Part 7 Gutterballs Sixteen And Seventeen

Larry Pratt

Gutterball Number 16: Wrong On The Murder Of Kayla Rolland

This story in Bowling for Columbine (BFC) begins with us hearing 911 calls reporting that the six-year-old little girl had been shot at the Theo J. Buell Elementary School in Flint, Michigan, on February 29, 2000. We see Moore talking to the principal. He refers to the six-year-old boy killer as one who “had found a gun at his uncle’s house because his mother was being evicted.” In solemn, hushed tones, as a piano plays softly in the background, Moore says: “No one knew why the little boy wanted to shoot the little girl.”

But, of course, Moore is, again, lying. There is someone who knows why this murder happened. And that someone is Moore. He tells us that the six-year old murderer’s Mom, to get food stamps and health care for her kids, “was forced to work as part of the state of Michigan’s welfare-to-work program,” a program he refers to “as tossing poor people off of welfare.”

Moore tells us that the boy’s Mom worked at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Grill.

So, Moore goes to California where we see him confronting Dick Clark who’s sitting in a van with some people. Moore tells Clark he wants to ask him about the Kayla Rolland murder, how her Mom worked at his Grill, and what he thinks “about a system that forced poor single mothers to work two low wage jobs to survive?” Clark asks the door of his van to be closed. He drives away.

But, when one knows all the facts about the Kayla Rolland murder — not shown in BFC — it seems that there are better places to start seeking blame than a welfare-to-work program and Dick Clark. For example, Time magazine (3/19/01) reports that the six-year-old murderer of Kayla lived in a “crack house” where, obviously, he had easy access to the .32 semiautomatic gun he took to school and shot Kayla.

Time also says this young killer “was reportedly made to stay after school nearly every day for violent behavior, attacking other children and cursing. His hellish home life… had been the subject of complaints to police, but there was no response. On the day of the shooting, another student reported the boy was carrying a knife.”

The Dayton Daily News (9/17/2000) reports that the six-year-old murderer of Kayla “had been suspended from school three times and had previously stabbed a girl”!

The Deseret News (6/17/2000) says the father and three other relatives of the boy who murdered Kayla were arrested and charged with dealing crack. The boy’s paternal grandmother and two aunts were jailed on Federal charges. His father was already in jail on an unrelated charge.

But, we saw none of these folks in BFC. Why not? Why didn’t Moore confront the boy’s Mom and ask why she left her son in such a hell-hole? Why not ask some of the hell-hole people why a gun was left where a child could get it so easily? Why not ask the cops why they ignored the complaints about the hell-hole where this kid lived? Why not ask the school principal why this violent young boy was allowed to continue attending her school? These are all good questions that make good sense. That’s why none of them were raised in BFC.

Commenting on the murder of Kayla Rolland in an article in the web publication (3/6/02), titled “Is There Anything Left To Say,” Daryl Lindsey gets it right. He observes:

It isn’t about guns, it’s about neglect. The recent wave of horrific youth violence has nothing to do with gun-control laws or mandatory safety locks. It’s about the way we raise our children. [The murderer of Kayla Rolland] was living in a crack house with his uncle after being abandoned by his mother and father (who had been sent to jail). Not a terribly surprising place to find a gun — but where were the parents, the caring family or the concerned neighbors?

Gutterball Number 17: Wrong To Attack Fear-Mongering When His Whole Movie Is Fear-Mongering!

One of the few individuals portrayed favorably and taken seriously in BFC is University of Southern California sociologist Barry Glassner author of the book The Culture Of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid Of The Wrong Things. He is in the film to support one of Moore’s themes that our country is awash in fear. For example, in an interview on National Public Radio’s Weekend All Things Considered (11/2/02), Moore said: “Our compass is off now because we’re being told to be afraid of everything. It’s just non-stop.” On the Oprah Winfrey show (11/1/02), Moore said: “My theory is that we were founded in fear.”

In one part of BFC we see Moore and Glassner walking around in South Central Los Angeles pooh-poohing the idea that there is any real danger to them there from crime. At one point, Glassner says the pollution there is “probably much more dangerous right now” to them than crime.

But, a story in the Daily News Of Los Angeles (11/26/02) says this in its lead paragraph: “Residents of South Central Los Angeles appealed Monday to LAPD Chief William Bratton for more officers or other resources to end the violence that has turned their streets into a battlefield. Twenty people have died in the past week and more have been injured in an escalation of violence — much of it gang-related.” The L. A. Daily News (11/20/02), six days earlier, reported that violent crimes in South Central Los Angeles had risen eight percent in the past year.

The incredible hypocrisy involving this part of the film is that BFC is itself wall-to-wall fear-mongering! In it, Moore wants us to fear almost everything: Guns; gun-owners; America; K-Mart bullets; Lockheed-Martin; Dick Clark; Charlton Heston.

So, what might Barry Glassner, author of The Culture Of Fear, think about Michael Moore’s fear-mongering in BFC? In an interview, when asked this question, Glassner refused to reply and hung up the phone.