- The Washington Times - Monday, June 6, 2005

Credibility shot

“When the federal assault-weapons ban expired last September, its fans claimed that gun crimes and police killings would surge. Sarah Brady, one of the nation’s leading gun-control advocates, warned, ‘Our streets are going to be filled with AK-47s and Uzis.’

“Well, over eight months have gone by, and the only casualty has been gun-controllers’ credibility. Letting the law expire only showed its uselessness. …

“The irrelevance of the assault-weapons bans to crime rates was to be expected. Not a single published academic study has ever shown that these bans have reduced any type of violent crime. …

“Why? Simple: There’s nothing unique about the guns that these laws ban. The phrase ‘assault weapon’ conjures up images of the rapid-fire machine guns used by the military, but the weapons in the ban actually function the same as any semiautomatic hunting rifle. They fire the exact same bullets with the exact same rapidity and produce the exact same damage. …

“Even for lawmakers, predictions must eventually matter. If legislators can’t see that these laws have failed to deliver as promised, it’s hard to know when facts will make a difference.”

—John R. Lott Jr., writing on “The Anti-Gun Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight,” Saturday at www.lewrockwell.com

No class

“At first glance, ‘Class Matters’ — the New York Times’ epic inquiry into the widening economic divisions of the new millennium — appears to be what its editors solemnly claim: a well-intentioned effort to reckon with a serious social condition. … Alas, however, the New York Times is in no position to deliver. … Social class is at the core of the Times’ institutional identity, which prevents the paper from offering the sort of dispassionate, critically searching discussion the subject demands. …

“Even as the paper takes hits for its alleged liberal bias, it retains a supremely undeviating affinity for the cultural habits of the rich and celebrated. …

“Getting the New York Times to explain the real operation of social class in America is … a lot like granting your parents exclusive license to explain sex to you: there are simply far too many conflicts that run far too deep to result in any reliable account of how the thing works.”

—Chris Lehmann, writing on “All classed up and nowhere to go,” in the June 3-9 issue of Boston Phoenix

No secret?

“Over the past few years of intense Deep Throat speculation, there was always some wise guy writing that the legendary source’s identity was no secret. It was Hal Holbrook, of course. So, now that the real Throat has surfaced, how does he measure up to the actor who immortalized him in Alan Pakula’s film ‘All The President’s Men’?

“Not very well, even correcting for Mark Felt’s age. And how could he, when Holbrook’s Throat is tantalizingly unfilled-in? … In Pakula’s film, he is shadowed, furtive, anxious, impatient, condescending. But he’s still something of a Rorschach blot. We can project anything we like onto him and supply our own motives for his disclosures. …

“Deep Throat gets relatively little screen time in ‘All the President’s Men,’ but the movie is unimaginable without him. In a film in which the key villains don’t appear and the actual crimes remain nebulous, it’s the free-floating paranoia that keeps our hearts racing.”

—David Edelstein, writing on “Deeply Felt — or Holbrook?” Friday in Slate at www.slate.com

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