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  • Journalistic ‘Hot Takes’ Are Not What Are Needed When Tragedy Slams a Nation

    Surge Summary: Peter Heck reminds us why hasty and emotional reactions to tragedy are ill-advised and offers a couple examples of some reactions to recent mass-killings that are the opposite of that.

    Dictionary.com defines a “hot take” as: “a superficially researched and hastily written journalistic piece, online post, etc., that presents opinions as facts and is often moralistic”.

    Wikipedia supplies this even less flattering explanation of the term:

    “[A] piece of deliberately provocative commentary that is based almost entirely on shallow moralizing” in response to a news story … “usually written on tight deadlines with little research or reporting, and even less thought”.

    Writer Peter Heck says he has “sworn off hot takes”.

    Which is, perhaps, why his commentaries are routinely among the most balanced, thoughtful around.

    It’s something that I feel very strongly about as a Christian that I need to not participate in the rush to judgment, the eagerness to condemn others, and the promotion of my own agenda by capitalizing on the very real emotions being experienced by others.  The Bible teaches me to be slow to speak and quick to listen, and I have made a concerted effort to discipline myself in that regard.

    Tough to go wrong with that approach.

    Heck continues:

    I worried initially that such a commitment would hurt my effectiveness in the tweet-happy, social media driven world of politics and culture.  But watching the abject fools that so many make of themselves – not only offering snap judgments on complex situations, but also their apparent belief that none of the rest of us could predict their “take” before they even type it – I’m convinced it is the proper course for anyone that tries to operate by even a modicum of integrity.

    On the heels of a weekend of massacres in El Paso, TX and Dayton, OH (and Chicago, IL, for those bothering to notice), Heck’s convictions were put to the test and he stuck with ‘em.

    That’s why I’ve found that the most meaningful, most helpful, most worthwhile responses to the undeniable increase in high-profile acts of mass violence aren’t those offered by presidential candidates and leading media figures.  And they aren’t the ones that are politically inflammatory.  They aren’t the ones that absurdly pretend that all the violence could be solved (or even diminished) by simply passing a law.  They’re the kind that seek root causes and address the real problem unfolding around us.

    He references Daily Wire founder Jeremy Boreing:

    “An erosion of the social fabric, collapse of the family, a cavalier rejection of historic wisdom and morality, social-media-induced isolation and puritanical outrage culture, a self-righteous greed-fueled exploitative media, mocking of God, and revisionist history.”

    Here’s another he found useful, this one from speaker and author Allie Beth Stuckey:

    Emptiness. Fewer than ever go to church, get married, have kids, join communities or attach to anything bigger than themselves. They are thus self-centered, purposeless, depressed, desperate for some kind of significance. All of this makes people vulnerable to radicalization.

    Heck’s reasons for admiring these reflections?

    Both those assessments are sober, not politically-driven, and don’t offer some silly quick fix that obviously doesn’t exist.  These are the kinds of things that we would be addressing and discussing if we really wanted to understand or change what we’re experiencing as a society.

    Instead we’ll talk about trigger locks, waiting periods, or gun confiscation, two tribes will lob rhetorical bombs using broken and embittered families like fodder, and nothing that matters will change.  I find that incredibly sad.

    As, regarding that last reaction admitted by Peter Heck, should we all.

    Image by _Alicja_ from Pixabay 


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