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‘Americans Kill People:’ Michael Moore on Newtown, Mass Shootings and US Culture of Violence

Amy Goodman
Democracy Now! / Video Feature
Published: Wednesday 19 December 2012
The legendary filmaker discussed the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre at a New York City event on Friday night.

We play an excerpt of an address by the legendary filmmaker Michael Moore delivered just hours after the Newtown massacre. Moore who won an Academy Award for his 2002 documentary, "Bowling For Columbine," about gun violence in the United States. He discussed the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre at a New York City event on Friday night.


AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to the Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore, who won that award for his 2002 documentary, Bowling for Columbine, about gun violence in the United States. On Friday night, Michael Moore appeared at the Bring Leonard Peltier Home 2012 event at the Beacon Theatre here in New York City, speaking just hours after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

MICHAEL MOORE: Earlier today, a crazy man went to an elementary school and attacked 22 children in China. A few hours before Connecticut, an elementary school was attacked in China by an insane man, and 22 children were his victims. But all he had was a knife. Total number of dead in the Chinese elementary school? Zero.

I hope you don’t mind, but I’d like to just say a few words about what happened today, because I’ve been concerned about this issue for a long time. Yes, we need more gun control. Yes, we need free mental health services in this country. But I really believe that even if we had better gun control laws and better mental health, that we would still be the sort of sick and twisted, violent people that we’ve been for hundreds of years, that it’s something that’s just in our craw, just in ourDNA. And to get that out of our DNA is going to take a lot more than passing a bill in Albany or D.C. That’s not going to do it.

And, you know, other countries, I mean, they have their crazy people, and they have people that—there have been shootings and killings in Norway, in France and in Germany. But there haven’t been 61 mass killings like there have been in this country just since Columbine. Sixty-one mass shootings in this country. I like to say that I sort of agree with the NRA when they say, "Guns don’t kill people, people kill people," except I would just modify that a bit and say, "Guns don’t kill people, Americans kill people," because that’s what we do. We invade countries. We send drones in to kill civilians. We’ve got five wars going on right now where our soldiers are killing people—I mean, five that we know of. We are on the short list of illustrious countries who have the death penalty. We believe it’s OK to kill you when you’ve committed a crime.

And then we have all the other forms of violence in this country that we don’t really call violence, but they are acts of violence. When you—when you make sure that 50 million people don’t have health insurance in your country and that, according to the congressional study that was done, 44,000 people a year die in America for the simple reason that they don’t have health insurance, that’s a form of murder. That murder is being committed by the insurance companies. When you evict millions of peoples—millions of people from their homes, that’s an act of violence. That’s called a home invasion.

All the wrong people are in prison in this country. I can’t believe we’re just standing blocks away from the biggest criminal operation that this country has ever seen, right down that street, and not one of them has gone to prison for what they’ve done. When you have eliminated so many millions of jobs, when you’ve ruined communities like mine, Flint, Michigan, you have killed people, because—because having seen firsthand the effects of these corporate decisions—the alcoholism, the drug abuse, divorce, suicide, all the social problems that go along with this act of violence—but we don’t call it violence, and no one’s ever arrested for it—I think it’s a real shame. And frankly, as an American, this is not how I want to be remembered.

AMY GOODMAN: Michael Moore, the Oscar-winning filmmaker, won the Academy Award for Bowling for Columbine after the Columbine massacre, speaking on Friday night just hours after the—after the massacre in Connecticut. Special thanks to filmmaker Lorna Tucker, who’s currently working on a documentary with the working title Leonard Peltier: An American Prisoner.

Author pic
ABOUT Amy Goodman

Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 900 stations in North America. She is the author of "Breaking the Sound Barrier," recently released in paperback and now a New York Times best-seller.

My invention is what I

My invention is what I proposed to the airlines anestizing darts throughout every campus in the country a panning camera with the capacity to shoot an anestizing dart put the perpertrator to sleep he wont even know what hit him.
this could be done cheaply it would have to keep someone at the controls of the cameras and employ many installers of camera darts. You dont want to add more on the citizens who have had guns for many years and then just take them
from them if the owners have shown personal responsibility then they should be left alone. Only if a gun owner is having mental issues would the guns be subject to confiscation. Why not a public fund to pay for proper gun cases so that the guns would be certain to be locked up and checked by some authority.

JR, I couldn't agree more

JR, I couldn't agree more with everything you say, but there is one important word missing from this dialogue, pharmaceuticals! While "mental health care" sounds like a good answer, the trouble today is "mental health care" = pharmaceuticals. Unfortunately, while it seems like an easy, quick answer, these drugs most often lead to disastrous, horrifying side effects, to name a few: aggression, depression, suicide, etc. Add these prescribed drugs to the violent activities you mention, and then add junk food that so many of these kids live on, because their mothers are so busy being uber women, and you have the perfect recipe for disaster!

Don't know how old you are, but when I was a student, prescribing drugs, especially to children, was unheard of. Today it is the norm. Michael Moore was supposed to be working on a documentary on Big Pharma; I hope that he goes through with it. It is easy to go after guns, but as you say so well, "making something illegal does not make it unavailable." It seems that in situations of mass shooting tragedies, guns have become the scapegoat for the side effects of many medications. There is a reason why our founding fathers added the second amendment to the Constitution---- a tyrannical government, and governments love their citizens to be unarmed. As Thomas Jefferson put it so well: "The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort to protect themselves against tyranny in government."

Thomas Jefferson was talking

Thomas Jefferson was talking about a government that had no better arms than the people at the time. The government today would not be stopped by a citizen militia for much more than a very short time. People win wars because they out gun the other side. The American Indians, Hawaiians and Puertoricans are living on US land today because the US government wanted it that way. If they want to believe the cold dead hand idea then there will be a whole bunch of cold dead hands.

Jatnip: While it is obvious

Jatnip: While it is obvious that the populace could not physically overcome the full force of government military, the very fact that 60,000,000 citizens own one or more firearms would cause any government to hesitate before attempting to tyrannically subdue their citizenry. The cost would be much too high
As a caveat:
In 1941, U.S. Attorney General Robert Jackson called on Congress to enact national registration of all firearms.1 Given events in Europe, Congress recoiled, and legislation was introduced to protect the Second Amendment. Rep. Edwin Arthur Hall explained: "Before the advent of Hitler or Stalin, who took power from the German and Russian people, measures were thrust upon the free legislatures of those countries to deprive the people of the possession and use of firearms, so that they could not resist the encroachments of such diabolical and vitriolic state police organizations as the Gestapo, the Ogpu, and the Cheka."2

1. New York Times, Jan. 4, 1941, 7.
2. 87 CONG.REC., 77th Cong., 1st Sess., 6778 (Aug. 5, 1941).

I too, choked back tears of

I too, choked back tears of anger, frustration, and deep sorrow this last weekend.

But I would like to take this to think that even Mr. Moore is starting to see that we should not plunge headlong into knee-jerk reactions that will accomplish nothing.

The "Gun Ban" route is worse that merely useless.
Regarding last week's tragedy, I fervently wish that someone---besides the lunatic gunman, that is---had been in possession of a firearm.

We are grieving and horrified, but that doesn't absolve us from our responsibility to exercise critical thought.
Nobody except the extraordinarily foolish thinks that somebody is going to wave some legislative magic wand, and all of the guns are going to simply go away.
Making something illegal DOES NOT make it unavailable.
It makes it EXPENSIVE, and that's about it.
Look no further than our spectacularly failed "War on Drugs" for all the evidence of this that a reasonable person could possibly need.

Further, punishing tens of millions of law-abiding citizens for the outrageous behavior of one or two insane individuals is, to say the least, bad public policy.

Similar courses of action are the reasons that we all now must submit to be treated like criminals in order to board a commercial airliner.
Look-see Hollywood-style nonsense called "Screening", none of it making us any safer than we were when we could just buy a ticket and get on an airplane.

At the Airport, we have pretty much sacrificed our 4th Amendment Constitutional Rights
Let us please not go down that road with our 2nd Amendment Rights. It won't make us safer.

As he mentions in this address, it would be a better idea to tackle the REAL problems:

Improved public access to quality Mental Health Care:

How many more people have to die before we realize that reforming this is in ALL of our best interests.
Many (mostly far-right-leaning) Politicians have been trying to tell us that there is no money for this. This simply does not pass the smell-test. Some things you can't afford NOT to do.
Further, they have been quietly emptying out State Hospitals all over the country...for more than a generation now.

Strange Cultural Values:
Don't misunderstand me, the people I am about to point out are protected by The 1st Amendment, as well they should be.
But...perhaps we should direct some of this newly-found ire toward movement targeted at taking Video Game Developers and Motion Picture Production Companies to task for producing ultra-violent products that GLORIFY CRIMINAL ACTIVITY AND GUN-PLAY.
These are making a stink-load of money producing this socially irresponsible entertainment.
(Sound familiar? Tobacco Executives?)
What is this doing to the minds, souls, psyches of our Young?
I think we had another clear indication, last week in Connecticut.

In summary, let's work the actual problems, Folks, not the symptoms.

And let us please stop and think this the rest of the way through, before we permit the short-sighted to sacrifice our constitutional freedoms upon the Alter of the Illusion of Safety.

Best regards---JR San Francisco

P.S....I personally think that background checks would not be such a bad idea.
Although I am forced to point out that it would have done absolutely nothing to prevent the horror in Newtown, Connecticut.

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