The aggressive tactics of law enforcement, an ongoing controversy in communities of color, have recently come into the national media spotlight—if briefly—as the constitutionally dubious practice of arbitrarily stopping and frisking (mostly black and Latino) citizens by police officers was put on trial in federal court in March (NPR, 3/21/13). But you would be hard pressed to know much about the issues if you get your news from national mainstream television.
When it comes to conversations about citizens’ rights, the lion’s share of coverage has gone to perceived infringements on constitutional rights that are of concern mostly to white Americans—like gun ownership.
When the Sandy Hook massacre put gun control back into the national conversation, the debate over personal gun ownership rights undoubtedly resonated predominantly with their disproportionately white (and conservative) supporters (Pew Research Center, 1/13). The passions that arise over gun control were on display when conspiratorial Internet radio host Alex Jones (Extra!, 2/11) argued on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight (1/7/13) that gun control represents a “police state.”