When a mass shooting occurs, conservative media rush to blame mental health, video games, a lack of armed people present, and even liberal values -- anything but the fact that the shooter was able to get a gun.
But the single proximate factor in all mass shootings, and in all gun violence really, is that it is easy for dangerous people to access high-powered firearms. Lack of access to firearms typically makes it difficult for would-be mass murderers to carry out their plans. For instance, experts say mass stabbings are extremely rare in the United States. To the contrary, 69 percent of all homicides are committed with a gun. Of 37 public mass killings since 2006, 33 involved firearms, while the Boston Marathon bombings, an incident involving a car, and two cases of arson accounted for the other four incidents.
Furthermore, academic research has linked the easy availability of firearms to homicide. According to numerous studies, "where there are more guns, both men and women are at higher risk for homicide, particularly firearm homicide." Compared to other high income nations which typically more strongly regulate the availability of firearms, the United States' gun homicide rate is 19.5 times higher, leading to an overall homicide rate that is 6.9 times higher. Research has also shown, "across developed countries, where guns are more available, there are more homicides. These results often hold even when the United States is excluded."
Following the April 2 shooting at Fort Hood that left three victims dead and 16 others wounded, conservative media have refused to acknowledge the role of easy access to firearms in shootings and have instead claimed mass shootings are caused by video games, mental health problems, the "culture war," and by a deficiency in the number of firearms carried by the general public.
Referring to gay people as "homosexual" is a practice that's quickly falling out of favor with major news outlets due the term's often pejorative connotation and frequent use by opponents of LGBT equality. But Fox News has yet to update its language when referring to gay and lesbian people.
On March 23, The New York Times published a piece exploring the often derogatory connotation of the term "homosexual." Writing for the Sunday Styles section, the Times' Jeremy Peters noted that experts increasingly view "homosexual" as an offensive and stigmatizing term, even if many people still see the term as relatively "innocuous" (emphasis added):
To most ears, it probably sounds inoffensive. A little outdated and clinical, perhaps, but innocuous enough: homosexual.
But that five-syllable word has never been more loaded, more deliberately used and, to the ears of many gays and lesbians, more pejorative.
" 'Homosexual' has the ring of 'colored' now, in the way your grandmother might have used that term, except that it hasn't been recuperated in the same way," said George Chauncey, a Yale professor of history and an author who studies gay and lesbian culture.
Consider the following phrases: homosexual community, homosexual activist, homosexual marriage. Substitute the word "gay" in any of those cases, and the terms suddenly become far less loaded, so that the ring of disapproval and judgment evaporates.
Some gay rights advocates have declared the term off limits. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or Glaad, has put "homosexual" on its list of offensive terms and in 2006 persuaded The Associated Press, whose stylebook is the widely used by many news organizations, to restrict use of the word.
George P. Lakoff, a professor of cognitive science and linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, has looked at the way the term is used by those who try to portray gays and lesbians as deviant. What is most telling about substituting it for gay or lesbian are the images that homosexual tends to activate in the brain, he said.
"Gay doesn't use the word sex," he said. "Lesbian doesn't use the word sex. Homosexual does."
Peters highlighted use of the term by anti-gay figures like Rush Limbaugh, whose comments on the "homosexual" NFL prospect Michael Sam and the efforts of the "homosexual lobby" to defeat Arizona's anti-gay discrimination bill smack of contempt.
Use of the term is also pervasive at Fox News - and not just from the likes of the network's hate group mouthpiece Todd Starnes, who recently warned that "Christians are trading places with homosexuals" in the military. Just as the network insists on misgendering transgender subjects, Fox also has no qualms about regularly referring to gay men and lesbians by a term many of them shun.
Fox employees from Megyn Kelly to Sarah Palin continue to use the word "homosexual" to describe gays and lesbians. Fox Supreme Court reporter and pro-discrimination champion Shannon Bream teased a forthcoming segment on "homosexual adoption":
Fox's "Medical A-Team" member and anti-LGBT pop psychologist Keith Ablow uses the term "homosexual sex" while criticizing pro-gay advertisements.
And Fox's Bill O'Reilly was recently mocked for a segment in which he attacked the Girl Scouts for "leaning left," seizing in particular on the organization's employment of a spokesman who participated "in a punk rock band with homosexual overtones":
Fox News "Medical A-Team" member Dr. Keith Ablow attributed Russian president Valdimir Putin's decision to invade Crimea in part "to the psychology of Barack Obama."
In a March 11 FoxNews.com column, Ablow claimed that Putin's motivations should not be dismissed as those of a "simple thug," but rather that "Putin's psychology is being directly fueled by that of President Barack Obama." Ablow criticized Obama as unwilling to assert both personal and nationalistic power, arguing that "Barack Obama apparently believes he was placed on this earth to be the most powerful person he can be, in order to restrain America in the expression of its power."
Ablow went on to imply that Obama's domestic policy was the catalyst for Putin's decision to invade Ukraine:
How then could Vladimir Putin fail to notice the remarkable presence on the world stage of an American counterpart (Barack Obama) who is as interested as he is in disempowering the United States? How could he fail to act on the remarkable symmetry of such a moment in history? To not test the possibility that God intends him to be the instrument of a new world order, based on Russia's manifest destiny, would be contrary to every fiber in his being.
To go further, I do not believe that Vladimir Putin would miss the fact that Barack Obama has imperiled the notion of individual autonomy (by seeking to disarm Americans, by seeking to make Americans dependent on unemployment checks and food stamps and by making it officially impossible to choose how to spend your own money, via the Affordable Care Act). Since giving each individual the right to power is not the goal of this American President, why would Putin believe that taking power from others would be opposed vigorously by this President's Administration?
Ablow concluded that "If Crimea becomes part of Russia or all of Ukraine does," Putin and Obama's psychology will share the blame equally.
Fox News "Medical A-Team" member Dr. Keith Ablow baselessly speculated about the mental health of the Columbia Mall shooter, ignoring proof that access to firearms, not mental health conditions, is the most significant factor in most gun violence.
On January 25, Darion Marcus Aguilar shot and killed two people before committing suicide at a mall in Columbia, Maryland. Two days later, Dr. Keith Ablow appeared Fox's America's News HQ to discuss the shooter's possible motive. Ablow dismissed the ready availability of guns, instead surmising that the shooter showed signs of "serious mental health care problems":
ABLOW: The anti-gun people are going to say, 'oh, it's the gun, it's the gun, it's the gun.' It isn't the gun. We have a crisis in terms of mental health care where I promise you that there were signs that this individual too was experiencing serious mental health care problems.
Days after Fox News "Medical A Team" member Dr. Keith Ablow penned a column saying he wasn't "convinced" that transgender identities are real, hate group spokesman Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association (AFA) used the column on his radio program to justify his own transphobic views.
On January 14, Ablow published an ill-informed, transphobic rant against California's new law allowing transgender students to use facilities and participate in programs that match their gender identities. Disregarding the positions of the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association, Ablow wrote that he simply doesn't "believe" that it's possible for someone to identify with a gender different from his or her sex at birth.
Two days later, Fischer voiced the same view on his show, reading from Ablow's column and extolling his credentials as a supposed expert on the issue.
From the January 16 edition of American Family Radio's Focal Point:
FISCHER: We're gonna bring this in, because this is a piece written by Dr. Keith Ablow. He's a psychiatrist. You see him on Fox News all the time, he's part of the Fox News "Medical A Team," and he writes about this bathroom bill. Now this guy is a psychiatrist - that means he's a medical doctor. He's an M.D. And he writes about his analysis of this bill. ... And Keith Ablow has a good piece about how destructive this is.
This isn't the first time that AFA - a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated anti-gay hate group -- has taken its bigoted talking points from Fox. In 2011, Fischer cited Ablow's condemnation of Chaz Bono's appearance on ABC's Dancing with the Stars while arguing that transgender people should be criticized rather than celebrated on television.
Fox News "Medical A Team" member Dr. Keith Ablow continued his pattern of baseless smears against LGBT people with an ill-informed, transphobic rant against a new California law that allows transgender students to use facilities that match their gender identities.
In a January 14 column for FoxNews.com, Ablow criticized a recently-enacted California law that allows transgender public school students to use bathroom facilities that correspond with their gender identity. Ablow predicted that nothing but "toxicity" would come from the measure, parroting the "bathroom panic" that's been central to Fox's coverage of the legislation:
I don't see anything but toxicity from the notion of a person with female anatomy feeling free to use the urinal in the boys' rest room while a boy stands next to her and uses one, too.
Governor Brown is one of the liberal politicians in the world who wants to sell people on the idea that he loves freedom when he is actually addicted to disempowering people.
And shaking the certain knowledge in boys and girls of whether they can count on not being seen naked by the opposite gender, not to mention whether they are themselves actually the gender they thought they were, is a powerful, devious and pathological way to weaken them by making them question their sense of safety, security and certainty about anything and everything.
Ablow's worst fears are baseless. School districts that have implemented similar policies have reported "nothing but positive results" and no instances of misconduct, which is why anti-LGBT groups have been forced to make up incidents of their own.
Ablow went on to falsely suggest that there's no proof that transgender people even exist, even while admitting that "many psychiatrists with very impressive credentials" disagree with him:
I don't believe we have definitive data (although many psychiatrists with very impressive credentials, who seem to mean well, assert that we do) that any male or female soul has ever in the history of the world been born into the wrong anatomic gender.
Let me put that more clearly: I am not convinced by any science I can find that people with definitively male DNA and definitively male anatomy can actually be locked in a cruel joke of nature because they are actually female.
Those well-meaning psychiatrists include the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association, which both recognize transgender people as real and deserving of respect and acknowledgment. Instead of taking the advice of America's largest professional psychological and psychiatric organizations, Ablow - who has no expertise in gender or sexuality issues - merely asserted that he is "not convinced" of the existence of transgender people.
Of course, Ablow has a history of commenting on issues that he's completely unqualified to discuss. A repeated misinformer on LGBT people, Ablow is one of the most prominent faces of Fox's transphobia problem. He's one of the network's most vocal defenders of junk "ex-gay" therapy programs and lashes out against the American Psychological Association for being politically motivated whenever its stances don't comport with his bigoted views. Most recently, Ablow garnered attention for declaring that "marriage died in 2013" because of gay people and polygamists. To any reality-based observer, Ablow's hyperbole and pseudoscience discredit him as a commentator on LGBT issues, but Fox News doesn't seem to mind.
Fox News' resident anti-LGBT pop psychologist Keith Ablow boldly declared that "marriage died in 2013," badly misreading a recent court decision in Utah to blame same-sex marriage supporters for turning marriage into "the Wild West."
In a December 31 column for FoxNews.com, Ablow congratulated himself for predicting that the legalization of same-sex marriage would result in the legalization of polygamous marriages, citing a recent decision by U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups striking down part of Utah's anti-polygamy statute. Marriage, Ablow argued, has become "the Wild West," with incestuous marriages being the next frontier in the fight for marriage equality:
More than a year ago, when states began to legalize gay marriage, I argued that polygamy would be the natural result. If love between humans of legal age is the only condition required to have the state issue a marriage license, then it is irrational to assert that two men or two women can have such feelings for one another, while three women and a man, or two men and a woman, cannot.
Well, now U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups has found parts of Utah's anti-bigamy law unconstitutional. His ruling comes in a case brought by Kody Brown and his four wives, who are featured in the reality TV show, "Sister Wives."
I believe the U.S. Supreme Court will uphold that finding, if Utah challenges it.
As I predicted, this will officially make marriage the Wild West, in which groups of people can assert that they are married and should have all the benefits of that status, including family health plans and the right to file taxes as married people.
It will also, eventually, lead to test cases in which a few unusual sisters and brothers insist that they can marry, because they are in love and promise not to procreate, but, instead, to use donor eggs or sperm.
Marriage is over.
It was always at least a little funny that a huge percentage of people swore to stay together until death, then divorced and remarried.
But, now, it is, officially, judicially, a joke.
If two men can marry, and three men can marry, and five women and a man can marry, and three men and two women can marry, then marriage has no meaning.
From the October 16 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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From the October 11 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
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Dr. Keith Ablow -- the discredited psychiatrist who is a leading member of Fox News' "Medical A-Team" -- cited President Obama's childhood to claim that his "victim mentality" accounts for his tough stance against Republicans over the government shutdown and will lead to "dissolving the will of countless Americans" to provide for themselves.
In an October 10 FoxNews.com column, Ablow claimed that Obama's actions as president can be understood if seen through the prism of his "victim mentality." He criticized Obama's rhetoric calling the GOP's actions forcing a government shutdown as taking "hostages," claiming that this shows Obama believes "America victimized him and countless millions of others" and considers anyone who opposes him as "not just his adversary, but abusive, predatory and even threatening.":
It is exceedingly difficult to come to terms with a person who sees you as his oppressor, his kidnapper, and someone terrorizing him who might well destroy him. You aren't likely to consider whether your assailant and jailer and would-be killer has a few good ideas, after all.
A victim mentality would explain why the president immediately allies with anyone else he thinks might be a victim, too. Seeing Barack Obama as someone who has a victim mentality would explain a lot. That mentality relies on believing one has been harmed, that one was not responsible for the injuries that occurred, that one could not have prevented what happened and that the person's suffering makes that person morally right and deserving of sympathy.
Ablow then described all the ways Obama has purportedly not gotten over being victimized as a child, asserting that "the president's victim mentality could have already gone global":
As a young boy, Obama was, indeed, helpless.
He was helpless to stop his father from abandoning him.
He was helpless to stop his mother from leaving him with his grandparents.
He was helpless to stop his white grandmother and caretaker from communicating to him her fears of black people.
I'm not sure the president ever got over it.
The president's victim mentality could contribute to dissolving the will of countless Americans who might otherwise see themselves as capable of summoning internal resolve and creativity to surge out of poverty.
From the September 27 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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Fox News psychiatrist Keith Ablow used the anniversary of the September 11 attacks to smear President Obama with the accusation that "he hates us," but was elected because Americans suffered from Stockholm Syndrome.
In a discussion on Fox Business' Varney & Co. about the anniversary of the September 11 terror attack, host Stuart Varney asked Ablow whether America's psyche had changed in the twelve years after the attack. Ablow responded that America suffers from a "captive mentality" like Stockholm Syndrome. As evidence, Ablow pointed to the election of Obama, who he claimed "doesn't even like us, he hates us," concluding that "when things get bad enough," America "will elect a patriot" (emphasis added):
ABLOW: Yes, but I hope not irrevocably so. Because I think what it set in motion is a kind of captive mentality. The same kind of thing that happens when a plane is hijacked and people aboard say "You know what? I am starting to think like the people who took this plane over." Why? Because they want to be safe and they want to endear themselves to their adversaries. And I think that the whole Obama apology tour, the election of Barack Obama was a manifestation of us wanting to say, "Look, we are not that bad, don't hurt us. Here is this guy, how bad can we be? He doesn't even like us, he hates us and we are electing him president."
CHARLES PAYNE (Fox Business contributor): When do we come out of this Stockholm Syndrome that you are talking about, when do we escape it?
ABLOW: It's good to be with another psychiatrist. Stockholm Syndrome -- We escape it when things get bad enough from that failed psychological attempt. Right? what is it? It's a form of denial. Bad enough that, just like an alcoholic falling on the pavement, you say, "You know what, oh my God, this didn't work. Trying to dodge and weave around who we are and pretend we're other than that by electing someone friendly to adversaries is not working, hence we will elect a patriot, someone very high on the Constitution and someone who isn't afraid to use power when it's indicated." And then we'll set things right.
Fox & Friends host Gretchen Carlson and Fox News contributor Keith Ablow distorted research findings to warn of a "terrifying link" between video games and mass shootings while dismissing the role of high powered firearms in those incidents.
During the September 10 edition of Fox & Friends, Carlson claimed, "brand new research suggests there is a terrifying link between video games and violent behavior," before showing images of recent mass shooters who purportedly "were big gamers." Ablow -- claiming that all of the shooters were "addicted to violent video games" -- said that a recent study that found "watching violent video games increases aggression and decreases empathy" to support his claim that video games are linked to mass shootings.
Carlson concluded the segment by saying, "This whole is issue is so much more complicated than just gun control, there are so many other factors, mental illness [and] video games are just two of them":
In fact, the author of the research cited by Carlson and Ablow -- which was actually published in 2010 -- has stated that video games cannot be the sole cause of mass shooting incidents, despite being a proponent of the claim that a relationship exists between video games and real world violence. Ohio State University professor Brad Bushman published the survey of other studies that found a link between playing video games and aggressive thoughts cited by Ablow during his Fox & Friends appearance.
However, in explaining his research on video games in a March 20 New York Daily News op-ed, Bushman wrote, "It is crucial to understand there is no single cause of a crime like [Sandy Hook shooter Adam] Lanza's, and no responsible scholar could claim that violent video games cause murder."
Furthermore, other research disputes the link between violent video games and real world violence.
Fox Sports fired football analyst Craig James after one appearance on the network, citing homophobic comments James made as a candidate for the U.S. Senate from Texas. Fox Sports' handling of James' remarks differs markedly from how its corporate sibling, Fox News, deals with anti-LGBT commentary from its employees.
During his unsuccessful bid for the Republican Party's Senate nomination in 2012, James called homosexuality "a choice" and stated that gays "are going to have to answer to the Lord for their actions." A Fox Sports spokesman explained the network's decision to sever its ties with James, telling The Dallas Morning News, "We just asked ourselves how Craig's statements would play in our human resources department. He couldn't say those things here."
James' comments got him fired from Fox Sports, but they would have been wholly unremarkable if he was at Fox News, where rabidly anti-LGBT talking heads are regularly given a platform to spout their bigoted views with impunity.
A self-styled "bitter" culture warrior, one of Starnes' trademark specialties is delivering hateful commentary about LGBT people. Besides offering standard right-wing boilerplate language about how marriage equality will inevitably lead to bestiality, Starnes has also called the gay-inclusive, post-Don't Ask Don't Tell military a sign of "the end of days," mocked transgender women as "big burly men in dresses," and defended anti-LGBT discrimination by businesses. After NBA player Jason Collins came out as gay, Starnes tweeted, "The NBA is turning into GLEE."
Starnes has no use for LGBT allies, either. After President Barack Obama condemned Russia's draconian crackdown on gays, Starnes promoted a conspiracy theory that he has long been obsessed with - that perhaps Obama is secretly gay.
While The O'Reilly Factor host received widespread attention following his concession that the LGBT movement has the stronger marriage equality argument, O'Reilly continues to deliver a steady stream of anti-LGBT remarks. In 2012, he warned that pro-LGBT shows like "Glee" would encourage youthful "experimentation" with homosexuality and transgender identities. He has depicted gay rights supporters as protectors of child molesters, called students "fascist[s]" for protesting an anti-gay cleric, advised parents to shame boys who like the color pink, and denounced a new California law protecting transgender students as "anarchy and madness" and "the biggest con in the world."
Fox News contributor Keith Ablow is serving as a "spokesperson" and infomercial host for a diet company called GOLO. Fox said in 2009 that the network "prohibits any on-air talent from endorsing products or serving as a product spokesperson."
Ablow is "a psychiatrist and member of the Fox News Medical A-Team." Though he purports to offer sound medical advice, Ablow's Fox News appearances often devolve into cheap political smears and "pop-psychology nonsense." Ablow once blamed the rise of birthers on President Barack Obama supposedly "sever[ing] himself from all core emotion." He claimed that Vice President Joe Biden may be suffering from dementia. And Ablow was named Media Matters' 2011 Misinformer of the Year on LGBT Issues for regularly launching anti-LGBT attacks that, in the words of an American Psychiatric Association fellow, "have little basis in current clinical practices." Earlier this year, Ablow decided against running for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts as a Republican.
GOLO describes itself as "a complete lifestyle solution that creates safe, sustainable weight loss and is effective in reversing obesity, diabetes and heart disease risk factors." Its corporate material states that "Ablow has teamed up with GOLO as their spokesperson."
GOLO's marketing campaign features Ablow and his Fox News credentials. The front of the company's website touts Ablow's endorsement and identifies him as a "FOX NEWS psychiatry expert."