Tuesday, July 28, 2009

"Public Enemies"

Saw this movie recently, the first movie I've seen in a theater in years. My brother and I saw it while on a camping trip; we went into the little town of Delaware and found a wonderful old theater in the downtown area there.

The problem which immediately comes to mind about the movie is that in the gunfight scenes it is hard to distinguish between the law enforcement men and the criminal gang. The camera jumps around between one shot and another, and everybody is wearing suits, so it is nigh unto impossible to tell what is supposed to be going on. When I mentioned to my nephew that it was "hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys", he responded, "who were the good guys and who were the bad guys".

This got me to thinking that maybe that was the point, the law enforcement officers had become just like the criminal gang; it was like two gangs were fighting it out for protection of their turf. This is in fact what happened in 1934; all the criminals the FBI was going after were gunned down in cold blood, with none being brought to justice. Pretty Boy Floyd was gunned down in Ohio in October; Baby Face Nelson was gunned down outside Chicago the next month; Bonnie and Clyde were ambushed and killed in Louisiana in May (even though Bonnie was not even a wanted fugitive); and finally, John Dillinger was killed outside a Chicago theater in July, having been betrayed by the infamous woman in red (who according to the film the FBI in turn betrayed by not preventing her extradition as promised).

The point is that in a free, democratic society, the cops have to adhere to proper standards; if they get down in the gutter and become just like the bad guys, then we have sacrificed our values and our freedoms. If President Bush understood this principle, he would not have invaded Iraq and would not have sanctioned torture. If Dick Cheney had understood this, then........well, this list would be endless.

No comments: