Sunshine Week is a cute little time once a year when newspapers all over the country do little newspaper-type things to celebrate the fact that, in the US, people are allowed to look at many types of government records.
It's also a time when papers publish all types of indignant editorials and pointless lists of records to make themselves appear even more poignant and righteous than usual.
The Roanoke Times, a typical local paper serving the swamplands of Virginia, decided to celebrate Sunshine Week with the typical publication of random public databases, including one that listed the name and address of everyone in the state with a concealed handgun permit.
Well! Concealed handgun carriers certainly were not going to just stand around and let a paper make public records public! According to the Times, "Irate readers swamped the paper with hundreds of calls and e-mails," and an editorial writer "became the recipient of threats and a suspicious package that drew a state police bomb squad."
Good job by the concealed handgun community to dispel its public image as a bunch of unstable, dangerous hotheads. But the paper itself, committed to upholding the tradition of press freedom and independence, immediately pulled the database from its Web site, issuing a fatuous statement about possibly identifying crime victims by accident. That turned out not to be the case, but the database never went back up.
So, Sunshine Week was smashingly successful at confirming the worst stereotypes about everyone. The press is weak. Shooters are crazy. God bless America.
PR Play Rating:
3. On the right track