Yesterday, a video was circulated that appeared to show a group of gun right supporters at a hearing in Connecticut heckling the parent of one of the Newtown shooting victims. Naturally, every pro-gun control media outlet under the sun picked the story up and ran with it. And why not? For the anti-2A crowd, that kind of behavior is manna from heaven, an easy cudgel to use to make gun owners look like cruel bullies. Just one problem: there was no heckling. The video was intentionally edited to paint the People of the Gun in the most negative light possible . . .
And — surprise! — there haven’t been any retractions that I can find.
David Frum tweeted, “What horrible human being heckles a grieving parent in such a way?”
Gawker picked up the story and ran with it, no retraction or update was issued.
CT Post was all over it. No retraction was issued.
And naturally Piers Morgan was as sensationalist as one can be: “SICKENING: Sandy Hook father Neil Heslin heckled as he pleads for ban on assault weapon that killed his son Jesse”
The HuffPo ran the headline”Neil Heslin, Father Of Newtown Victim, Heckled By Pro-Gun Activists.” There was no update to the story.
MSNBC cried, “Emotional father of Sandy Hook victim heckled by gun nuts”.
But Twitchy, has the real story:
Except no. Not really. MSNBC is propping up its story with a blatantly edited video. In fact, Heslin was not heckled. Gun rights advocates in the audience indeed voiced their support for the Second Amendment — after he asked why anyone would need “assault-style weapons or high-capacity clips.” You’d never know based on the MSNBC version, which completely cut out the footage of Heslin’s question.
Twitchy went the extra mile to actually investigate the story instead of simply repeating the party line and found the original footage:
So it turns out that the father of the murdered child wasn’t really heckled. He just asked a question and engaged in dialogue with the audience. And he wasn’t upset at all when the session was over. Even the Washington Post agrees:
Man invites comment from audience; audience replies with comment; man comes away unperturbed. Does that qualify as a moment of heckling? Have a look at the definition of the term: “Interrupt (a public speaker) with derisive or aggressive comments or abuse.”
Since Heslin invited feedback, the audience response cannot qualify as an interruption. On that front alone, there is simply no heckling here. And there’s further evidence: After the back and forth, Heslin didn’t appear one bit bothered by the interaction. He said, “Anyway, we’re all entitled to our own opinion, and I respect their opinions and thoughts, but I wish they’d respect mine and give it a little bit of thought.”
He wasn’t heckled. But that doesn’t fit the narrative that gun owners are nuts and bullies. So this is what we’re up against. No tactic, no matter how dishonest, disingenuous or despicable, is too over-the-top when it comes to the larger goal of demonizing gun owners and de-legitimizing civilian firearms ownership. Got that?