Skip to comments.(Charlton Heston 1995) My favorite Amendments: First and Second Amendments to the Constitution
Posted on 04/05/2008 9:31:42 PM PDT by doug from upland
My favorite Amendments: appreciation - First and Second Amendments to the Constitution
Charlton Heston THIS may surprise you, but I'm not the only man in Hollywood with an appreciation for the Second Amendment. There are numbers of gun owners -- collectors, hunters, sport shooters -- in the film community, plus many more who keep firearms for protection. I suspect, in fact, that there are more filmmakers who are closet gun enthusiasts than closet homosexuals. Steven Spielberg has one of the finest gun collections in California, but never refers to it, and never shoots publicly. Can you imagine the most famous filmmaker in town worried about his reputation?
Still, many people in the film community oppose firearms, some quite virulently. During the Los Angeles riots in 1992, a good many of these folk suffered a change of heart. As smoke from burning buildings smudged the skyline and the TV news showed looters smashing windows, laughing as they carted off boom boxes and booze, I got a few phone calls from firmly anti-gun friends in clear conflict. 'Umm, Chuck, you have quite a few . . . ah, guns, don't you?'
'Could you lend me one for a day or so? I tried to buy one, but they have this waiting period . . .'
'Yeah, I know. I remember you voted for that. Do you know how to use a shotgun?'
'No, I thought maybe you could teach me. This is getting a little scary.'
'I noticed. It does that sometimes. I could teach you, but not in an hour. You might shoot yourself instead of the bad guys. The Marines are coming up from Pendleton; that'll end it. When it does, go buy yourself a good shotgun and take some lessons.'
My friend writer-director John Milius got more calls than I did. His answer was more forthright: 'Sorry. They're all being used.'
Public opinion on this issue seems to be shifting, in view of rising violence. No police force can guarantee always to protect all citizens, nor are the police legally responsible for failing to do so. Besides, it seems to me ethically questionable to expect a policeman earning $35,000 a year to risk his life to protect you if you accept no responsibility for protecting yourself.
Unlike some people, I support the First Amendment as vigorously as I do the Second. Indeed, the whole Bill of Rights is a wonderfully unique instrument.
Though in recent years the Bill of Rights has often been cited to justify various federal intrusions into individual rights, its original intent and prime purpose was to protect, in every Article, the rights of citizens against the intrusion of their government. There's no other governmental codicil in the world like it. I'm a fan.
Now consider the First Amendment. Two years ago I won my most significant victory in the public sector since the civil-rights marches in the early Sixties -- and then we were following Dr. King. This was just me versus Time Warner, the biggest entertainment conglomerate in the world.
I got a call from Tony Makris, my guru on matters relating to Washington. 'Chuck, you ever hear of a rap performer named Ice-T?'
'No, why would I? I remember some rock critic saying, 'Rap is made by people who can't sing, can't play an instrument, and can't write lyrics. It's vocal graffiti!' I believe I can sign that.'
'I think you ought to hear these lyrics. They've teed off just about every policeman in the country, but Time Warner's stonewalling them because it's a hit record, and the press is tiptoeing around because the guy's black.'
Tony was right. The lyrics (aside from being badly written) were an obscene ode to the killing of policemen. Along with a handful of others, I did a press conference about it, and Warner backed down to the extent of changing the album title from Cop Killer to Body Count, without removing the song. They were also sending out demo CDs in cute little black body bags. (The corporate counterculture at work.) The press was very cautious on the issue. My civil-rights credentials dating back to 1961 protected me from the accusations of racism that would otherwise have been hurled. I was told that Ice-T himself threatened to kill me. He didn't, though.
Then we found that Time Warner had a stockholders' meeting scheduled in Beverly Hills. I happened to hold several hundred shares of Time Warner stock (I've since sold it). This meant I could attend the meeting.
There was the usual gaggle of media outside the auditorium. Inside were perhaps a thousand shareholders. I doubt that any of them had ever heard a rap album, though this material is an enormously profitable cash cow for Time Warner. Of course that was the whole problem. As someone trenchantly observed, 'It's not the money . . . it's the money.'
By this time President Bush, police across the country, members of Congress, and major religious and media figures had condemned Body Count. Ice-T had weighed in with the comment, 'I ain't never killed no cop . . . I felt like it a lot.'
Even at this point, the chairman - CEO of Time Warner, Gerald Levin, could have said -- no doubt with perfect honesty -- 'Look, I don't read rap lyrics. If some clown in the record division screwed up, we can fix it.' Instead, he chose to defend the album in terms of the First Amendment, which was ridiculous. Ice-T, in search of his 15 minutes of fame, certainly could have performed his work publicly -- but Warner had no obligation, constitutional or otherwise, to pay him to do so. Its motivation was not the Bill of Rights, but simple corporate greed.
I had the floor for perhaps only eight or ten minutes, but it was enough. I spoke briefly and quietly to the meeting, then simply read, in full, the lyrics of 'Cop Killer,' which almost no one in the room had heard or seen, they being too offensive for the media to quote. Unhappily, I can't quote them here, since Time Warner would almost surely refuse permission, and my editors are also reluctant to print what is basically racist filth. I'll simply say that the lyrics begin with 'F--- the police . . .' and go on from there.
'Mr. Levin,' I said. 'Jews and homosexuals are also sometimes attacked, though of course not as often as police officers. Let me ask you: If this piece were titled, 'Fag Killer,' or if the lyrics went, 'Die, die, die, kike, die!' would you still peddle it? It's often been said that if Adolf Hitler came back with a dynamite treatment for a film, every studio in town would be after it. Would Warner be among them?'
The room was death-still. I gave them one more dose, a few lines from another cut on the CD, less notorious but even more disgusting. In this 'song,' Ice-T fantasizes about sodomizing two 12-year-old nieces of the next Vice President of the United States.
I left the room in an echoing silence, then repeated much of what I'd said inside to the media. One or two journalists said, 'You know, we can't run that.'
'Yeah, I know,' I said. 'But Warner is selling it.' A week or so later, the company pulled the album, pretending that Ice-T had asked them to. A month after that, they terminated his contract.
I asked the women's organization NOW to join me in condemning the album, in view of the vicious lyrics about sodomizing little girls. It never did. I've never understood why. Perhaps NOW didn't want to attack a black man.
Still, I'm proud of what I did, though now I'll surely never be offered another film by Warner, or get a good review from Time. On the other hand, I doubt I'll get a traffic ticket very soon.
Rest in peace to a REAL star and a champion of the Constitution .
Not many of the GOOD GUYS left anymore.
He will be missed.
He’s still THE MAN.
Don’t mess with him.
It brings tears of joy to my eyes to think that a true American has the hair on his chest to stand up to the scum in our society as Heston did in this instance. God bless him and his family for his gift to all of us. A man of honor like that is a gift from God Almighty.
**This undated file photo originally supplied by American Movie Classics, shows Yvonne De Carlo, third from left, kneeling beside Charlton Heston as he played Moses and she played his wife in 'The Ten Commandments.' Heston, who won the 1959 best actor Oscar as the chariot-racing 'Ben-Hur' and portrayed Moses, Michelangelo, El Cid and other heroic figures in movie epics of the '50s and '60s, has died. He was 84. (AP Photo/American Movie Classics, FILE)
NRA president Charlton Heston holds up a musket as he tells the 5000 plus members attending the 129th Annual Meeting & Exhibit in Charlotte, NC, Saturday, May 20, 2000 that they can have his gun when they pry it 'from my cold dead hands. ' Heston, who won the 1959 best actor Oscar as the chariot-racing 'Ben-Hur' and portrayed Moses, Michelangelo, El Cid and other heroic figures in movie epics of the '50s and '60s, died Saturday April 5, 2008 according to a statement from the actor's family. He was 84. (AP Photo/Ric Feld, FILE)
Indeed. Thanks for the post.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.