As a non-gun-owning libertarian, I have very mixed feelings about the entire gun issue. It was so refreshing to read a balanced article in the INDY ["Double action," Jan. 23] that did not have the usual knee-jerk, radical, bleeding-heart liberal slant. It's one of the rare balanced articles I have read in the INDY in some time.
I can't find much to disagree with David Fellerath's views on the NRA and gun policy, but I think the arsenal out there—310 million guns by 100 million gun owners—is a monumental obstacle, and politicians are motivated by "doing something rather than nothing," which is mostly palliative. Short of banning the concealment and carry of weapons, nothing will prevent another Sandy Hook. I find that men with guns find any threat to remove them a threat to their masculinity, as if they were being castrated by any action restricting them.
I do disagree with Fellerath on his love of hunting and pride in killing a defenseless animal. We are no longer hunter/gatherers forced to kill to eat; there is plenty of food to be had in stores. His "concern over industrial meat production" fails ethically if he thinks killing them with his [.30-06] is somehow justified. (The line by hunters is usually that they are doing the environment a favor by engaging in killing animals, which is simply another rationalization to enjoy the act of the hunt and kill.) There are humane ways of restricting excessive animal populations that don't involve this primitive egocentric barbarism against sentient beings who have as much a right to their lives as we do.
Critics agree that Zero Dark Thirty is an exciting movie. It is apparently so exciting, fast-paced and well-written that critics and audience members alike assume that the events it depicts are historically accurate, including the claim that information obtained under torture led to the locating and killing of Osama bin Laden.
Senators on the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee disagree, as do human rights groups. Zero Dark Thirty may not "glorify" torture, but it does take it out of the Grand Guignol, "The Pit and the Pendulum" tradition. The torture scenes are "expertly done," and no one will confuse the handsome and not sadistic CIA field agent with Vincent Price in The Witch Finder General.
The film is also a departure from the political context in which torture is depicted as the tool of repressive regimes that use fear to keep people in line. The difference between waterboarding in Zero Dark Thirty and A Dry White Season is the difference between "boots on the ground" and a boot in the face.
The film does raise the issue of torture, but only to treat it as one of the methods used to gain information—and an effective one at that—in the larger context of a gripping thriller that "moves with juggernaut speed."
By the time the two-and-a-half-hour epic reaches its cathartic conclusion, no one will be thinking much about the ways in which torture and the acceptance of torture could come back around to bite us collectively when American soldiers are taken prisoner, when jihadists need a recruitment tool, or in the event of another crisis. Ideas have consequences, whether they are presented in a heavy-handed polemic or an exciting movie.
Lynn Mitchell Kohn