Why optics are so important in the Gun Control issue.

Optics is the new/old use of the word representing the image that right or wrong will brand an event. It is usually accompanied by a  sentence of two setting the context and, if it is done right, you can win or lose big time.

Some times, you don’t even need that little context line because the image on itself may bring memories deeply set in the collective consciousness. For example, take this picture from the protest of the killing of Mike Brown in Ferguson MO:

ferguson pd dog

Or this one:

ferguson pd dog 2

 

My mind immediately leaped to this iconic picture from the Civil Rights era:

Birmingham Police dogs 1

and this one:

Birmingham_1963d_CharlesMoore

 

Now, with a calm head I admit that both events are as unrelated as they can be knowing that we don’t know for sure the whole story behind the death of Mike Brown,

But still, the initial reaction was there and it was one of disgust to which I had to tamper with rational thought.  There is no doubt in my mind that the police in Ferguson had no idea the kind of imagery they are putting out there. In a world where everybody has a camera phone and can put a picture in the net to be seen by millions in a few seconds, the proper use, behavior and deployment of your people is as important as the duty to maintain peace. For example, the following picture with a sniper a top of an armored vehicle: It might be tactically sound but, was it necessary and what kind of message will it give to the population at large?

Ferguson PD Sniper
Whitney Curtis/The New York Times

And then, to add insult to injury, instead of toning down the images coming out by changing behavior, Ferguson PD does the bonehead thing and arrests one journalist from the HuffPo and one from the Washington Post ensuring that the bad image the department already developed will get be set in stone.

So, to the “It is my right and fuck you that is why!” crowd, allow me to remind you that it is smart tactics (including the proper optics) that will win the fight, not being a brazen asshole about your Second Amendment rights.  Ours is the long game, it has never been the short one and cut to commercials.  Don’t give the opposition any kind of audio-visual aid that may come back to hurt us all.

 

3 Replies to “Why optics are so important in the Gun Control issue.”

  1. And remember that while we’re absolutely certain our cause is right, the other side is equally certain that we’re all utterly implacable monsters, and they’re also, by nature, much better at “optics” than we are. Be very cautious when you engage in activism. Take a moment to think about what message it’s going to send to observers. If you’re sending the wrong message by exercising your rights, that’s actually in many ways MORE harmful to our cause than actively joining the enemy.

    Just look at Bloomberg. All of his vast resources, but because of poor optics, his support is actually TOXIC!




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