Bowling for Columbine
This film makes one really good point. American culture is marked by fear. Unfortunately Moore could have done a better job of presenting the facts in a more balanced manner. Moore compares the US to Canada and other western industrialized nations. In some of his comparisons he uses statistical evidence that overstates the contrast and in others he used anecdotal evidence provided by individual interviews.
Some of the statements or implications I found frustrating
- Canada has no less poverty than the US because our unemployment rate is higher. While it is true that we have higher unemployment, Canada does not have the kind of urban decay that large US cities have. We have poverty but we also have a stronger social safety net with things like free medical care.
- Homocide stats. Canada has less homocide with guns, but the direct number of people killed stats are misleading because Canada has 1/10 of the population of the US. The homocide stats were only of those killed by guns and didn’t include homocide by other means.
- Knowing people with guns. Moore talked with some Canadians about how many people they knew that owned guns. There may be 7 million guns for 10 million households but I have seen very few guns in my lifetime. The only people I know that have firearms are law enforcement, farmers and hunters. The hunters tend to have a number of guns. Other than the ones police carry, I’ve never seen a handgun.
- Canadian news media covers speedbumps instead of homocides. In Saskatoon we never hear of a crime on the “east side” of the city. The east side is the more affluent and more “white” area of town. Anything that happens on the “west side” is labeled “west side”, and that is where most of the racial minorities live. Our media also gets sucked in to misrepresenting crime by racial minorities.
These corrections aside, I do believe the basic comparison with Canada is true. Canadians are a more accepting tolerant society with a lot less fear. Most of us don’t feel the need to lock our doors until we go to sleep. We are more than willing to help people stranded on roadsides. We don’t think that more people having more guns makes anyone safer.