Please, go forth and tell the truth. There can be no free speech, no freedom of the press, no freedom to protest, no freedom to worship your god, no freedom to speak your mind, no freedom from fear, no freedom for your children and for theirs, for anybody, anywhere, without the Second Amendment freedom to fight for it.

If you don't believe me, just turn on the news tonight. Civilization's veneer is wearing thinner all the time.

~ “The Second Amendment: America's First Freedom” by Charlton Heston 1

Bowling for Columbine is the title of Michael Moore’s 2002 documentary film which examines gun violence in the United States, and asks the question, Why do so many Americans* kill each other with guns?

The title of the movie comes from the fact that Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, the young men who shot 13 students and one teacher at Columbine High School before killing themselves on April 20, 1999 were supposed to be in an early bowling class the morning of the shooting. At least five witnesses told police that the boys were at the bowling alley that morning.

After the shootings, everyone suddenly had opinions about what caused the boys to act the way they did. The “usual suspects” included bad parenting, violent video games, and evil rock music, in this case embodied by Marilyn Manson. Moore thinks that to blame these scapegoats

. . . make[s] about as much sense as blaming bowling. After all, Eric and Dylan were bowlers, they took bowling class at Columbine—was bowling responsible for their evil deeds? If they bowled that morning, did the bowling trigger their desire to commit mass murder? Or, if they skipped their bowling class that morning, did that bring on the massacre? Had they bowled, that may have altered their mood and prevented them from picking up their guns. As you can see, this is all nonsense, just as it is nonsense to blame Marilyn Manson.2

The documentary is very moving, and at two hours in length, more than a little overwhelming. Moore’s answer to the question he poses, and asks almost everyone in the film that he interviews, seems to be FEAR. Fear perpetuated by our government, and by the media in general—fear of strangers, fear of each other, fear of the unknown, fear of Black men. Moore has amassed an incredible number of facts and figures to support his premise, and weaves them together with stock footage of violence (film of wars, executions, and bombings all over the world; scenes from movies and television) and unexpected musical choices quite skillfully. He points out that while episodes of violence have actually decreased in recent years, the amount of time spent focusing on them on the news media has increased. He also tells us (much to my surprise) that there never was a razor found in anyone’s Halloween apple—the panic was started by a story describing a hypothetical situation that ran in the New York Times in October of 1970. 3 We are so easily influenced--and frightened--by the information we receive, and so rarely have the means to check its validity.

This is a movie worth seeing.

MPAA: Rated R for some violent images and language. Runtime: 120 min / USA:119 min Country: Canada / USA / Germany Language: English Color: Color Sound Mix: Dolby4

* (…and by “Americans”, I mean citizens of the United States.)


1At the National Press Club, September 11, 1997: quoted on 1/26/03 2 3 quoted in The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things, by Barry Glassner, 4