Is this series of tweets the new social bigotry?



Got anybody like this in your neighborhood? An L.A. Times columnist thinks you live in a bad area.

In a Monday column on the National Rifle Association’s website, the group’s Institute for Legislative Action looked back to a series of tweets earlier this month by Los Angeles Times columnist Virginia Heffernan which, if they had focused on any other social group, or perhaps minority group, would have been an outrage.

Heffernan wrote, “Real-estate listings should include prevalence of gun-ownership in a 50-mile radius and number of annual mass shootings in the region.”

In a separate tweet, Heffernan wrote, “No one should say ‘this is a great place to raise kids’ about neighborhoods where even one person has an assault rifle.”

She refers to gun ownership in certain areas of New York.

“Example,” she writes, “Example: Staten Island (pop 474k) has 4x the gun ownership per capita of the Bronx (pop 1.4m).”

She follows that up with a fourth comment: “If that reads as safer or more frer (sic) to some people, Staten Island is for them. If not, maybe time for the Bronx. Take race, class, politics out of the real-estate equation.”

Right, instead of race, class or politics, get right down to social bigotry against tens of millions of law-abiding U.S. citizens whose existence seems to repulse the Harvard-educated columnist.

As noted by the ILA essay, “There are so many flaws in this piece of unhinged idiocy that it’s hard to know where to start.”

Who is Virginia Heffernan?

According to the L.A. Times website, she is “a regular contributor to the Los Angeles Times’ Opinion section. After receiving her doctorate in English and American Studies from Harvard, Heffernan began her journalism career as a fact-checker at the New Yorker. She’s worked as a senior editor at Harper’s, a TV critic for Slate and a columnist for the New York Times Magazine, among other gigs. She is the author of “Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art,” and she hosts the Trumpcast podcast for Slate.”

Reactions to Heffernan’s Twitter messages were hardly polite. One person wrote, “Your ignorance is astounding. Its none of your business nor mine to know who owns a gun and its MY responsibility to never find out what my neighbor is or isn’t carrying. You weirdos will do anything to infringe on someone’s right to privacy.”

Another added, “Anther dumb journo with a political agenda. There is a correlation between crime and legal gun ownership, but it’s the exact opposite. Read ‘More guns, less crime’ by Prof. John Lott.”

Her messages drew hundreds of comments, nearly all of them negative.

In some situations, what Heffernan is suggesting is called “redlining.” It’s a sort of institutional blacklisting, according to ThoughtCo, based on race and/or ethnicity, and it was “formally outlawed in 1968.”

But this sort of social prejudice against gun owners—apparently irrespective of their race or ethnicity—is still okay.


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