We’ve already had a thread (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?s=&threadid=183647&highlight=bowling+columbine) over accusations that Michael Moore was dishonest in his presentation of the facts in Bowling for Columbine. I don’t want to start that up again. I have a different question: Exactly what point was Moore trying to make?
Based on what I’d heard about the film before I saw it, I was expecting a pro-gun-control message. I thought that was what we were getting when Moore harped on the murder statistics, pointing out that we have roughly a hundred times as many murders each year in the U.S. as they have in Japan, or Canada, or any of the nations of Western Europe. (I don’t remember the exact figures but I remember they were impressive even if you allow for population differences.)
But the movie is not about gun control, apparently. Moore went out of his way to make Heston and the NRA look narrow-minded and insensitive. On the other hand, Moore also spoke, without apparent scorn, of the rifles-and-hunting culture he himself was raised with in Michigan. He did not discuss the merits of any gun-control program, real or proposed, at any time during the film. He also emphasized that Canada is a heavily armed country, with approximately 10 million privately owned firearms for 25 million people. Yet Canada has nothing like our murder rate. His point appears to be that the culture of the U.S. is fundamentally different from those of the other nations discussed. A gun-rights advocate could even use this film to illustrate the principle, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”
But, so far as I can remember from the film, Moore never answers the question he raises: Why is our culture different? Why are Americans so much more violent than other peoples of the industrialized world?