Friday, January 14, 2005

I'm threatening your life. No, I mean it. Now go apologize for my behavior.

why is this funny in the first place?

CLINT EASTWOOD has chillingly warned documentary-maker MICHAEL MOORE he'll face certain death if he ever points his camera at him.

Picking up a Special Film-making Achievement prize for MILLION DOLLAR BABY at the NATIONAL BOARD OF REVIEW AWARDS dinner in New York on Tuesday (11JAN05), Eastwood urged the FAHRENHEIT 9/11 director to avoid making him the subject of a future project if he values his life.

However, Eastwood - a staunch supporter of the Republicans - did admit he and Moore have a shared view of how American society should operate.

He said, "Michael Moore and I actually have a lot in common - we both appreciate living in a country where there's free expression.

"But, Michael, if you ever show up at my front door with a camera - I'll kill you."

And when Eastwood noticed the audience had erupted in laughter to his threat, he emphasized, "I mean it."

However, Moore's representatives insist the comments were intended as a joke: "Michael laughed along with everyone else, and took Mr Eastwood's comments in the lighthearted spirit in which they were given."


(Emphasis mine.)Dave Neiwert at Orcinus has written about this phenomenon lately, not specifically the Eastwood thing, but of prominent conservatives threatening or suggesting violence towards liberals. From his January 7th post, "Beyond the Pale":

The hatemongers of the right-wing pundit class are always pushing the envelope, trying to top each other with fresh outrages that continually redefine the boundaries of acceptable public discourse, grossly distorting that discourse along the way.

Although I don't imagine it's legally actionable, part of the problem with this behavior is that it emboldens the scuzzier and less well-balanced elements of the right, legitimizing their darker impulses, giving them a coded sort of permission to see their lust for violence as acceptable. (In the same way, I think, that the very existence of the Guantanamo prison facility and Gonzalez's permission-giving to the president helped embolden the soldiers at Abu Ghraib(and no doubt others in Iraq) to choose their sadistic behavior, even though most servicemen have obviously never been to Guantanamo.)

But why, I find myself wondering, does Michael Moore have to apologize for the fact that Clint Eastwood threatened him? To protect himself from seeming unreasonable and, God help us, "un-cool"? That's probably part of it, but I also think that part of it is the dynamic of, how do I put this: if he doesn't apologize for Eastwood, then Eastwood is left looking foolish, and the crazies would resent Michael Moore for "doing" that to him. As if it was somehow incumbent all along on the lefty being threatened to smooth things over, and because the bloodlust-crazy right projects like crazy and is "owed" an opportunity to be protected from awareness of how imbalanced and crazy and just plain bad they are.

Moore and his reps apparently keyed into this and accepted their role in this messed-up dyad. Or to put it another way-- Moore recognized that he'd probably get death threats if he said,for example, "it's a pity Eastwood has gotten so unbalanced lately," which would've been a perfectly civil response but would've certainly bent the freeper contingent out of shape anyway.

Sometimes I think the only way things are going to change for the better in this country is if we suffer a catastrophic military defeat when Russia, the EU and China get together and decide that we've become far too dangerous and need to be put down like a rabid dog. The trajectory of Bush/PNAC foreign policy, from unilaterally withdrawing from arms-control treaties to the Iraq war to threatening to make more wars certainly suggests this. And no,I'm not saying I'd like this to happen. I'd much more prefer,say, that we build a huge rocket and put all the movement conservatives and dispensationalists and the Bush family on it and send it off to space, perhaps to Mars-- since Bush wants to go there anyway. It would be a really fancy rocket,with tennis courts and a spa,and maybe a roulette wheel for Bill Bennett. And it would have escape-rockets for just some of the passengers, because that would remind the right of a bygone era when there were fewer pesky regulations and things were better, a la the Titanic. Given their desire to hasten the coming of the so-called rapture, maybe persuading them to go on board won't be so hard. No, really, I mean it.