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Piers Morgan's interview with radio host Alex Jones on Monday has gotten lots of attention, due to Jones's seemingly-unprovoked fiery outbursts and threatening manner. Morgan probably accomplished what he wanted to accomplish by having Jones on the show. He exposed the raving right wing conspiracy theories behind at least some Americans' attachment to guns, and probably scared a lot of people already sympathetic to gun control.

At the same time, however, Morgan probably didn't convince a lot of people who might be sympathetic to Jones's views, and he didn't even begin to engage in a constructive dialogue about responses to the problem of gun violence that we might get most people to agree on. Was that Morgan's fault? He seemed so calm and reasonable, while Jones came off as hostile and belligerent. What if anything, did Morgan do to set up that dynamic, and what could he have done differently, if he were genuinely interested in having a reasonable dialogue about gun control? The first thing was Morgan's choice of guest, obviously. There are lots of gun advocates Morgan could have asked on his show. Why did he choose this guy?

Then, even before the interview, Morgan starts off by stating his "position" on the issue. As noted in my previous post on this topic, we won't get too far in any dialogue about gun control by arguing over positions. The only way to find common ground on this topic is to talk about our common interests in protecting the safety of children and other innocent people.

Morgan never really engages with Jones on any of the points Jones is trying to make. Instead, Morgan, acting like a sly cross-examining attorney, demands that Jones answer a series of factual questions, such as whether the gun homicide rate is lower in Great Britain than it is in the United States. Jones had already conceded that point, however, and became outraged at Morgan's attempts to limit the discussion to what he called little statistical "factoids" like that. Morgan never asked the right questions, which would start by getting his guest to agree that all of us are interested in reducing horrific incidents of gun violence, and then proceed to analyze various ways of accomplishing that result.

In addition to asking the wrong questions, Morgan did something else to inflame the situation. He asked Jones several times to calm down. This is a clever ploy, because it seems so reasonable, but was probably the worst thing he could have done if he really wanted to have a civil discussion. Morgan probably knows that very well, as he is an experienced interviewer. If you are genuinely trying to get a hysterical person to calm down, the last thing you do is ask them to calm down, because that is only challenging the basis for the person's anger. Instead, you need to recognize and respond to the person's anger.  You need to say something like, "you're really angry about this issue. I can see you feel very passionately about it." Had Morgan done that, Jones would have most likely responded by saying, "hell yes, I'm angry. I'm passionate." And that would have been the first step to getting him to talk in a more reasonable manner. But Piers Morgan had no interest in getting his subject to talk in a more reasonable manner. He did whatever he could to inflame him and expose him, saving the coup de grace of asking about 9/11 conspiracies for the end, just so he could portray anyone opposed to gun control as a nut.  That's probably just what Morgan wanted to accomplish. But what he failed to accomplish was to actually engage in a reasonable discussion about the issue of gun control And that was mostly Morgan's own fault.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annecros, FloridaSNMOM, BachFan, slothlax
  •  Of course you're not going to convince... (9+ / 0-)

    The Zealots that they're idiots.   (No matter how hard you try, or how many psychotic fans you show, it's their team and they will support the team!)

    Because that's what we're up against right now.  It's not a matter of convincing the other side.  They have planted their flag on the hill of the 2nd amendment and will NOT move.

    Trying to engage Jones is like trying to engage a Holocaust denier.  He will completely be argumentative, angry and downright threatening if you point out the fact that he's a damned liar and refuse to play the "Reasonable Disagreement" game.

    Zealotry cannot be reasoned with.  Time to just ignore them and get to work solving the problem.  Which I hope to judge by Biden's statements, is exactly what we are doing.

    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 10:38:22 AM PST

    •  You don't want to convince the zealots. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dogs are fuzzy, theboz

      And you're certainly not trying to convince them that they are idiots. The people you are trying to convince are people who believe in their right to own a gun for whatever legitimate lawful reasons, but are also willing to recognize the need for regulations that would limit who could get a gun and would also require registration and training. Maybe Morgan was trying to reach those people in some way, but he certainly wasn't trying to have a reasonable dialogue with people who want to protect their right to own guns. He was trying to prove what you seem to believe, which is that you can't reason with these people.

      •  I lived in Missouri for a while. (5+ / 0-)

        You're gonna have to show me those people.

        Because they certainly aren't showing up to suggest gun control legislation.  They aren't even showing up to suggest that regulations should be put in place.  Instead, what we get is screams about how we need to deal with everything except guns.

        I suppose somewhere there's that person.  But until they are willing to actually put some cards on the table instead of "no gun control, evah!!!!"  I feel pretty justified in my assumption that we can't reason with em.

        It's like negotiating with Republicans.  Of COURSE, they're willing to discuss reasonable cuts.  You go first, so we can say no!

        I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

        by detroitmechworks on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 11:07:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Much wider problem (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SilentBrook, BachFan

        Shouting matches make for good ratings, as do freak shows. This was only one example of why we can't have nice debates.

        That said, there is social value in discrediting Alex Jones. It just doesn't contribute to designing gun laws.

      •  Those who need their minds changed, aren't (0+ / 0-)

        going to change their minds, regardless of anything anyone says, or how it's said.

        To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

        by UntimelyRippd on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 04:56:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I've come to the conclusion that the people (5+ / 0-)

    most in favor of gun rights are generally the people I'm least comfortable with having guns.  It's a strange Catch-22.

    I'm reminded of the people Hunter Thompson was satirizing when he wrote (and please excuse the inclusion of the racial slur):

    Another fine source of weapons info — particularly for the private citizen — is a little known book titled, How to Defend Yourself, Your Family, and Your Home — a Complete Guide to Self-Protection. Now here is a book with real class! It explains, in 307 pages of fine detail, how to set booby traps in your home so that “midnight intruders” will destroy themselves upon entry; it tells which type of shotgun is best for rapid-fire work in narrow hallways (a sawed-off double-barreled 12-gauge; one barrel loaded with a huge tear gas slug, the other with Double-O buckshot). This book is invaluable to anyone who fears that his home might be invaded, at any moment, by rioters, rapers, looters, dope addicts, niggers, Reds or any other group. No detail has been spared: dogs, alarm wiring, screens, bars, poisons, knives, guns. . . ah yes, this is a wonderful book...

    To believe that markets determine value is to believe that milk comes from plastic bottles. Bromley (1985)

    by sneakers563 on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 10:43:51 AM PST

    •  But... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      how many of the people you know like this are the perpetrators of actual violence?  Just because you aren't "comfortable" with them having guns doesn't mean they necessarily shouldn't have guns.  I think its a paranoid viewpoint on our side.

      There is truth on all sides. The question is how much.

      by slothlax on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 07:49:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Really, the attempts to find "common ground" (9+ / 0-)

    are mostly a waste of time. Gun zealots will not change their minds unless (maybe) their kid gets killed by someone's carelessness.

    Just look at the RKBAers here - the most reasonable voice is convinced "it will never happen."

    It will take more time, leadership, and a non-Repbublican majority in all three branches of government, and even then it's iffy, because there are a significant number of Dems that can't be trusted on this issue.

    **Your beliefs don't make you a better person, your behavior does** h/t Clytemnestra/Victoria Jackson

    by glorificus on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 10:49:29 AM PST

  •  Derision and mockery always works for me. (4+ / 0-)

    All we have to do is say that we're going to take their guns away and the craziest among them will come out waving their guns around like nuts. Then we say, "Look at them running around like a bunch of friggin' Somalis".

    I think it's the only option that will work. You make it uncool.

    We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.

    by PowWowPollock on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 10:59:26 AM PST

    •  Like smoking -- exactly (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SilentBrook, BachFan, Hey338Too

      The problem is that gun fetishists don't believe they are in danger from their own guns themselves (even though they are). And they don't really care if family members are in danger from them (though they claim they do).

      And they want everybody else to be in danger from them -- that's the point.

  •  Not Every Engagement Must Be a Dialogue. (8+ / 0-)

    Letting the crazies expose their true nature to the public is an essential part of the the process both for gun control and for the entire rightwing attack on civilization.

    There's a place in the mix for what Morgan did.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 11:11:50 AM PST

  •  Alex Jones never speaks in a reasonable (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    billmosby, SilentBrook, BachFan

    manner.  That was a bad assumption on your part.

    David Koch is Longshanks, and Occupy is the real Braveheart.

    by PsychoSavannah on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 11:21:21 AM PST

  •  "Constructive dialogue" is not possible (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SilentBrook, theboz

    while the airways belong to billionaire capitalists who pump out 24/7 propaganda.

    Revoke all radio and TV license in the US, and redistribute them in the public interest. Then, and only then, might "constructive dialogue" become possible again.

    Oh -- and public funding for universities, so that those same billionaires don't use them as propaganda organs too.

  •  The more interesting part of (5+ / 0-)

    the show on the following night was when one of Piers' guests (NY Times columnist I think, can't quite think of his name at the moment) pointed out that "military style semiautomatic weapons" killed around 300 people in 2012, while there were a total of 11,000 or so total gun deaths. He said ban them and their large magazines if you like, but if you really want to tackle the large gun death rate here you'll have to "go after the handguns".

    Nobody else seems to have grasped that; once again we may be heading towards a feel-good solution that actually does nothing to solve the real problem.

    I also know why- the politics of the situation is barely adequate, if that, to allow discussion of this spectacular but small part of the problem. It is simply totally inadequate to tackle that larger part.

    Moderation in most things.

    by billmosby on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 11:33:17 AM PST

    •  many have grasped this..... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BachFan, theboz

      and many know there is a large amount of violence against gang members and viollence against women.  We should work harder to eliminate gang violence, but there have been some benefits from the existing efforts.  There are many who realize this has contributed to crime reductions.  We also need to repass the violence against women act.  That is why it is a commission on violence, not just guns.

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 11:54:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's like losing your virginity (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SilentBrook, Hey338Too

      or voting for a tax increase - do it once and you can never go back.

      Assault weapons ( spare me the semantics, we all know what we are talking about) are the weapon of choice for the spree killer, Sandy Hook,Aurora etc, and if the tide turns towards reducing their availability, then the NRA has popped its cherry.

      The real gains will be made with registration and tracking, and closing the private sale loophole.

      •  Are you talking about (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        theboz, fuzzyguy, FrankRose

        an SKS with its original 10 round magazine? It only differs from an M1 Garand in holding two more rounds and in that its rounds are about half as powerful as the M1 rounds. It's the same design as a lot of other semi-autos that are not associated with the name "assault weapon". It's not even technically an assault weapon, they've never been made with selective fire or removable magazine, pistol grip, etc. You can get crappy 30 round mags for them on the aftermarket if you want to render them unusable, though. lol.

        It doesn't have the jamming potential, and would probably be more than an adequate substitute for, something with a pistol grip and a large magazine because it can be loaded with stripper clips.

        Rate of fire per appropriate unit of time would be a better criteria for banning things, not some arbitrary name or general description like "military style".

        Moderation in most things.

        by billmosby on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 12:54:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I see you couldn't spare the semantics. (0+ / 0-)

          I am no expert, but I am sure that there are many out there, but I guess what we are talking about are M16/Ak47 knock offs copies, firing 223 or 7.6 mm military rounds, with the capacity to hold magazines of 30 or more rounds.

          Oh yeah, I forgot  they tend to be black, and have folding/adjustable stocks, flash supressors, etc.

          You know perfectly well what we are talking about, and think it is somehow clever to try and muddy the water by getting pissy on definitions. Why don't we let a few experts get together and issue a precise definition, and where it is unclear, lets err on the safe side and ban the fuckers anyway.

          •  So you wouldn't ban my SKS, (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            fuzzyguy, FrankRose

            even though it is just as capable of causing the same mayhem as those others you mention.

            Pissy is not the word for what I am about, I'm about precision.

            I wouldn't mind giving up even the SKS along with my AK, if they fit into a plan that really solves the problem.

            You represent the know-nothing, "you know what I mean" faction.

            At least you say you are no expert. We've had a whole bunch of nonexperts trying to solve the problem for a long time now. It's time we cut out the crap and really do something about the problem.

            By the way, I mentioned elsewhere here that rapid fire rifles are only a tiny albeit spectacularly newsworthy part of the problem. The real problem is those other 11000 or so gun deaths that won't be diminished by a real "assault weapon" ban, let alone the cosmetic kind that's likely to be passed by nonexperts.

            Moderation in most things.

            by billmosby on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 02:37:08 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  So Mr Expert -why not tell us what we should ban (0+ / 0-)

              instead of being a pedantic ass.

              You do understand I hope that what most people are talking about would be fairly easy to define by someone with a certain level of knowledge and a will to contribute positively rather than making snide comments from the corner.

              So far you have just behaved in a stereotypical manner for a gun fetishist, with your overbearing, supercilious, unhelpful "so maybe my SKS (already banned in California) would still  be allowed"

              If you are not prepared to contribute in a positive fashion, then be prepared to have the new regulations made by people who do not know what they are talking about. And when they are seen to be inadequate, then they will add more, and more and more. Heh, maybe you will end up like the UK.

              •  I already did that. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                fuzzyguy, slothlax

                Rounds firable in some reasonable time interval. Maybe 5 rounds rapidly and then some longer time interval to reload like 5 or 10 sec, like a revolver with a ban on speedloaders. Or a rifle with a 5 rd nondetachable mag. Good for self defense, sort of, but not for mass shootings. I'm a gun hobbyist which is different from a fetishist. I'm one of the calmer gun commenters here, so you can stuff your inflammatory hater rhetoric and if you want to make a positive contribution to a discussion on the subject talk to somebody who knows about it. I'll gladly, as I already said above, give up whatever guns I need to to participate in a national effort to end gun violence. But just doing it on my own would be an empty gesture.

                Moderation in most things.

                by billmosby on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 04:14:01 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  You also have to define "the fuckers" (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            fuzzyguy, FrankRose

            in order to make a law that defines them. lol.

            Moderation in most things.

            by billmosby on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 02:38:56 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Jones was his guest b/c he is leading a petition (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    to get Morgan deported from the country for having the audacity to suggest that we maybe start someday thinking about the possibility of perhaps inquiring into whether at some point in the future the US begin to investigate the potential for gun control.   So he wasn't there JUST to talk about gun control, but b/c Jones had already shown an unhinged willingness to engage in dumb-ass conspiracy freak-show thought.  Morgan brought this up at the beginning of the segment.

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