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"A gun raffle? Sell us a ticket" and "Flat Earthers can take a hike"

    A gun raffle? Sell us a ticket


   Last week some media in Atlanta lacking any better firearm related story in the metro area chose to feature a raffle by our PHS wrestling team booster club which had a Glock handgun as the main prize.
    Needless to say this produced a serious surge in ticket sales, even though the big city media approached this story as a case of look what the gun nuts up in the mountains are doing.
    We didn’t do a story on it, mainly because we don’t see any big deal or problem with it– it’s not like they were giving away a free trip to a strip club or a bag of weed.
     A Glock handgun is a completely legal and very desirable prize to many people here and the ticket itself states that the winner must meet age and other requirements.
    Any fears that the school was going to turn over a loaded handgun to a student on school grounds is ludicrous. In the sake of clarity, it should further be noted that booster clubs are all independent and the decision was solely that of the club, not the district as a whole.
    The choice of this prize shows the organizers of the raffle likely got a deal on the pistol and have a good knowledge of their market.         They are certainly not alone in choosing guns to raffle off. From the yearly Ducks Unlimited to the local GOP to Veterans groups, firearms are pretty standard fare for prizes.
    And as far as we are aware, none of these guns has ever been put to misuse.
    There may be firearm violence issues in America, but they sure don’t come from gun
raffles to benefit youth sports.


Flat Earthers can take a hike


    Some times you just wonder if all intelligence has gone out the window. In what became a very public debate last week B.o.B., a famous rapper, and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson got into a spat over whether the earth is round or flat.
    B.o.B. first argued for the flat position with his direct observation – looks flat to me is essentially what he said   
    Dr. Tyson rebutted from a scientific background, explaining the optics that make the horizon look flat and how we are very small beings on a very large curved object and thus don’t see the curvature.
    The rapper then applied a classic move put forth by debaters with losing positions, lack of evidence, or people who simply don’t want their views questioned by anyone with facts – it’s a conspiracy against me. When pressed by science, B.o.B. alerted his 2.3 million online followers that he was going up against the “greatest liars” in history, to explain why his arguments were being challenged.
    There are always nuts out there, flat-earth believers, or whatever other conspiracy theory of the day is trending online.
    But what is truly disappointing and frightening is how many people voiced support for the rapper over the scientist in this debate and how effectively they were able to circle the wagons behind the idea that they were unmasking a great conspiracy and injustice.         Maybe some of the supporters were being sarcastic or enjoying the silliness of arguing that the world is flat. It would certainly be comforting to think they were joking rather than actually jumping on a flat earth bandwagon. But one worries that too many of the people simply believed what they were told by someone they recognized as  the more famous person in the debate.
    The saying from a commercial, “it must be true I saw it on the internet,” gets a fair amount of play in sarcastic circles. Exercise caution when deciphering outrageous claims online.
    Tyson himself explained his decision to join the fray as this, “There's a growing anti-intellectual strain in this country. It may be the beginning of the end of our informed democracy."