I've gotten a lot of email regarding this webpage, and some of it tries to defend Moore. In the interests of equal time, I thought I'd post it for your review. Email addresses and names are deleted from the less intelligent ones, credit given for the more intelligent ones:
Subject: Hardy eh? any relation to Heston?
You're really reaching, i'll take the academy's word over yours that the film is infact a documentary, the day that the nomination is revoked i'll beleive these crazy accusations.
Shame on you for not giving respect to a valid poitical mind,
There are other ways to try and promote your film, although i'm sure this will work good for you,
I wish you no luck,
- Upset with jelous-less talented-bitter filmmakers
Good point about Lock Heed Martin. I knew that they did work on TV related gear, but I also knew they did some other cool stuff. I had to check out there site, look what I came across:
[Long list of websites on Lockheed's military contracts and products]
your site was interesting, but I felt obligated to inform you of some of your mistakes. You were mentioning that LockHeed Martin doesn't make missles, just rockets TV gear. Please make sure to correct this statement: For an example, Lock Heed Martin does make rockets for TV sattelites, but they also make missles and fire control for our government and other such agencies. Just wanted to point out that. Make sure to correct your statement before belittling Lockheed Martin. It is not wise to criticise a proud company and try to limit their potential costumers. I expect to see these links on your sites. I informed CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, BBC of your site and of the misinformation you are giving about Lockheed Martin.
Answer: I will not retract unless they give me one of each of those products as proof. I want to become the first law office in the state with serious ground-to-air capabilities. All products must be safe for use on a foam roof.
Of course Lockheed makes military stuff! Moore's claim was that the Denver plant makes it, and the killers might have been motivated by the thought that Dad works there to make stuff for mass destruction. The plant (and in fact that division of the company) does nothing of the type; its only relation to military launchers is to convert them to civilian space uses.
Thank you for the media contacts, I haven't had the time.
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Oops. Wrong email.
And to be fair, there were intelligent responses, which deserved intelligent replies. Here's one from "Mike DeWaele" <firstname.lastname@example.org>:
I love this movie, and felt a need to defend it. I would appreciate a response from you to my points, and maybe you could post it on your web page. Thank you.
Answer: consider it done.
In response to point 1 of the article:
Never mind the fact that Lockheed produces fighter jets, bombs, and other weapons, including most of the "smart bombs" currently being dropped on Iraq. Yes, shame on Moore, for not mentioning all the other things Lockheed manufactures.
Reply: Moore's claim was that having a Lockheed "missile plant" near Columbine might somehow have motivated the killers, since the killers have might been inspired by "Dad" making things for "mass destruction." The plant actually makes rockets to launch communications satellites and space missions, and turns former military missiles into one usable for civilian purposes. That's hardly a thought that'd drive a person to mass homicide.
I'm not myself entirely clear why we're fighting Iraq right now; I always figured wars are fought to protect your own nation's security, and Iraq is rather far away. But if we're going to: it does seem clear that the regime there is a pack of sadistic thugs, and if they vanish, everyone will be better off. If Lockheed's smart bombs help to bring it down, and save American lives, it sounds like a good thing to me. I'm waiting for development of the missile that will home in on the target's favorite brand of Scotch.
Point 2: I watched the film after reading this and I'll admit it is unfortunate that Moore misleads the viewer, but it still does not justify the NRA having it's meetings in the communities of these tragedies.
Reply: Moore tries to create the impression that the Denver NRA meeting was a large pro-gun rally in response to the slayings. That's false: the Denver meeting was an annual meeting, set years in advance. The Member's meeting (usually about four hours of a normal five-day meeting) was held because corporate law requires it to be held (members have a right to vote on resolutions, etc.). There was no way to change it: notice had already gone out to all four million members, via the official magazine, months before. New York law says a members' meeting can be rescheduled or relocated -- by vote at the original meeting. So you have to call the original meeting anyway, in order to relocated it. All the other NRA events were cancelled.
Moore, of course, says nothing of this. In fact he audio-edits Heston's speech to take out the sentence where Heston announces that all other events have been cancelled. Moore does not want the viewer to hear this. The truth is awkward at times.
The Flint event was held eight or ten months after the child was slain. It was an election event with no connection to the tragedy; Bush and Gore were in fact "stumping" Flint that very day. Moore held his own election rally for the Green Party in the same city weeks before, so I assume he agrees there's nothing wrong with holding election rallies before an election.
As I point out, Moore does a lot more than just mislead the viewer. He splices together speeches that were never made at Denver, takes care to hide this, and then cuts and pastes audio to make speakers say what he wants them to say, hiding each splice with a visual image. This is simply inexcusable in a "documentary."
Again I went back and watched the film; Moore doesn't say the KKK was founded in 1871, They (Moore is referring to whites that in response to supposed fear of revolting freed slaves) formed the KKK, and in 1871, the same year the Klan became an illegal terrorist organization, another group was founded, the National Rifle Association." As you see, it is not referring to the conception of the KKK, but the fact that due to the KKK terrorizing and murdering countless blacks it became an illegal organization.
Answer: Ah, but--
(1) you had to go back and watch it carefully a second time to see this, right? But for seeing this web page, you wouldn't have done that, and watched carefully for the exact wording used.
(2) Moore deals in IMPRESSIONS. The viewer is left (and I bet you were after the first viewing) with the impression that the Klan and NRA were associated -- not with the fact that the Klan was OUTLAWED and that happened in the same year NRA was FOUNDED. Let alone that the man who signed the bills outlawing the Klan went on to be elected president of the NRA.
(3) Let's be frank -- what was Moore's point here? What would be important about the Klan being outlawed in 1871 and NRA being founded in 1871? Nothing in particular. Moore wants you to read significance into it, and get exactly the impression you probably had on first viewing. Which is false, and he knows it.
Kudos to President Grant for imposing the Klan Enforcement Act, the fact that he joined the NRA after his presidency is irrelevant.
Answer: more than joined the NRA. NRA elected him its president, at a time when he was taking criticism for being the Klan's worst enemy. Reconstruction was then on the wane, the North was tired of the effort it was taking and was willing to abandon southern blacks in exchange for "peace." Grant wasn't willing to, and went public on it -- said that those complaining about reconstruction would have no cause to complain if they weren't murdering and oppressing blacks, so tough for them.
And NRA chose him as its president. This is far more relevant to the point Moore is trying to make, or to imply, than his mention of the year 1871.
And Kudos to Sheridan for removing the governor's who failed to impose the Klan Enforcement Act, but him being in the NRA is not the cause of that particular good moral judgment, correlation does not equate to causation.
Answer: the point is not NRA's electing him its president made him an enemy of the Klan. He already was that. (I left off that he also removed the chief justice of a state supreme court, and sent telegrams to Washington hinting that if they'd give him free reign, he'd deal with the Klan. Since he was right up there with Billy Sherman when it came to making war hell, it was pretty obvious what he wanted to do to Klansmen.)
The point is that NRA, led by Union officers, saw enemies of the Klan as heroic, and natural NRA leaders. They LOVED enemies of the Klan, at a time when most of the country was tired of that fight.
Moore thus mirepresents everything when he portrays NRA as linked to the Klan. Look at the movie -- he has cartoon klansmen doffing their pointed hats to become the NRA, and lighting crosses.
I'm not saying he is unfair -- I'll be more blunt: he lies about history whenever he wants to smear someone. And not just history.
I'm sure there are members of the NRA I could respect to a degree, but the fact that they are in the NRA garners them less respect from me, Moore included.
I'm not even going to give his point about the boy any credence, the author is essentially attacking a young child who grew up in a ghetto around a drug dealing uncle, absolutely irresponsible and ridiculous.
Reply: Okay, so the "little boy" goes around stabbing people from time to time. We all have our little "episodes.' My point is that Moore misrepresents the situation by omitting all relevant facts here.
And whoop dido! The boys mother was promoted from minimum wage to $7.85/hour, clearly that's still not enough to take care of a child, pay bills in addition to a $300 rent, and deal with a crack dealing brother!
Add to that Moore interviews a man who appears to single on a bus heading to the welfare-to-work jobs who makes $8.50/hour, and he states that isn't enough to pay the bills. Add to that (and Moore mentions this) because she is now employed and making a resounding, $7.85/hour, she has to pay back some of her welfare, feel free to chalk that onto her list of monthly bills.
Reply: I finally deleted this section from the webpage, for several reasons. First, it's almost impossible to calculate what she was really making. As to the second job, there's no salary data and Moore says she worked "up to 70 hours a week" -- no way to know if that was typical or a one-time event. It's even less clear whether she still got food stamps, subsidized rent and child care: some newspaper articles implied that she did, but were somewhat ambiguous about it.
Further, I found Moore's source -- he appropriated the entire story from the World Socialist Website. And, frankly, they did a much better job of researching and arguing the points, and rather convinced me.
Point 5: In the film it states, "2000-01: U.S. gives Taliban-ruled Afghanistan $245 million in 'aid.'" Note that aid in quotes, Moore is making the simple point that this money is going to a terrorist lead country! Chances are the Taliban were able to reroute some of that money into their pockets.
Answer: You're saying the Taliban wasn't honest? Well, it's getting to where you can't trust anyone these days.
If the argument is that humanitarian aid is a bad thing wherever it can be misappropriated, then we're going to have to stop humanitarian aid. I assume that was NOT Moore's point.
C'mon, Moore just wanted a flashy headline, and so ignored the facts.
The author here is making the same mistake of micro-managing the statistics as Moore did.
Answer: Moore hardly micro-manages them. He just says Canada has fewer homicides, and implies that proves something.
I pointed out there are a lot of differences here, and a simple comparison doesn't hack it. There are population density differences (as in ten to one -- albeit Canada has a lot of empty land in the north which artificially inflates this), then I added comparison sof bordering US states (which have comparable homicide rates to Canada, and some lower than Canada), then added some comparisons of cities (again, US cities near Canada have quite low homicide rates) and some rural data from the US. My point is NOT that the two are comparable, but that a simple comparison can be met by other simple comparisons.
But Moore's point still stands, that as a whole, looked at proportionately, there simply is much less gun violence in Canada despite more relative gun ownership.
Less gun violence despite more guns... the thesis begins to resemble John Lott's book "More Guns, Less Crime."
And the fact that the United States is more urbanized is irrelevant, Canada is urbanized as well, and if you adjust the numbers proportionately, Canada is simply less violent.
Reply: I don't see any adjustment done here, and am unwilling to take it as a matter of faith.
Staged, I doubt it. [Canadian Wal-Mart scene]
Answer: I'd be sure of it. Remember, this guy isn't just walking around -- there's a whole camera crew tailing him. Probably the camera is on a tripod, with 2-3 guys monitoring video and the audio levels, and holding a boom mike just out of sight over the Canadian Wal-Mart saleslady's head. And of course Wal-Mart managment wanting to clear the filming first. But staging is a minor affair, if what is staged is at least honest, so let it pass. Let's look at whether it was in fact an honest staging.
You can't fault Moore for Wal-Mart's ignorance.
Answer: I doubt it was the Canadian Wal-Mart's ignorance. He probably just asked them to stand there while he pretended to buy the ammunition, and probably said skip the law, I'm not really buying this, okay? We're talking about criminal liability if someone at that counter fouls up. Here in the States, you'll find that a Wal-Mart or whatever may have guns on display, but the people at that counter know all the legal requirements, or to summon one of the employees trained in them, before they make a transfer. I doubt Canadian law is looser, or safer to disobey.
If the real legal requirements get in the way of the story Moore wants to tell, the viewer is never going to see them. And this is supposed to be a documentary....
But I'm glad to now know that by-in-large it isn't that easy to buy ammunitions in Canada.
It was a simple summary given by Moore about the [B-52] plaque, spun perhaps, but true.
Answer: I'd classify taking a plaque that says a bomber downed an enemy fighter (i.e., attacking it -- the only way you get within gun range of a B-52) and sadly saying that it commemorates "killing Vietnamese people" is more than a bit of a spin. Sort of like taking a WWII B-17 and saying "the Allied crew painted on its nose their boasts of having killed Europeans." Even Himmler would have drawn the line there!
And why did they commemorate the fact that it downed a fighter? Because in a B-52 / fighter encounter, the B-52 almost always went down. It had very little defensive armament -- one gun mount in the tail -- a LOT less than a WWII bomber. Even if the fighter had already used its missiles, it had only to come in from above, below, or the sides, and the B-52 had no defense at all.
The plaque isn't celebrating killing (for all we know, the enemy pilot bailed out), but the fact that the American bomber came off the better in a fight where all the odds were against it.
And again I went to the film, Moore is not quoting the plaque, I don't want to argue semantics, but the plaque is shown and you can clearly see that it has more text that what Moore is saying.
Answer: the plaque is shown from a distance, sufficiently far to make sure you can't read it. You can at best make out its outline. And Moore tells what is supposedly on the plaque. That's not a matter of semantics, but of simple honesty. You can't even trust the narrator to say what he's reading, and making sure you don't read yourself.
"In the end he concludes that Canada isn't peaceful because it lacks guns and gun nuts, and attributes the different to the fact that the Canadian mass media isn't into constant hyping of fear and loathing, and the American media is.
So Bowling is actually not against guns, gun ownership, or even gun nuts. Outlaw television, not guns! Bowling is against, and as I point out, fraudulently against, Charlton Heston, and against the NRA. This is a bit anomalous, since Moore ultimately concludes that they are telling the truth, but never mind."
Give me a break! This follows the creed, "guns don't kill people, people kill people."
Answer: Chuckle. My point was -- in the end, that's exactly what Moore concludes. Watch the ending of the movie.
If this is inaccurate, you'd best talk to Moore, not to me. In the end he concludes you can have guns all over the place and yet have a very low gun violence rate. In short -- NRA is right, Heston is right, and Brady Campaign is dead wrong.
Allow me a rebuttal, "Guns don't kill people, stupid people, many influenced by media and with easy access to guns, kill people."
Better tell it to Moore. I'm busy trying to figure out why the Brady Campaign congratulated him on his nomination. Did they forget to watch the movie before they endorsed it, or did Moore manage the greatest leg-pull of all time?
While I agree with you that "Bowling For Columbine" is not a documentary in the true sense of the definition, I feel you are missing the point of the film. All films contain an element of manipulation used to entertain or make a point. The story of "U571" is a case of the truth being distorted to put behinds on seats and boost the box office. The whole truth does not always earn so many dollars.
Is true. But that's all the more reason not to have fictionalized entertainment, financed with and aimed at big bucks, competing in the documentary class. "Schindler's List" may be based on real occurences, but it is not a documentary. Neither were "Gettysburg," "Glory," or numerous other films based on actual events.
If someone had submitted U571 as a documentary, I'd be calling for a march on Hollywood. [For those not in on the story, U571 is "fact based" only in the sense that someone during WWII captured a U-boat. Other than that, the entire story is invented . . . . down to having the US Navy make the capture, when actually it was the Royal Navy.]
Regardless of all the minor points you take issue with,
I'd consider fabrications of major parts of the documentary more than minor points.
you do not seem to dispute the main claim of the film. It reports that over 11,000 people die each year from shootings.
His numbers may be inflated, but, yes, it's certainly thousands. And not unique to shootings, either. Several thousand die from stabbings, from beatings, etc.
This is the most important point and the film tries to explain the mentality behind a nation that is so ready and able to kill its own citizens. Nowhere else in so called civilised societies do so many people die at the hands of their own countrymen, why is that? Guns and bullets do not kill. People do.
Any work that tries to explain the mental state of the US people is a brave thing to do. The basic message is that you are a nation of scared insecure people. Scared enough to shoot and maybe take a human life. While a large proportion of the world outside the US recognise this, the citizens of the US do not. To make a film exposing your problems to you from within your own country has to be applauded.
As far as this part of Moore's thesis goes -- frankly, he doesn't bother to prove it. That media hypes fear because it sells hardly proves that the nation is terrified. Killer bees--big deal. I've got killer scorpions around the house. The bark scorpions that are supposed to be so deadly. Sure. One got me in the toe while I slept; I've had worse bee-stings. Unlocked doors? When the weather is good, like today, I leave my doors open, not just unlocked all day, and so do my relatives down the road. If Moore was making a documentary on fear, I think it was his duty to do more than show some newscasts, show that a guy sells security doors, and open some doors in one block of a Canadian city.
Second, Moore does not even make an effort at proving that homicide rate variations result from this supposed fear. I've studied the matter at some length, and have represented a couple of killers. Almost all killings fall into two classes: in the course of another crime, such as robbery or drug dealing, or in the heat of rage, usually involving two people who are both seriously intoxicated, and at least one of them enraged to the point of homicide. (Most of the offenders have prior violent offenses as well -- they're people who regard physical violence as an ordinary way to settle a dispute.) Fear is no motivator in either class of killer.
Moore might have been able to make a point were he to argue that TV accustoms people to the idea of deadly interpersonal violence as an ordinary way of dealing with difficulties. That is, its effect is not the creation of fear, but teaching by example. I have no evidence here, but the fact that advertising firms will pay millions to have Tom Cruse drink Coke rather than Pepsi, in the hopes that viewers will emulate even this detail of conduct, suggests that they certainly think it works.
The problem for Moore here might be that that undercuts his thesis that it's news and not fiction that is the problem. News can create fear as fiction cannot, but either can teach by example.
I have worked with Americans here in the UK and find it disturbing how much they love there guns and miss not having them here.
Magazines, videos and the internet keep them in touch with their passion for shooting at things.
There's a fellow here who has a quad-50 antiaircraft rig. He's a millionaire, and has to be. Thing costs about $50 a second to keep in ammunition, and probably a hundred thousand to buy.
That is scary, but as long as you all stay at home and just shoot your own citizens then the rest of the world does not really care.
Just remember: if it hadn't been for a bunch of heavily armed Americans, we'd be having this conversation in German.
Only 6% of US citizens have a passport and that is no bad thing. I on the other hand have visited twenty two countries and can confirm that nowhere else on my travels have I felt as insecure as when I was in the USA.
Actually, from what the BBC has to say, it sounds as if no Briton is safe from violent crime--maybe we ought to be sending you our guns again (this time, give them back afterwards!)
"[V]iolent crime in America has been plummeting for 10 consecutive years, even as British violence has been rising. By 1995 English rates of violent crime were already far higher than America's for every major violent crime except murder and rape. You are now six times more likely to be mugged in London than in New York." Source
Of course, that's still better than Australia. For example, in fiscal year 2000-2001 Australia reported 381 homicides among its 19 million people. Source. If we were to apply its rate to the US population, that'd work out to 5,715 murders. Lower than the actual U.S. numbers, but since it reflects a 20% increase in a single year, they're likely to be catching up soon.
(The above source puts a peculiar spin on this data, by the way. Although reporting a 20% increase in murders, and a 100% increase in intra-family killings, it is headlined that "In 2001-2002 there was a 25 per cent decrease in the use of firearms to commit homicide." Great: what it really means is that gun homicides fell slightly, but were more than offset by increases in all other means of murder. That's bad news, not good, unless you're very picky about how you get killed.)