The game plays out every time there is a high-profile act of criminal violence.  There is an immediate media and left-blogsphere search to tie the shooter to a “right-wing” entity … usually the Tea Party movement.

Groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center have created a fundraising machine off of such guilt-by-association fear mongering.

Repeatedly we have seen the attempt to guilt the “right-wing” by association end with a complete lack of evidence of “right-wing” involvement, and sometimes with revelations that the shooter was left-wing and/or a Democrat:

By contrast, there was no media attempt to suggest Obama supporters or liberals in general were violent because an Obama-adoring ex-cop went on a murder spree.  To the contrary, that information was buried.

When it turned out that the Discovery Channel hostage taker was a liberal, Media Matters even cautioned not to draw conclusions:

So when it was revealed that Newtown, CT murderer Adam Lanza and his mother had NRA “certificates,” the media pounced to play up the NRA connection to create guilt by association.

Mother Jones Lanza NRA

Not surprisingly, Piers Morgan was in the lead:

Twitter - @piersmorgan - Lanza NRA

The NRA has reacted vigorously by searching its records and finding that Lanza and his mother were not members.

So what if Lanza had been an NRA member?

Would that have made the NRA and its 5 million members guilty by association?

Of course not.  The NRA promotes safe gun ownership and use, and it training courses emphasize safety.  I know that because I took one of those courses, and I recently joined the NRA (along with the Electronic Frontier Foundation).

While I understand the desire of the NRA to push back against media deception, that’s a necessary but ultimately losing game.  Eventually someone who is an NRA member will commit a murder, not because of membership in the NRA but despite it.

Like the proverbial broken clock, the ghouls eventually will be right.  And if you have accepted their premise that membership or association equals guilt by association, we are bound to lose the argument eventually.

That is how we lose, by playing on their terms.

This is how we win, by pushing back relentlessly on our terms (via Common Cents):