Even if you are on the left, I would hope you don’t buy into the utter ridiculousness of the words coming out of Lawrence O’Donnell’s mouth. The Weekly Standard has a link to Lawrence O’Donnell claiming the NRA has impeded the investigation of the Boston bombings because it opposes taggants in gun powder (chemicals that act as tracing agents).
It isn’t enough for O’Donnell to disagree with the NRA over gun control, O’Donnell wants to smear the organization regardless of the facts. On his segment, he comes right out and says “”[t]he NRA is also in the business of helping bombers get away with their crimes.” That isn’t even stretching an argument. It is just wrong, and a lie.
“There are new developments tonight in the bombing investigation here in Boston,” said O’Donnell. “But that investigation could be moving faster were it not for the successful lobbying efforts of the National Rifle Association. The NRA’s efforts to guarantee that American mass murderers are the best-equipped mass murders in the world is not limited to murderers who use assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. The NRA is also in the business of helping bombers get away with their crimes. Gunpowder could be traced by investigators to a buyer at the point of sale if gunpowder contained a taggant, an element that would enable tracing of the purchase of gunpowder. But thanks to the National Rifle Association, identification taggants are required by law only in plastic explosives. The NRA has successfully blocked any requirements for such taggants in gunpowder. So such supremely helpful evidence as taggants are not available to the FBI in this investigation.”
From a factual perspective, unless O’Donnell is privy to information which I am not regarding the bomb’s composition, he cannot be (knowingly) correct. As far as I can tell, the reports about the bomb only say that pressure cookers were filled with explosives. There is no mention of gunpowder being the explosive agent. Moreover, it is HIGHLY unlikely that gun powder would be used to make a bomb because it is a very weak explosive agent compared to virtually any other explosive. I will bet that zero gunpowder was used in the bomb. If that is the case, then it will be easy to see O’Donnell speaks from a position of ignorance.
Perhaps more importantly, however, is O’Donnell’s ridiculous assertion that arguing a policy position automatically makes the advocate responsible for the actions of all those who benefit from that position. Under this theory, if O’Donnell supports the First Amendment he is actively helping the KKK, if he supports the Fourth Amendment he is actively preventing police from gathering useful evidence and if he supports the Sixth Amendment he is actively helping criminals get off by providing them with attorneys. I could go on. It is such an absurd view that if it were presented in a high school class it would deserve an “F” for logic and analysis.
Opinion and commentary in the news have their place. They can help provide context for a story and they can illuminate the recipient, exposing him to ideas and a point of view which leads to thoughtful reflection. However, making ridiculous statements that are inaccurate in order to bolster a prejudiced view of the world add nothing to the conversation. Making illogical arguments that are intellectually vacuous achieves the same result. Here, O’Donnell has probably done the former and has certainly engaged in the latter. His viewers are worse off for it.