Late night comedian Jimmy Kimmel is a genuinely funny guy, and was until recently a funny and a likeable guy — which explains a lot of his success.
But he has recently forayed into politics and more importantly, national policy on some major issues — things that don’t easily lend themselves to humor, proven by even his lack of humor monologuing on those issues. They’re issues that are easy to skim the surface on and get badly wrong.
This, Kimmel has done.
This turn toward Democratic shill — seriously, using direct talking points from Senate Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer — is probably not who Kimmel actually wants to be. But alas, for many informed, conservative policy wonks (such as me) that is exactly what he looks like — a partisan shill like so many silly Hollywood celebs. Undoubtedly, becoming a polarizing figure will not be great for his career if he keeps it up. The NFL has learned this.
Kimmel is clearly not a policy guy. (FYI, this post can apply to Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah and all the rest of the night-time comedians who have decided their jobs are to moralize about social justice rather than make people laugh. They end up doing neither.)
He’s not a facts and figures wonk on either healthcare or on guns. He’s a comedian. That doesn’t mean he can’t have opinions on these things. Every American from truck driver to waitress to Wall Street jockey to professional athlete to late night comedian can have opinions on these things. And in our glorious country, they can spout them freely.
But when you have built a platform reaching millions of Americans of all political stripes by one method — comedy — then suddenly shift to a different method — public policy and politics — you might look a little amateurish. Or shillish. He does both.
So here’s a little friendly education on the most recent policy issue he dove into: “gun violence.” His lecturing gives him applause lines for some of America but for those who have data and facts and reasoning powers, he came off as one long, eye-rolling groan.
The best policy is made by using data, history, common sense and rational, linear thinking to find solutions to problems by first identifying the actual causes of the problems and then actions that aim at the causes. The worst policies come from knee-jerk, emotional-based perceptions that do not reflect reality. Jimmy Kimmel has taken the latter approach, and he has done it in a high-handed, most unlikable manner.
So let’s take his monologue and break down how he errs repeatedly, and badly, and provide him information that Schumer and the surface-thinkers won’t.
1) Kimmel gun ignorance and gun law ignorance
Kimmel makes the mistake of virtually every journalist and Democrat that speaks on this issue: “Orlando, Aurora, Newtown, San Bernardino, [in] every one of these shootings the murderer used automatic or semiautomatic rifles.”
In none of those shootings did the killers use an “automatic rifle.” In all four cases, the rifle used was semiautomatic. And for Jimmy’s knowledge base, automatic weapons have been banned for manufacture or sale through dealers for 30 years. Those owned before 1986 were not confiscated and can be sold, but they rarely are as they are ridiculously expensive — from $14,000 to more than $100,000.
Finally on this point, the The New York Times reports that most of the firearms used in the 16 most recent mass shootings in the United States were purchased legally and with a federal background check.
Gun control advocates are constantly pushing for background checks on gun purchases — although we already have those. And again, in three of the four cases Kimmel cited, the killers passed FBI background checks. In the fourth, the killer stole the weapons from his mother, who had obtained them legally with background checks.
We know the Vegas killer obtained at least some of his weapons from licensed dealers and passed background checks.
2) Opponents are bad, the NRA is evil
True to form for gun control advocates and liberals in general, Kimmel quickly pivoted to impugning the motives of politicians who do not vote the way he wants. It’s the “bought and paid for!” gambit. It’s weak because it dodges the merits of a case, and more often than not is inaccurate.
Case in point.
In his diatribe, Kimmel asserted that House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “won’t do anything about [the attack] because the NRA has their balls in a money clip.” See, the NRA buys weak Republicans who will do whatever it says.
But the NRA isn’t even in the top 50 of political donors in Washington, D.C. A dozen unions are; the Chicago Cubs are; the city of Philadelphia is. The majority of the major donors in the top 50 and vast majority of the money goes to Democrats. The NRA doesn’t even make the list. But they’re the problem because the Left always needs a bogeyman. NRA, Koch Brothers (#38 on the list) Russia, fake news, Breitbart, white supremacists, etc.
The power the NRA has is not buying politicians, it’s having about 4.5 million Americans as members, Americans who are informed and active. That’s not buying Congressmen, that’s democracy.
Further actual evidence that Kimmel doesn’t know what he is talking about is that, in reality, the NRA has supported legislation that Speaker Ryan has been blocking. The NRA-backed bill would unify the hodgepodge patchwork of conceal carry laws among the states by making them valid in any state — as a driver’s license is — if the person carries the documentation on them.
Maybe Ryan has the family jewels in some other money clip, but it kind of puts the lie to Kimmel’s statement.
3) The infamous gun show loophole
Jimmy Kimmel arrives at being just a Democratic talking point, and there’s nothing funny about that.
He said: “Right now, there are loopholes in the law that let people avoid background checks if they buy a gun privately — from another party — if they buy a gun online or at a gun show.”
Actually, that’s the Constitution and it is not a “loophole.” The Second Amendment came right on the heels of the First Amendment on free speech, religion, assembly for a reason. It was just that important. Americans free to sell guns to each other is not a loophole. Imagine if you wanted to buy your son, daughter, father, mother, brother, sister, close friend a gun as a present? Or you inherit guns through death. Kimmel and others think the fact that the recipient of such a gift does not have to undergo a background check is a loophole — if he’s actually thought about it that much, which he probably hasn’t.
Most guns are bought from dealers. The Vegas killer bought at least many of his guns from authorized gun shops after passing background checks. Anti-gun rights advocates coaching Kimmel, Colbert, Trevor, etc. to push these points simply reveals that they are more about political gain than reducing murders. Reducing murders must always go straight to the murderer — as trucks can kill more than guns — but the anti-gun rights crowd never wants to do that.
Then Kimmel became ugly. Following the norms of the Left, he imputed evil motives to all who disagree with him.
He showed a collage of photos depicting Senators who voted against closing the totally fake “loophole” after the Pulse nightclub massacre last year in Orlando. The point was to shame and scare them and their supporters. They are bad people. Again, not facts, not reason. Pure emotions.
Staying clear of contextual argument, he fails to note that the Orlando killer did not use the fictional “loophole” to purchase his weapons and as far as we know, neither did the Vegas shooter. Nor did any of the other killers he referred to earlier.
So what is the point of this diatribe? If it is to discredit him among a chunk of his fan base and turn them into former fans, that may work. I doubt that is what he wants. He is being lauded as courageous — oh brother — by the media and his fellow Hollywood celebs (who are all protected by security guards with guns) and he will feel very good about himself.
But he has done no good. In fact, his efforts are not just divisive and bad on that front, they are probably bad on the issue of gun violence — if we must term it that way. He won’t talk about any root causes of gun violence. In the big, philosophical picture, a contextual understanding involves the presence of evil and the nature of humanity. In the specific causal picture, a root cause understanding involves the decay of the family and traditional moral values.
But the Left pushing more gun control laws that will change nothing actually do not have a problem with the loss of traditional morality. They’ve actively abetted it.
Rod Thomson is an author, TV the app talking head and former journalist, and is Founder of The Revolutionary Act.
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