I generally find The Onion to be quite funny.  However once of their most recent video clips is not my favorite:

The “Little Boy Heroically Shoots, Mutilated Burglar” video clip



Little Boy Heroically Shoots, Mutilates Burglar

The video clip shown above is a fake interview, in which a young boy discusses how he shot a home invader.  In this satirical video clip, the home invader is made out to be a non-violent individual who was only breaking in to steal property.  The child is made out to be a sociopath who is looking for any reason to physically injure another person.  The boy notices the burglary, and grabs his dad’s gun.  He then shoots and beats the criminal after he tried to surrender, taking great joy in causing the home invader as much pain as possible.  The child is then said to have laughed as he executed the incapacitated criminal, after shooting off his fingers.  Near the end of the video, the father refers to the child blood-stained shirt, which he wore to school to show off the fact that he killed the criminal, as his “honor shirt.”

My thoughts

Just to be clear, I am fully aware that The Onion is a fake newspaper whose whole purpose is to entertain readers with off-the-wall fictional stories.  I am also confident that the vast majority of The Onion’s readership understands this, and doesn’t believe the stories to be bona fide news reports.  However, that doesn’t mean that The Onion’s readers and viewers aren’t in any way affected by the fake news stories.  Fake news, such as The Onion or The Daily Show is so funny because it blends together truth with fiction.  The drawback is that not all viewers will fully separate the fiction from the truth as they are watching/reading it. When the news story involves impossible events, such confusion is not too likely. But when it involves realistic situations, the risk of such confusion grows.  The viewer may take as truth one point from the story that was purely fictional, due to lack of experience with the subject matter.  Also, as time passes, the viewer may forget the fact that the story they vaguely remember came from a fake news source, causing them to remember as fact events that never happened.  In sum, the power of fake news to form and change viewpoints really shouldn’t be ignored.   With that background out of way, my comments on the video clip are below.

The first thing that irritates me about this fake news video clip is the way that the home invader is made to be non-threatening, whereas real life home invaders constitute a deadly threat.  The criminal immediately surrenders, and the fake news story emphasizes the point that he was only there to steal property, not to harm the occupants in any way.  That is just not how it happens in many real world home invasions.  All too often, such robbers are more than willing to use force against their victims right away.  Sometimes the robber will commit a crime of opportunity such as rape during a home invasion robbery.  Or, the home invader may break in purely to harm the victim, without being interested in taking that victim’s property at all.  It is just not possible to quickly and reliably determine whether a criminal who breaks in is going  to surrender or quickly turn around and kill the home owner.  Indeed, even seemingly fleeing criminals have been known to come back in moments later to resume the attack, having pretended to flee in order to lull the victim into a false sense of security.  The fact is that home invasions are a deadly, scary, and life changing event – not just a situation where the victim may lose some money.

Secondly, The Onion’s story suggests that those who shoot in self defense are doing to out of a blood thirsty desire to harm another human.  This is also not the case.  Instead, citizens who shoot in self defense do so to save themselves and their loved ones from harm at the hands of a criminal.  They are not vigilantes – and individuals those who fail to understand the enormous distinction between self defense and vigilantism are encouraged to read this article.  Rather than looking for an excuse to shoot a criminals, such citizens tend to go out of their way to avoid having to fire.  This man was repeatedly attacked by a knife-wielding drunk, and only fired in self defense after repeatedly dodging the machete blade and firing warning shots.  As another example, this disabled veteran, who had a concealed carry permit, decided to comply with a robber’s demands for his wallet instead of shooting in self defense.  It was only when the robber continued to advance on him while brandishing a metal pipe that the citizen fired in self defense.  Similarly, this pizza delivery driver handed over his money and tried to back away, and only fired in self defense after the violent robber followed him and continued to threaten his life.

Conclusion

My family and friends would all agree that I am sarcastic – almost to a fault – and appreciate the sort of humor which The Onion employs.   But when that fake news has the potential to misinform a great many people about an important societal issue, I don’t really find it to be a laughing matter.  When it turns out that the fake news story in question is just one in a series of anti gun and anti self defense stories, I find it to be even less humorous.

My thanks to Anders for pointing out this fake news story.