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Laramie Movie Scope:
Obama and Sandy Hook

Gun crazies make videos

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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January 27, 2013 -- My wife and I went to a steak house, T-Joes, near Cheyenne, WY to eat dinner a couple of weeks ago (the blackened prime rib was excellent, by the way). This is one of those rustic-looking places where they play country-western music everywhere on speakers all the time. They were giving away these free DVDs near the door so I took one.

It turns out this is just several YouTube videos strung together, no menu, or any sort of obvious organization to it. One segment is by the hacker group called “Anonymous” which recently hacked a government site in retaliation for the suicide of a famous hacker. The rest are podcasts ranging from very amateur to professional in quality.

The video opens with a video from a site labeled as “infowars.com”. This appears to be run by a fellow by the name of Alex Jones, at least it looks like him in the video. This video made a rather simple observation, which is entirely valid, and that is that President Obama personally designates targets for drone strikes, and that he is advocating a limited level of gun control. The conclusion of this observation of these two sets of observations is that Obama is a hypocrite because he orders the death of terrorists, so he should oppose gun control.

What? You might say. Just because Obama orders drone missile strikes against terrorists, that doesn't mean he has to side with those who murder children with guns in order to be consistent does it? The naked argument doesn't work, so what the video does is try to make it seem more reasonable by pointing out the fact that innocent women and children are also killed in these American strikes against terrorists. Women and children killed in drone strikes -- women and children killed at Sandy Hook. These are exactly the same? I think not.

The video goes a step farther, saying Obama is specifically targeting women and children who are not terrorists, but without offering a shred of proof of that allegation. If that were true, the Republicans would be all over Obama like a cheap suit, but they haven't said a word about it. In fact, in one of the presidential debates, Republican Mitt Romney said he supports Obama's use of drone strikes.

This argument put forth in the video, that no civilians should be killed in the pursuit of terrorists, seems to rest on a belief that drone strikes are more dangerous to civilians than conventional warfare is. This belief is false.

For instance, in the Vietnam War, less that 60,000 U.S. troops were killed, while some 2 million Vietnamese civilians died. Not a drone was used in those deaths. It was all done with conventional bombs, napalm, guns and knives. Since the middle of the last century, civilian deaths in war outnumber those of soldiers 10 to 1. By contrast, the current rate of civilian deaths (called collateral damage) in U.S. drone strikes is estimated at two percent.

Another video has to do with the Sandy Hook School massacre, citing conflicting media and eyewitness reports as proof of some kind of conspiracy and cover up. The implication here is that the whole thing was staged to provide public support for gun control. This video claims the media is unreliable, yet it relies on media reports for its facts, including CNN.

One of the obvious untruths in the video is that both fathers of the shooters involved in the Sandy Hook shootings and the Aurora, Colorado shootings were somehow involved in the Libor scandal and that both are scheduled to testify about the Libor scandal. In fact, according to snopes.com neither man was directly involved in Libor and neither was ever scheduled to testify about the Libor scandal. That is a pure urban legend, offered up as fact. Even if it was true, the video offers no scenario where there is a strategy or goal that would be served by such a linkage.

Another obvious untruth in the video is that there were multiple shooters at Sandy Hook rather than one. Again, these are based on mainstream media reports, which are unreliable. Well, which is it, are they reliable, or not? In fact, according to snopes.com (an urban legend site) there were several people questioned and briefly detained, including a parent trying to rescue his child at Sandy Hook. These people were all quickly released by police when it was discovered they had nothing to do with the shootings. At the Youtube site where a video making similar wild statements, there was a note that the video considered offensive and insensitive to the victims, had been taken down. DVDs can't be taken down like YouTube videos can.

Videos on this disk also note inconsistencies in eyewitness statements about the number of shooters at the Aurora theater and at Sandy Hook. Anyone familiar with these kinds of eyewitness statements at these kinds of incidents knows they are often inconsistent. Eyewitnesses can be very unreliable at times, especially when they have just gone through a very traumatic experience.

One of the things mentioned in the video was a recent attack against 22 children at a school in China by a person armed with a knife. The basic idea of this argument is that you don't need a gun to kill people so you should not outlaw guns. This is another non sequitur argument (the conclusion does not follow from the premises). Sure, you can kill people without using an atomic bomb to do it, but that doesn't mean you should not restrict people's access to nuclear weapons.

The really interesting thing about the knife attack at the school in China, however, is that not a single one of those 22 Chinese students who were cut died in that attack. Of course the video doesn't mention this, because it hurts their argument. The lesson here is if you want to kill a bunch of kids running around in a school, a gun is a much better weapon than a knife to do that job, especially a gun that fires a lot of bullets really fast, like an assault rifle. This is precisely why gun manufacturers oppose restrictions on assault rifles (such as not selling them to crazy people). Lives are a lot less important than the money they make from gun sales. Thank heavens we live in a democracy where gun manufacturers have a bigger say than citizens do when it comes to issues like safety. We know where our priorities lie.

One of these videos also had a bunch of crazy conspiracy theory stuff in it, such as tying some shootings to a group called the Illuminati, a scenario similar to a Dan Brown novel. The original Illuminati died off hundreds of years ago, but that doesn't mean they still can't be blamed for mass shootings. The idea here is to blame anyone or anything but the assault rifles, it seems.

The video that surprised me the most was the one from Anonymous (I guess it was really made by that shadowy group). It uses some of the same non sequitur arguments as in the other videos. It also makes the statement that it is illegal for crazy people to get guns. That is not true. It is perfectly legal for crazy people to buy guns, just as long as they haven't yet been officially declared insane by a court.

Unfortunately, a lot of the crazy people with guns are not declared insane by a court until after they have shot somebody. Such is the case of Jared Lee Loughner, who shot several people, including U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords on Jan. 8, 2011. James Holmes, the Aurora shooter, was so mentally disturbed that he was turned down for membership in a Colorado gun club. He was under psychiatric care, but was able to legally purchase guns and lots of ammunition anyway because he had never been officially declared insane by a court. Mental health laws in America are about as effective as our lax gun laws.

In short, the collection of videos is a collection of invalid arguments, half-baked conspiracy theories and stupid urban legends. This stuff is believable only for those who desperately want to believe it. Additional note: Yes, I've got a gun, and bullets too. This DVD rates an F.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2013 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)