The Equalizer: Why is Denzel Washington More MacGyver than Robert McCall
From 1985 to 1989 English actor Edward Woodward was The Equalizer, aka Robert McCall, a former well armed shadowy governmental agent who “had gun and traveled,” albeit not very far, to help the innocent; why then, in the big screen adaptation is Denzel Washington more like MacGyver than Robert McCall? Anyone watching the film its opening weekend would have noticed that, unlike the small screen version of the character, McCall used quite a number of implements to kill the bad guys. Implements that were not guns. It should also be pointed out that in Mr. Woodward’s televised, and fairly violent, series the villains were mostly homegrown rapists, murderers, blackmailers, et al versus the Russian baddies in the film versio
CNN have never explained just what the American public did that was so horrible that it decided to inflict Piers Morgan on them, it took the transplanted Englishman over three years to finally sing his swan song, and it was not soon enough. The brash Brit has been a loud mouthed opponent to American’s rights to bear arms. His opinion, based on the rules of his own country, is that citizens do not have the right to protect themselves.
So the President has submitted for our consideration a new gun control bill. Just looking at the bare essentials being presented via the internet I don’t really see why the NRA has taken the automatic (pun intended) stance of deriding the Presidents bill. In case you’ve missed it the bill sets up banning automatic weapons, limiting magazines to 10 bullets, introduces universal background checks for all firearms buyers and increased scrutiny of mental health patients. Personally I see nothing wrong with the above measures.
Taking an overall look at the measures it looks like the most sensible for a gun culture society. In a nutshell (to me anyway) the bill says to me that psychotic nutcases with a hard-on against anyone cannot easily get access to an automatic weapon with 20 rounds in the magazine and more importantly if the prospective gun owner has a history of mental issues he has no chance to purchase one either. Yet the majority of the population will still be able to purchase fire arms. I do think that semi automatic weapons should be left out of the equation, because that is one step away from banning Mr or Ms Average from owning a handgun.
I expected the NRA to scream like a raped panther and I was not disappointed. In a perfect world the NRA would not necessarily embrace the new bill, but would actually use their powerful lobby to fine-tune it. Unrealistic I know.
I have always firmly believed that the right to bear arms is not open to debate. To open this constitutional right (that is spelt r-i-g-h-t and not p-r-i-v-i-l-e-g-e) to debate leads to the inevitable issue of the common man not having the right to own a firearm to protect his family and property and letting the criminal (who does not follow the law) own whatever weaponry he wants. It could be argued that the new gun control bill will be ignored by the criminal fraternity.
Of course it will. There is a huge black market out there for illegal weapons up for purchase by whoever has the contacts and the money already. The only thing that is a guarantee in all this controversy is that the criminal fraternity will make money out of all this. I have become a more fervent believer in the right to be armed after spending most of my adult life in a country where no one owns handguns and only a few have shotguns. I hasten to add that this is the law-abiding citizenry here, although a “law-abiding” citizen took his “legal” shotgun and killed a lot of people in Wales not too long ago while he drove his taxi cab around a village; the criminal’s are armed and not just with shotguns, automatic weapons and handguns are used when they feel it necessary.
I can also tell you that in a country where guns are illegal the government do not want you as a private citizen to protect yourself. It is far better in the law’s eyes to let yourself be shot, stabbed, robbed, raped or murdered first and then let the overworked wheels of justice grind on and solve the case (or not). In essence it is more or less a law that you as a private citizen can only be classed as a victim, otherwise you can find yourself locked up with the very people you were protecting yourself from.
But let me get off my soap box for minute, I did not really mean to step up there anyway. The thing that brought all this issue to the front of my mind was the reference to the Sandy Hook ElementarySchool massacre in Newtown Connecticut. The current administration is waving the massacre around like a “Remember the Alamo” flag. The very act of surrounding the podium with school children reeks of purposeful emotional blackmail. “Look” it says, “look at what is at stake here. Don’t you want to save your children?”
The very fact that they feel comfortable trotting out the young corpses of the Sandy Hook tragedy says a lot. I am not going to trot out old tired statistics here. I’ve done so in another post. But in a sort of recap, I will point out that fewer people die each day as a result of gun violence than in a car accident. Don’t get me wrong though, the numbers are damned close. But if thinking that reducing the average law-abiding citizen’s access to guns will lower this number, I think you are being too optimistic.
The whole Sandy Hook thing has a touch of unreality to it. Not only because it seems unreal that anyone, madman or not, would shoot little kids; but also the parents reactions to the situation seemed bizarre. One news coverage video on the day of the massacre showed parents who were saying how awful it was and how frightening, etc while they both stood smiling for the cameraman. That in itself is disturbing on a deeper level, but just as disturbing are all the cries of “hoax” and “staged” and the seemingly inevitable conspiracy theorists.
In 1984 a man entered a San Ysidro California MacDonald’s and shot 21 people to death. The killer, 41 year-old James Huberty only stopped after a SWAT sniper took him out. No one suggested there was any staging going on nor did anyone come up with a conspiracy theory.
Too long ago? Okay, how about the 1999 Columbine shooting. Two senior students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shot and killed 13 people; 12 of which were fellow students, and injured a further 21 fellow students. This duo of death then committed suicide. The great outcry at the end of all that death and violence was not one of conspiracy, but one of anguish and looking for a reason for the horrible thing that happened.
People interviewed the day of the shootings were in shock. Tears were shed by people who had not lost anyone in the tragedy, but they cried at the very thought of it. Sandy Hook for some reason has fallen into a Twilight Zone event in the public’s eyes. The two parents with their child in the video clip I referenced *But guess what? I cannot find that clip anywhere.* seem to have a problem of deciding whether to be cheerful for the camera or concerned as parents. The whole country seems confused and that concerns me. Apart from the usual, “Let’s blame this on violent video games,” argument; the country has descended into a sort of conspiracy madness.
A madness that implied that the event hadn’t even really occurred; it was staged by the US administration. It was a publicity stunt set up to allow gun control to be legislated. Fingers are being pointed at anything that doesn’t “look right” by some arbitrary standard that seems to change daily. I am not jumping on the conspiracy train here; I’ll walk if it’s alright with you. I will admit that deep down the very timing of Sandy Hook seems wrong and (if I am really honest) pretty damned convenient for a President who is very much for gun control.
Conspiracy has been a watchword or catchphrase of America since Watergate. But I honestly think that someone in the White House is secretly glad that Sandy Hook happened. I do not doubt that someone up there gave a victory fist-pump in the air and went, “Yes! Just what we have been waiting for; a target that will appeal to every single parent out there, Mr President the time is now for our new gun control bill.”
So there you have it, a new gun control bill and a re-visit to Sandy Hook and the horror associated with it. You’ll have to forgive me if I don’t take a walk down that memory lane with you. In the meantime, I will worry about the unreal direction this entire thing is taking and I am hoping that I do not see Rod Serling hanging around. Of course the other thing I’ll be watching for is whether or not there will be a concerted effort to change the Constitution as it is currently in respect to the right to bear arms.
In one of the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author Edna Buchanan‘s books she (The Corpse had a Familiar Face, Vice, et al) wrote about a shootout at one of Miami‘s larger shopping malls in the 80’s. “The only people who screamed and ducked for cover were the cops. Everyone else thought that an episode of Miami Vice was being filmed.”
Therein lays the problem with violence in real life versus violence in “reel” life. Despite the bleeding hearts of the world who still scream to the rafters that television and films are too violent and that Mr and Mrs Joe Citizen and their offspring are becoming anesthetized to the effects of violence, I argue that the reverse is true.
Very few directors in this day and age have the cojones to show just how sickening, and let’s face shocking, real violence is. Real violence is painful, bloody, sudden, and sometimes, final. In real life no one is blasted off their feet by being shot or hurled backward (or forward) by the force of the bullet striking their body. Buckets of blood do not flow when they are stabbed unless the person doing the stabbing has twisted the blade when withdrawing it.
Real violence takes modern men, women and children aback. It throws them off-balance and they do not know how to react. In this modern-day and age of “civilised” society where everyone is given benefit of the doubt and bad guys/gals are dealt with by the legal system, people have become sheep (aka victims) of a great lie.
That someone else will protect you.
My daughter and I were discussing the Sandy Hook shootings. It is not often that we both, Meg and I, share pretty much the same epiphany but this was one of those moments.
Looking at me over her scrambled eggs and toast she said, “It looks like only one person tried to stop the kid from shooting.” I thought about this and while trying to come up with a suitable response, she finished with, “And there is nothing in the news about the shooter except a name, Adam Lanza. No one seems to know anything about him. Don’t you find that odd?”
I do and I don’t.
The world is full of people who have fallen through the cracks of everyday society. Home schooling, the internet, the “new” version of the nuclear family all make insulation an easy lifestyle to maintain. What is odd is that this 20 year-old nut did not have a traceable history (there wasn’t even a photo of the guy in his yearbook) and he doesn’t appear on any social networks either.
What we do know is Mom was a gun enthusiast and she regularly took her boys to the shooting range to improve their aim. These trips proved to have fatal consequences for not only the adults and children Adam killed, but for her as well as it appears she was his first victim on the 14th of December 2012.
But my post is not about Adam Lanza so much as it is about the adult’s reaction to him. This skinny social inept – he allegedly had Aspergers syndrome – who, despite his guns, was not physically threatening. This was no Rambo-like warrior. This was an almost anorexic looking kid in combat fatigues who was armed.
*I would just like to point out here that the guns used by Lanza and the one found in his car all belonged to Momma Lanza and not Adam. He tried to unsuccessfully buy a gun and was denied the privilege. The point being that folks that want to use guns to kill don’t have to own them, they just have to have them; legally or illegally. So gun control lobbyist’s just chew on this fact for a while.*
What concerns me is that only one person tried to stop Lanza, the vice principal if I remember correctly, but it doesn’t matter who it was. What matters is it appears that only one individual realised that this was real. Real enough to be acted against and not just reacted to.
I have worked for the last ten years as a prison officer in the United Kingdom. I have seen violence first hand over that time. Nothing lethal, thank God, but pretty gruesome. Prison officers react quickly to threat and to violent action. We have to, it’s part of our job. What is not part of our job is recognising that a threat exists and keeping an eye on it. We try to intervene as quickly as possible to prevent more people getting hurt.
Policemen and women do the same thing, but in the civilian environment and with a lot more lethal results and weapons. The worst “weapon” I’ve seen in action was batteries in a sock that could possibly kill someone and definitely gave someone a concussion.
But the point I am trying to make is that your average person has no “awareness” of threat nor do they have the presence of mind to react assertively in the face of that threat. People now rely too much on having someone else act for them. After all, that’s what the police are for, right?
Police, as they themselves will tell you, are an after the fact organisation. The police will gladly tell you that there is no way in hell (my emphasis not theirs) that they are able to protect everyone. But people want to believe that in this civilised modern world that we live in, the police can and do “protect and serve.”
But we need to face the facts that unless the cops are right there when the threat presents itself, they will not be able to respond quickly enough to save anyone.
I am not saying that the answer lay with more firearms being available to more people or even that folks should start strapping gun belts on before they leave the house.
I am saying that people need to be more aware and less “politically sensitive” to others. The question everyone should be asking is this, “How in the world did this skinny 20 year-old madman get into the school to begin with?” I am not pointing a finger of blame at anyone here. The point is that no one apparently felt that something was wrong until the young man began shooting.
No one, apparently, noticed that this guy did not belong. No one was aware.
I raised my daughter to always be aware of her surroundings. Not only that but to be aware of people who did not “feel” right; that person that you pass on the sidewalk or hallway who is giving off “bad” or “not normal” vibes. The place where bushes or trees are too close to the road or path you are on; a place just perfect to get mugged or worse.
I am not saying be paranoid, but be aware. I’ve lived for over 54 years and a good portion of those I was aware of what was going on around me. I have been in strange cities all over the world and walked alone through a lot of dodgy places and not once have I had something bad happen as a result.
I have been lucky, I know that, but I have also been aware. I would also, I like to think, have tried to stop the young man.
I was trained, along with other prison officers, how to disarm someone with a knife or a gun (although the instructors always went to great pains to explain that no one is faster than a bullet) so that other people, and of course yourself, would not be hurt. I’ve never had to do either and probably never will.
But with modern societies focus on law and order and the breeding of a generation of sheep leads me to believe that the reason that more of these mass shootings (mass murders) are happening more often is because of the lack of response by those being threatened or killed. I am not talking about children here I am talking about responsible adults.
Have we lost the ability to recognise real violence and death? Like the citizenry that Edna Buchanan talks about at the Miami mall shootings, do we view all violence as a film scenario? When we hear a gunshot (providing we even realise a gun has been fired) do we automatically look for the cameras and the film crew?
Have we become so “cowed” by the sight of blood and death that we cannot react to stop the violence? I don’t mean to imply that everyone needs to have a “have-a-go-hero” attitude and be a John McClane. Sandy Hook elementary had heroes, one of which quickly hid her charges in a closet and lied to the gunman about where they were.
It would be nice to think that everyone could or would be so quick-witted. But most people when interviewed after the fact all say that the violence and death did not feel real. Sadly due to the cinematic style of violence in the movies real violence, that is still painful and bloody, is not cinematic. It is harder to recognise because it is, compared to its celluloid cousin, quite low-key and not put through a Dolby sound system.
But we must not let ourselves believe the lie that others will protect us and our families. We are just as responsible and more importantly we are probably closer to the violence when it is happening.
I know that gun control will rear its ugly head again and the NRA and the anti-gun crowd will go to battle stations once again. On Twitter some idiot from the UK said, “We outlawed handguns after our school massacre and have had no more mass shootings since.” Besides sounding like a pompous prig, this fine chap also forgot to mention the several victims in Cumbria, Wales (part of the United Kingdom) shot to death in 2010 or injured by a 52 year-old taxi driver who shot innocents with a legal shotgun.
A bit of news for you mate, a shotgun is not a handgun, all right?
The lesson that could be learned is that we need to be not only more aware, but to be more active in trying to stop the violence. I know that before I trained and worked as a prison officer, I always had the attitude that if someone was trying to hurt or kill me or someone around me, I would try to stop them. Failing that? I’d at least have slowed ’em down a bit and given someone else a chance to get away.
I pray that I never have a chance to find out if I really would or could react quickly enough to try. Of course I also pray that people start realizing that they themselves are the first person responsible for stopping the violence and for protecting themselves.
And like the NRA like to say, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” True enough, but guns (besides being a damned good deterrent) are made to kill. But if someone wants to kill badly enough, they don’t need a gun. Hell a golf club can be used to kill someone and you’ll need to “get up close and personal” to do it.
Let’s leave the gun issue out of it, shall we? Let’s concentrate on being more aware.
Whilst reading my blog comments and perusing my Facebook page, Twitter, et al, I noticed a few more references to yesterday’s horrific events at Sandy Hook elementary school.
It seems to be the sort of thing that has become popular with the crazies who own a multitude of guns. This particular nut had two 9mm hand guns and what looks like a “sniper” rifle.
Someone on Twitter posted a Twitpic of the sniper rifle and asked the question, “What does your average citizen need this type of gun for?” The “old” me would have said, for deer hunting of course or other such big game. The new me says, “Yes, why would you need that type of gun?”
More accurately, why do you need two 9mm handguns and a .223 sniper rifle? Yes, the constitution states that all Americans have the right to bear arms. But do we need an arsenal of guns to protect our hearth and home? Is the right to bear arms for our personal defence inclusive of an armoury of weapons for both long-range and short-range protection?
It seems to me, in this day and age of computerization, that we have the ability to track and trace applications for weapons beyond the residence test. You will excuse me if I am not up on the more recent requirements necessary to purchase firearms in America. The last gun I bought was in 1981. But back then you only had to have a valid driver’s license to prove your age and that you had been a resident of that particular state for over six months.
Since that long time ago, we’ve become more computerized. There are a plethora of data bases out there with our names on them. It should be possible for someone to notice when an individual starts buying more than a couple of weapons.
I am not sure if that will help to “keep a lid” on the amount of nut cases out there who collect guns for their own personal Armageddon or apocalyptic shoot out, but it couldn’t hurt. At least then, we would have the chance to ask, before allowing a further purchase of weaponry, as to why they need it.
Answers in triplicate and no misspellings, please.
We’ve had at least two horrific events in a public place in America in this year alone. A movie theatre and an elementary school, please forgive me if I’ve missed anyone who lost a loved one in another mass shooting. I’m not overly familiar with all the news, just the ones that strike a chord in me.
There has been a rise in the number of school shooting in the last decade. Who can forget the massacre of the Amish children in a small school-house in 2006? There are more – a disturbing amount more – cases of young children paying the price of one (or more) man’s madness. Sadly so many more that I can’t remember them all.
There must be some way, besides adopting the British form of gun control, which can help to prevent this type of thing happening in the future. I suppose you could say that if one or more of the teachers could have been armed and possibly could have blasted the gunman out of his shoes, but do we really want our children to receive their education at the OK Corral? But that is a lot of could‘s with no shoulds to balance them out. So what should be done?
I still believe that if the government decide to pass any sort of “extreme” gun control that American‘s have the right to bear arms. That should never change. But I also believe that the right to bear arms does not mean the right to own a huge amount of weapons. Unless you are a “survivalist” the average family doesn’t need a huge stockpile of weapons and ammunition.
But that is not what this blog post is about. The issue of gun control will rage on until enough innocents pay the price for the lackadaisical attitude about weapons from the government.
This post is about a group of children and unarmed adults who were massacred in a school on Friday. When I say down to write this post I had a prayer jump in my conscious thought. It was the first prayer I was taught as a child, it is possibly the first prayer a lot of children learn.
“Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.”
If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”
I think that perhaps the prayer could be changed. A little something to help kid prepare for life today in the educational playground of death that could await them when they depart the bus at school.
“Now I take me off to School.”
“Lord please protect me from some gun-toting fool.”
“If I am shot before I leave, please help my folks learn how to grieve.”
This is not meant to be funny or poke fun at what children have to face at school each day. This is not intended in any way to make light of what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School yesterday – 14/12/2012, just eleven days before Christmas.
What this is intended to do, is to show just how dangerous it is out there for our little ones. We cannot protect them when they aren’t at home, neither can the police or other public services. I think that it’s time for everyone to rethink what is going on in the world and change their way of seeing things.
We need to take control before the madmen do. Let’s keep the lunatics under the control of the asylum and not let them run it.