Tennessee gubernatorial candidate Rep. Diane Black made news across the country the other day. You may have heard about it.
Among the headlines:
» Republican Diane Black of Tennessee says porn causes school shootings
» Rep. Diane Black of Tennessee says pornography is a "root cause" of school shootings
» Tennessee lawmaker says pornography is "root cause" of school shootings
» Lawmaker blames porn for school shootings
» TN lawmaker: Pornography the "root cause" of school shootings
The only problem is Black, speaking during a listening session with pastors last week, never made a direct link between pornography and school shootings.
The audio is available, but even news sites that provided a link to the audio took her remarks out of context. She did mention school shootings and she did mention pornography, but her remarks centered on the "deterioration of the family."
When children "don't have that good support system," Black said, they start "looking for something."
They look for "something maybe on the internet," she said, "maybe with a small group of friends, and they're going in the wrong direction."
Black went on to excoriate violent movies and stated she couldn't watch such movies with her husband or grandchildren because she was not desensitized to them.
Then she turned to pornography and instead of making the obvious point about the proliferation and availability of online filth, she described a picture of 1980s America when pornography began to make further inroads on VHS tapes.
"Pornography — it's available," Black said. "It's available on the shelf when you walk in the grocery store. Yeah, you have to reach up to get it, but there's pornography there."
The Gallatin Republican then went back to speaking generally but uttered the words that caused news outlets to take her words out of context.
"All of this," Black said, referring to the variety of internet content, violent movies and grocery-store VHS pornography, "is available without parental guidance, and I think that is a big part of the root cause."
In other words, the deterioration of the family — inherent in the lack of parental guidance, displayed in allowing children unlimited and unchecked internet viewing, which includes pornography — is a root cause of school shootings.
Black is absolutely right. The number of mass shootings where the perpetrator came from a traditional home, with a father and a mother, and grew up with what used to be honored as traditional values, is minuscule, if it exists at all.
But "deterioration of the family," however documented as a factor in behavior, social development, education, crime and lack of success in life, is not sexy, is so yesterday and won't make headlines. But linking school shooting and pornography, even if the headlines imply that pornography is no more dangerous than video clips of kittens and ducklings? That'll hunt.
Black followed her words about "all of this" by echoing a call many on the left and right have made that "mental illness is something we ought to address," and she added that "we've got to address family."
None of that made the sensationalized stories, though.
If we said we were surprised by what was done to Black, we'd be lying. The words of Republicans are frequently taken out of context and twisted to mean something else.
The media visit such on President Trump with impunity, but he's also his own worst enemy with his tweets, his superlative phrases and his off-the-cuff remarks.
The president, for instance, recently used the phrase "animals" to describe the terroristic MS-13 group, but many news outlets intentionally claimed he was referring to illegal immigrants, causing unnecessary scorn to be heaped on him.
U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., also knows how words can get changed. Twitter initially took down a campaign video last October in which she mentioned fighting "the sale of baby body parts," calling it inflammatory, but eventually restored it.
In general, we have our policy differences with Black, but neither she nor any other candidate deserves to have their words taken out of context. Such actions are especially disheartening when the breakdown of the family — her actual point — is so critical in being the cause of so many of the woes visited on the country and the world today.