January 2, 2012

Bending the Truth in Cicilline's Favor

Justin Katz

In an illustration of how its methods can serve the politicians that the editors like — covering their fundamental dishonesty with a focus on minutia — PolitiFact Rhode Island has given David Cicilline a "half true" for this:

"Earlier this week, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives -- with the enthusiastic support of Sarah Palin, Texas Governor Rick Perry, and the Tea Partiers -- once again turned their backs on the 14 million unemployed Americans in our country," the letter says, "and instead chose to focus their efforts on expanding the rights of sex offenders, terrorists, child predators, and abusers to carry concealed weapons across state lines."

Reporter Lynn Arditi admits that the part about "choosing to focus their efforts" on these outcomes is completely false. That means that the specifics — on whether the bill would incidentally expand the rights of suspect citizens — must be graded on a curve to split truth down the middle, because she finds that only in some of those cases is there any evidence that Cicilline might have a point.

But the whole exercise of searching for examples of people to whom Cicilline's labels might apply is ridiculous. Under "domestic abusers," for example, Arditi finds a Pennsylvania case in which a killer had a legal handgun after a restraining order had previously been imposed and then withdrawn. It may seem like splitting hairs, but inasmuch as that is precisely what Cicilline's evidence does, one has to ask: Is it appropriate to say that the man was, in a legal sense, an "abuser" before he was a murderer? Ought every man against whom a woman requests and then withdraws a restraining order be considered a perpetrator of domestic abuse? (It's funny, by the way, how liberals' perspective would change were it a question of allowing voting rights.)

And so it goes. When it comes to abusers, predators, and sex offenders, Cicilline points out states with laws that don't count a particular conviction as sufficiently criminal to deny a concealed carry permit. In New Hampshire, for example, "an adult who lures a child into engaging in sex for pornography" is charged with a misdemeanor, which doesn't affect his or her gun rights. (That's Arditi's paraphrase of the law. I'm not sure what "luring" the child technically entails, although it's sure to be despicable, whatever its limits.) For the purposes of the PolitiFact analysis, in other words, the person would be a child predator by Rhode Island standards, New Hampshire would still grant a concealed carry permit, so a federal law allowing such permits to apply across state lines would expand the rights of a child predator.

But when it comes to the "terrorist" label, Cicilline points to Kentucky, which brands a misdemeanor charge of "terroristic threatening" on somebody who (in Arditi's words) "threaten[s] to seriously injure someone or to cause substantial property damage." Cicilline's logic, in this case, is that Kentucky might arguably call somebody a terrorist, whether or not the same definition would apply in Rhode Island, and still grant him or her a concealed carry permit. In other words, he's tilted his logical table always to roll a point in his favor.

Whatever one thinks of the issue (or politician) in question, this "half true" shows precisely why the entire PolitiFact project ought to be dismissed and abandoned. By presenting heated political rhetoric as subject to methodical analysis, the writers gloss over the very thing that makes it insidious. Most unfair accusations have some kernels of truth underlying them; that's what makes them harmful. It's the dishonesty layered on top that causes the problems and deserves the moral objection, and in PolitiFact's analysis that is a secondary consideration... at least when the editors want it to be.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

I fail to see how a propensity for sex crimes, assuming they're not of a violent nature, should preclude anyone from owning a firearm.

We've really built a boogeyman/scapegoat here that's being used to manipulate us for votes. And this is coming from someone who's family has been repeatedly and permanently damaged by sex crimes in decades' past.

Posted by: mangeek at January 2, 2012 11:17 AM
"First, let’s look at the state "terrorism" laws. Examples provided by Cicilline’s staff include a "terroristic threatening" statute in Kentucky that makes it a third-degree misdemeanor to threaten to seriously injure someone or to cause substantial property damage.

We confirmed that someone convicted of "terroristic threatening" in Kentucky could, indeed, be eligible for a concealed weapon permit after three years."

Does PolitiFact not have any attorneys on staff? "Terroristic threatening" has nothing to do with "terrorism." The legal definition is a threat intended to inspire fear, as opposed to a financial threat or some other kind of threat. Again, I must offer my consulting services at the very reasonable rate of $100/hour.

Posted by: Dan at January 2, 2012 11:45 AM

Cicilline has always disliked guns,period.He lisped that once while being interviewed,and he's the kind of petulant little prick that tries his best to eliminate anything he doesn't like.
He also worships that megalomaniac Bloomberg down in NYC,and we know Bloomie's attitude about guns.
Cicilline defended plenty of gun toting foreign drug dealers with no compunction whatsoever-people who actually DID pose a direct threat on our streets with illegally owned firearms,and made plenty of money doing so.
How do I know this?I arrested a good number of such people and Cicilline and/or his associates were there quicker than a fat man at a donut giveaway.
The occasional malefactor will slip thorugh in the permitting process-the Projo wrote about one such a few years back-imagine-he was a close associate of Cicilline.
However,the interstate reciprocity idea is a good one.
I think the people who write that Politifact might be a little anti-gun themselves.

Posted by: joe bernstein at January 2, 2012 11:54 AM

Dan beat me to the terroristic threatening issue which as he said has nothing to do with terrorism. Many states have the same type of statute. As far as declaring someone an abuser based on a withdrawn restraining order, in any other setting liberals would have a field day because of a lack of due process but because it's involves guns it's OK in their book.

Posted by: Max D at January 2, 2012 12:58 PM

Utmost in the pathos that is the liar Sissyline is that his own sex crimes would get him imprisoned, tortured, summarily shot, hanged, beheaded or stoned in much of the world.
Furthermore, he engaged in these crimes while he was an officer of the Court and they were 20 year felonies in the state yet continually harped on the rather dubious single count felony conviction of his predecessor.
Glass House, thy name is Dayvid.

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at January 2, 2012 3:47 PM

Wow, Tommy Cranston, why don't you tell us how you really feel about homosexuals.

Posted by: TommyRocket at January 2, 2012 4:16 PM

Wow, Tommy Cranston, why don't you tell us how you really feel about homosexuals.

No, please don't. TommyRocket fails to understand what he is asking?

Posted by: Max D at January 2, 2012 7:47 PM

Bigots like Tommy are an embarrassment to the fiscally conservative movement. Our opponents would be robbed of 90% of their ammo if people like him would just go away.

Posted by: Dan at January 2, 2012 8:20 PM

Everything in my post is factually correct and non-inflamatory.

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at January 3, 2012 1:11 PM
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