By the way, I bought a motorcycle from the proceeds of the gun. My friends tell me I merely exchanged one dangerous thing for another. At least riding a big bike has less to do with machismo (okay okay, I hear howls of protests here) than with plainly indulging my need for speed. Frankly, I am not amused at all by pronouncements by journalists that they should be allowed to arm themselves. And I am shocked that the government would even suggest that arming journalists is one way for the killings of mediamen to stop. The fact of the matter is that most journalists are already armed. Also, nothing, not even the fact that you do have a firearm with you, will discourage any assassin intent on finishing you off. In my dealings with people who carry and brandish firearms, I also realized that the gun is nothing more than a symbol of machismo to the extreme, a throw back to the Wild Wild West where men lived and died by the gun. But is this the type of society we are living in now? Wild west? Nope. Machismo abounding, yes. Case closed, sell the gun. It’s a role-playing fantasy world shaped for us by Hollywood, where good guys (like us) battle away at our perceived attackers by diving on the ground under a hale of bullets and dirt. Time to wake up. It might be part of an age-old male phallic fascination with the firearm. You know, something long and shiny that spits out…well, something. (hehe) Better to have a gun when you need don’t need it than have no gun when you need it? Balderdash, if you ask me. Looking back now, I don’t think I have heard anything more stupid than that. But anyway, I think the best armor and the best deterrent for a journalist from an attack on his or her life is the ethical and professional practice of the profession. Obviously, once a journalist oversteps the thin line of good journalism and a personal and malicious attack on a person, then there is a possibility that there will be threats. Yes, a journalist is always faced with the possibility of doing a story that will tick someone off. But truthfully, its just a matter of getting the other guy's side on the matter. If that's the case, what is there to fear? In my view, absolutely nothing. Maybe the question is best answered by journalists who advocate arming themselves. I don't think I have heard any of them say "we just want to learn to use guns." Its really all "because there is a threat." Oh please. I remembered I was giving a career talk to a private school once and one of the students ask me if I carried a gun. It came to me that this was a common question that people ask me. Its sad that people have this image of the Filipino journalist as a pistol-packing hombre. Its just not right. Okay, I learned to use a gun. But do I have to hone my so-called "skills" any further with visits to the firing range? No thanks and no more. There are more productive ways to while away your time and money. Like riding my big bike, or reading good books, or learning to cook nilagang baka...or something like that.

2 Comments:

At 6/29/2006 10:07:00 AM, Blogger Askinstoo said...

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At 7/10/2006 08:19:00 PM, Blogger Liberal Party of the Philippines said...

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