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tv   Melissa Harris- Perry  MSNBC  December 22, 2012 7:00am-9:00am PST

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does the focus on mental health take us away from the real debate about guns? plus, "django" the "n" word and what all the fuss is about. move over santa. this year, send your letters to hasbro if you want to change the world. first, following the gun massacre in newtown, the nra finally speaks. you simply had to hear it to believe it. 8 . good morning. i'm joy reid in today for the lovely melissa harris-perry. today, i am almost speechless because yesterday, the leading political force behind pro-gun policy, the national rifle association, broke their silence with a flabbergasting response to the tragedy in newtown. wayne lapierre made his assessment plain. >> the only way to stop a
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monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection. the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. >> in the seven days that have passed since 20 children and seven adults lost their lives in newtown, the country has been immersed in a national dialogue not only to explain this event but to achieve a legislative response that will make our country safer. the nra's contribution? more guns. >> i call on congress today to act immediately to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation. >> given the nra's track record, this is no idle chatter from a grand-standing lobbyist. this is what they do best. for most of the nra's history, the organization acted chiefly as a sporting and hunting
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association. in the first 100 plus years of its existence, the nra stuck to training and marksmanship and while they have had a legislative affairs division since the 1930s, it wasn't until the mid 1970s that the organization made a radical turn into politics. since 1980, 44 states have passed some form of law advocated by the nra that allows gun owners to carry concealed weapons. just in the past four years across 37 states, the nra and its allies have helped to pass 99 laws making guns easier to own, to carry in public, and harder to track. the group has helped pass legal gems like allowing gun owners in kansas to carry concealed weapons in elementary schools, and extending gun permits in nebraska to people who have pled guilty to a violent crime. while it's illegal in most states to drink and drive, in eight states, you can bring your gun to the bar. thanks to the nra, you can now carry a firearm on an amtrak train or to a family trip to a
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national park. not only has the nra been the primary force responsible for blocking gun control legislation, it has also been leading the charge to weaken accountability in the gun manufacturing industry. in 2005 at the urging of the nra, congress passed a law that specifically shields gun manufacturers from lawsuits seeking to hold them accountable for crimes committed by the weapons they produce and sell. perhaps it's not the laws the nra has helped pass that are as much of a concern as the ones they effectively stymied. last year, a legislative proposal was made in connecticut to make it a felony to own high capacity magazines with more than ten bullets. but as part of a campaign organized by the nra and other gun advocates, opponents to the law swapped state legislatures with 30,000 letters and e-mails and showed up enmasse to a committee hearing to oppose the law. gun makers warn that the billion dollar firearms industry would move its jobs elsewhere if the bill passed and in the end, not surprisingly, the proposal died.
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so last friday, in newtown, connecticut, adam lanza used a bushmaster ar-15 rifle with still legal magazines holding not ten, but 30 rounds, to kill those 26 souls at sandy hook elementary. with me at the table today is anthea butler, professor of religious studies at the university of pennsylvania. msnbc contributor ari melber of the nation magazine. joe watkins, republican strategist and former aide to president george h.w. bush and mark glaze, director of mayors against illegal guns. so that was a lot, a lot to deal with, a lot of history of the nra. it's interesting because in the history of the nra it used to be sort of a sporting and hunting organization, training. they actually used to support gun control legislation. let's talk about what changed and mark, i know you are an expert in this. what changed about the nra itself in terms of its advocacy that made it an opponent of gun control? >> well, there -- thanks for asking, first of all. i think it's kind of the
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lingering question underneath gun policy. why doesn't congress, why don't state legislatures do more. the easy answer is a mythology has developed about the ability of the nra to kick elected officials out of office that is almost entirely untrue but is totally devastating to the work we're trying to do. this is a moment when we can draw attention to that. what happened over a period of decades is that there were power struggles within the organization and finally, early in the 1990s, their then high ranking official finally sort of said what a lot of folks in the nra had felt for a long time which is we should not be talking about gun policy issues as matters of protecting the right to go out and hunt or protecting yourself. this ultimately is about the right of free people to hold guns wherever they want because eventually the government might make a list, check it twice and come and take them away. ever since then, you've seen the organization not as the membership level but at the leadership level become more radicalized. after they won the supreme court case identifying a right to own a gun in your home for
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self-defense, the question i think for them was well, what do we do now. do you fold up a $240 million a year organization? does wayne lapierre give up his $1.4 million a year salary? no. they have methodically gone from state legislature to state legislature chipping away at modest restrictions that most nra members support. so he has a huge problem, i think, based on that bizarre press conference, with the membership of the nra which is quite reasonable. >> ari, i want to get your reaction to the press conference the other day but as an attorney, to sort of talk about that turn because it is sort of a unique kind of feature of the idea of the constitution that you have this unique, you know, the individual right to bear arms. because historically, there's been lots of gun legislation. i was reading about sort of even the battle at the ok corral and these other fights in the wyatt earp days when you had to check your gun in at the sheriff's office. that was perfectly reasonable and it was sort of a novel turn in our idea of the constitution in the '80s and '90s that you
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had this individual right to bear arms. >> we've had what can only be described as a radical shift in the way the courts and public understands what was once a collective and fairly measured right to bear arms. you make a great point about the lawful commerce in arms act, which provided this blanket immunity to gun manufacturers, not gun owners, gun manufacturers. that passed by 65 votes in the senate. that was the last big federal push and it was an nra drafted bill. when i worked as an aide in the senate i found them to be very powerful. i disagree partly with your analysis about where their power comes from, although i do think we are in a fundamentally shifting moment. as to your question on the press conference itself, crazy likes crazy. angry likes angry. that was -- i can't use some of the words that came to mind on television when i saw that yesterday. the best thing for people who care about reasonable gun regulations, i always say i grew up in a house with a gun. i am not out to take away everyone's gun.
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but the best thing would be for people to watch that press conference. lapierre came out and said everyone's worried about real guns, you should be worried about fake guns. >> video games. >> right. he showed a video game during the press conference and i hope people, if they can, we have a youtube culture, should get up and watch the whole press conference. if you're watching at home and if you own a gun or you think i don't want anyone taking my gun, fine. watch that press conference and see whether you think that man speaks for you because he was cold, he showed no compassion, he showed no understanding of where we're going as a nation right now. >> funny you should mention that press conference because we do actually have a little more sound from it. we only played one of the bites but let's play one more piece of sound. this is the sound in which wayne lapierre explains, to your point, ari, who's really to blame for all of the violence and carnage in our culture and if we could play that. >> killers, robbers, rapists, gang members who have spread like cancer in every community
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across our nation, through vicious violent video games with names like "bullet storm," "grand theft auto," "mortal combat" and "splatter house." throughout it all, too many in the national media, their corporate owners and their stockholders act as silent enablers, if not complicit co-conspirators. >> so he did everything but blame it on the rain. i got to turn to you, rev. we just had games from the '90s, movies from the '90s, the media. he's blamed everything except the most obvious culprit here which is the availability of these weapons of war on our streets. you are, i hate to isolate you as the one conservative at the table, but how can this be possible that a political philosophy can be built around blaming everything but guns? >> i don't know that people who
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are republicans stand together on what should be done yet. we've just had a tragedy, just a terrible tragedy that took place a little more than a week ago, and i think for everybody, whether you're a democrat or republican, a conservative, moderate or liberal, what you care about is protecting our kids and making sure that something like this never happens again, and that we have a policy that is thoughtful and smart and that protects kids from this kind of sadness ever visiting anybody's school ever again, as long as we have a united states of america. that's what we ought to be about. it's unfortunate that people might advance policy that isn't well thought out or policy that they may think is helpful but that doesn't address the tragedy that just took place. i think for me, it's much bigger than just, you know, i'm a republican so therefore, this is what i believe or i'm a staunch supporter of the nra -- >> does the nra speak for you at this point? given what you heard yesterday from wayne lapierre, do they speak for you?
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>> what he said yesterday doesn't speak personally for me. i'm also a pastor. i also work with a school district. i care about kids, i care about their safety and i want more than anything else to make sure that we have policy, thoughtful policy and it takes time sometimes to think about how we cobble together a policy that will work, that will protect our kids ultimately. >> quickly, i want to get anthea's response. >> i would say quickly, we waited a long time to get some policy but unfortunately, the nra has been working to make different kinds of policy so the first thing that needs to happen is we need to put a stop to this constant lobbying and everything that's been happening with the nra so we can just have more guns. yesterday was ridiculous. basically you had this guy, if he just had brandished a gun while he was talking, that would have been the end. that was the accessory he was missing. but it was there. it was the one thing he could not say. but it was all over the place. how can you blame a 1980s level video game for what just happened? it is just ridiculous. so yeah, i really feel like there's time for a change and to
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talk about not making policy changes right now would be very detrimental. >> we are going to come right back to those points. we just have to take a quick break. when we come back, the one thing wayne lapierre said that had all of us scratching our heads. if you are one of the millions of men who have used androgel 1%, there's big news. presenting androgel 1.62%. both are used to treat men with low testosterone. androgel 1.62% is from the makers of the number one prescribed testosterone replacement therapy. it raises your testosterone levels, and... is concentrated, so you could use less gel.
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this is big news.
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the nra is going to bring all its knowledge, all its dedication and all its resources to develop a model national school shield emergency response program for every single school in america that wants it. >> that was the nra's executive vice president wayne lapierre laying out the organization's plan to put its full weight
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behind a plan to arm the nation's schools. the nra certainly has the resources to put towards such a plan. in 2010, the organization had $227 million in revenue. in the last election cycle, the nra spent more than $18 million backing pro-gun candidates. but with all that money, the group didn't have so much success. six of the seven nra-backed candidates lost their bids for the senate and of 26 house incumbents that failed to be re-elected, 18 were nra favorites. in fact, the sunlight foundation named the nra one of the most ineffective outside spenders in the 2012 election cycle, yet as a single issue organization, they have long been seen as one of the most influential policy advocates. back with my panel. before we even get into that question, the other thing that has changed about the nra is that their membership, while it is growing, i think they have like four million members strong, actual gun ownership in the country is declining and it
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has been declining. we have a graphic that shows the change in gun ownership from the '70s until today. so back in 1973, one in two households were gun-owning households. in 2010, that became one in three. in 1980, one in three individuals, one in three people, had a gun. in 2010, it's one in five. so mark, it's actually, we are not becoming a more gun owning society. it's not spreading. it's actually shrinking in numbers but people who already have guns are buying more of them. it's mobecoming more regional. we are sort of dividing in a lot of ways we divide in the election in terms of gun ownership. how does that impact our ability to make policy when you essentially have two nations, one gun owning and primarily southern and one that is withdrawing from the idea of owning guns? >> it's a serious question and it's a good one to talk about not just on its own merits but also because it explains where the nra is today. in the generation that we, most
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of us, have been alive, exactly what you just said happened, happened, which is that as the population became more urban and less rural, the number of households that have guns somewhere inside have shrunk and as a result, the firearms industry has had to kind of adopt a somewhat different business model and so has the nra which used to, by the way, stay far away from the industry. they were about rights, not about commerce. not really the case anymore. but the new model they have adopted is that as you are looking at a smaller and smaller set of households buying guns, and you're selling a durable good, i have a gun, my dad was a gun dealer, i have guns that my grandfather had, you are forced to sell more and more guns to the same shrinking pot of people and it makes sense for you to make them more and more expensive which usually means military style hardware, in order to build your business model and the business model also has to include whipping up hysteria and fear that the next election is going to bring gun confiscati
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confiscation. that brings a spike in sales. >> what's interesting, too, ari, i really do see this as almost more of a commerce play. ironically, video games like "mortal combat" actually increase interest in guns and kind of helps the industry, too. >> could have cited video games that use weapons because "mortal combat" is unrealistic karate chop blood death. small point but one of the 12 things wrong with the press conference. >> absolutely. i totally see this as the nra is looking out for the industry. they have to sell more product. one more little statistic we might throw in. mother jones did a study where they looked at what kinds of guns, to your point, the semi-automati semi-automatics, so what kind of guns are mass shooters choosing to buy off the shelves? semi-automatic, 68 of the mass shootings have been done with semi-automatic weapons. assault weapons, 35. revolvers, 20. shot guns, 19. the nra which primarily has looked at this as this sort of hunting related organizations, shotguns, they will take your revolver, we understand the
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problem is the automatic and semi-automatic weapons. >> we can't talk about guns without talking about the magazines that go inside the guns. instead of having a glock with six to nine bullets, you have something with 30 bullets, right? you can get an extended magazine and shoot the gun. if you go on the gun range, then that means you can rapid fire repeatedly. how do i know this? i'm from texas, okay? on the one hand, i don't want to take away guns from people who hunt who feel they need a gun for protection but often what ends up happening is everybody wants more guns, like the matrix movie where he says more guns, more guns. you can't hold but one gun at a time. it's not like the movies. you can't shoot them off like yosemite sam. we have to have a conversation about the kind of gun sales we're having, banning assault weapons, then to think about closing down the extended magazines and allowing only a certain number of bullets to be bought at a given time. >> we have more people that want to get in on this. we will get more on the other side of the break. stay right there. up next, the changing attitudes about changing gun laws. do we have the political will to
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principally focused at the federal level but over the past couple years, as we have identified a major opportunity and path to victory at the state level, because there are not a lot of quote unquote, gun control groups at the state level, the return on investment, just a little bit of attention on state legislatures can be pretty high. for example, in michigan, which is basically a republican government top to bottom, which is neither here nor there but also pretty pro-nra government from top to bottom, they actually have a pretty good background check system that extends federal law to require that you get a background check if you're going to buy a hand gun over the internet or from an unlicensed purchaser. the nra went in with a stealth attack as they so often do and almost got rid of that system. so our mayors, police chiefs, domestic violence advocates and a bunch of grassroots supporters, kind of went in there and in a period of three weeks basically turned it around and handed the nra a humiliating defeat. couple weeks later, the governor vetoed a bill that would have
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amazingly allowed guns in day care centers and elementary schools. so the federal government is at a standstill on a lot of things, including guns. we think we will make some progress but one path to victory is stuff like that. >> and just to show you how effective it has been, a couple of remarkable pieces of data. let's look at the states that have the strong gun laws versus the states that have weak gun laws. you can see most of those states with strong gun laws are blue states. a lot of them in the northeast. if you look at the states that have the weakest gun laws, many of those states are in the south. now if we go to a map that superimposes that data, remarkable sort of superimposition of strong versus weak gun laws versus gun deaths, and you can see those states in red, the redder they get means they have the higher levels of gun deaths so a state like louisiana, for instance, where our wonderful host, melissa harris-perry, lives, have the weakest gun laws and highest number of gun deaths. i want to ask you, reverend joe watkins, given that that is a fact, that's the data, do you think that the political will after newtown will be there to
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actually get some of these weak gun law states to see the light? >> i think there will be political will to do something about it. nobody wants to see a tragedy like this happen again. i think everybody, again, regardless of your political party, or inclination, wants to make sure our kids are protected and also, that guns don't end up in the hands of people who might commit these kinds of atrocities. also, you know, i'd like to see the conversation change in the country because right now, we have a conversation that is so combative with people who may not see it the way we see it. what i want to see is a gun policy that works for everybody that protects our young people, protects innocent people, and puts nobody at risk. and i want that to be thoughtful and smart and well done and done in a collaborative way. part of the way you do that is not by if wayne lapierre comes out with a press conference with which many of us may disagree,
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we don't have to call him crazy. what we can say is maybe he's not well informed. maybe he could be better informed. >> it isn't just newtown. go ahead. >> i respectfully disagree to the extent that we are telling stories to america about america, and the gun lobby has very effectively told a story about the frontier, about protection, about protecting our children. i understand where that comes from and that comes from a deep place. >> but this is the 21st century. in the 21st century we have to deal with what's happening now. we have had too many atrocities in the last couple years and the narrative has changed. so we've got to deal with that going forward. we can't be glued to the past or whatever has been in the past. leadership is about saying you know what, how do we take people that don't agree with us and have them work with us to protect our kids. >> that's where i'm going, which is how do we protect our children in this environment based on what we know. i think we have to take the mantle of security from the nra, they have been telling a story about how guns make you safer. i think joy just gave us some
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national data about how depending on how you regulate guns, they may make you much less safe. so as a community, as a community, as a nation and community, we have to think seriously about that and i'm going to just use a prop. you said we shouldn't call mr. lapierre crazy. the "new york post" owned by rupert murdoch has the front page today calling him gun nut. >> mr. rupert who is -- >> this is important, not because any of us want to make him subhuman or really hurt him, but this is coming from a conservative place where many conservatives are standing up saying it is nutty. >> a point that we try to make a lot, you have to make a distinction between nra members and the nra leadership. we have frank luntz do a poll of nra members. he's no shrinking daisy or crazy lefty like some of you. >> some. i think it's a great point.
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i just want to show one quick thing before we go to another break. there was an amazing home page, the huffington post had, because we have been talking about the mass shiiootings, but talking about the individual deaths. this is since newtown. take a look at that. this is how many people have died in gun crimes since then. >> how many people have died, how many people are going to continue to die, how many people could be maimed and put in wheelchairs. when are we going to stop this mess. i want to just say one thing about what you talked about, this history we're in the 21st century. wayne lapierre looked like he was back in the 19th century, okay? that conversation was a conversation that was disingenuous, stupid, and tried to play at the rest of america. we will not be played anymore. >> i think that was an excellent point to end this segment. i want to thank mark glaze. the rest are back for more. up next, my letter to senate designate tim scott, who is poised to make history, but will he make a difference? [ male announcer ] the more you lose, the more you lose,
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we've been talking about last week's tragic shooting in newtown, connecticut, that has consumed us as a nation, and has led to a renewed call for action on gun control. finding common ground on gun policy will be tough, but necessary. so this week's letter is addressed to the man headed to the u.s. senate who will either decide to compromise on gun control laws or stand in the way. dear senate designate tim scott, it's me, joy reid. man, you definitely made some history in the deep south on monday when republican governor nikki haley of south carolina appointed you to fill out two years of retiring senator jim demint's term. you'll be the first black senator from the south since reconstruction, the first african-american republican senator in more than three decades, and only the seventh african-american to serve as a u.s. senator. while your appointment is seen by some as a measure of
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progress, others have called you a mere token. elevated only to show that the gop has gotten the diversity memo it missed this past election. so mr. scott, let's move past whether the discussion is of the historic nature of your appointment and let's talk about you. let's talk about your reaction to the deadly shooting rampage at sandy hook elementary school. >> i think the solutions are not necessarily in new legislation. perhaps the solution starts with us examining the mental condition of the person and the persons in the past that have had the desire to create the atrocities that we've seen recently. we should also look at an opportunity for us to engage this entire culture of moral decay and of violence. >> wow. okay. let me get this straight. no new legislation? you saw nothing about the shooting in connecticut that should lead to new legislation?
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i only ask because i know you are, in fact, a fan of legislation, especially when it comes to guns. you were first elected to congress just two years ago and yet, you've already co-sponsored at least four pieces of legislation on guns. number one, house bill 3814, which would prevent gun dealers from informing law enforcement about individuals making multiple gun purchases. number two, the national right to carry reciprocity act of 2011 which would make it possible for people to carry concealed firearms in almost every state. number three, protecting gun owners in bankruptcy act of 2011 because people filing bankruptcy should be able to exempt $3,000 from their property list for their guns, according to you. and number four, the second amendment enforcement act that, if passed, would take away the ability from washington, d.c. to determine its own gun laws. perhaps it should be no surprise you, the card carrying member of the nra who rode to victory with
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tea party backing, made your position clear when you first ran for congress, saying quote, i stand strongly in support of our second amendment rights. the constitution grants south carolinans the right to defend themselves and their families and i will continue fighting to make sure that right is not weakened in any way. really, congressman, all of this when of the 142 guns used by the perpetrators of the 62 mass murders since 1982 in this country, three-quarters of those guns were obtained legally. all of this when in 2008 and 2009, gun deaths were the leading cause of death among black teens. let's be clear. even though you stand to be the only african-american senator in 2013, this is not about race. you said when you chose not to join the congressional black caucus that your campaign was never about race, and that's fine. you will be the senator representing the great state of south carolina, not the state of african americans. but i do hope that as a senator, you'll prove those who call you
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a token wrong, and that you're not just a new face touting the grand old party line. sincerely, joy. ♪ it's so important to make someone happy ♪ when you give a child a toy, it has to work. ♪ make just one someone happy and when it's a toys for tots child, well, what could be more important? so this year, every hasbro toy donated to toys for tots will be powered by duracell. happy holidays. duracell with duralock. trusted everywhere.
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dozen more killers, a hundred more? how can we possibly even guess how many given our nation's refusal to create an active national data base of the mentally ill. the fact is this. that wouldn't even begin to address the much larger, more lethal criminal class. >> that was the nra's wayne lapierre yesterday drawing an artificial link between mental illness and violence. an unfortunate refrain made in
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the wake of the mass shootings like the one last week in newtown, connecticut. as dr. richard friedman of the cornell physicians wrote this week in the "new york times" all the focus on the small number of people with mental illness who are violent serve to make us feel safer by displacing and limiting the threat of violence to a small well-defined group. but the sad and frightening truth is that the vast majority of homicides are carried out by outwardly normal people in the grip of all too ordinary human aggression to whom we provide nearly unfetterred access to deadly force. is the tendency to blame mental illness simply a distraction, even a deflection, keeping us from engaging in a more substantive gun control debate? still with me, anthea butler, religious studies professor of the university of pennsylvania and republican strategist joe watkins, and joining the panel, dr. varma, board certified psychiatrist and mental health expert, also a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at new york university and dr. jonathan metzel, director of the program
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in medicine, health and society at vanderbilt university in tennessee, where he also teaches psychiatry, and the author of "the protest psychosis." i want to go to you first. i want to get your reaction to this idea of the nra which opposes any sort of gun registration particularly on national level saying they would like to create a data base, national data base of the mentally ill. >> i have two things to say about that. one is that i think it's understandable so it's not just the nra that's making the connection between mass shootings and mental illness. i think in the aftermath of virginia tech and the shootings in arizona, there is an understandable reaction to say how can we understand this, how can we explain this. only a crazy person, because it's so outside the realm of normal. so there is a tradition in our country i think of trying to link these mass shootings to mental illness. now, the problem with it and certainly the problem with the nra's position i think is that first of all, the association is false in that as an aggregate group, people with mental illness as an aggregate group
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are far less likely than the national average to commit gun crimes. if you take all people with mental illness, particularly when you take substance abuse out of the mix, people who are mentally ill are far, far more likely to be the victims of violence rather than the perpetrators of violence. what they're doing is reinforcing a problematic stereotype about the crazed mentally ill lunatic that really is not based in reality. >> in a lot of ways, it's a way to sort of make us feel safer by thinking oh, it's just that small number of people. to your point, it isn't just the nra. i want to play some sound of president barack obama who people on the nra side feared is going to go and confiscate everyone's guns. this is what president obama said on wednesday about this topic. >> we are going to need to work on making access to mental health care at least as easy as access to a gun. >> so while we understand that clearly, we want to address mental health in this country, that is obviously true, we also want to address gun violence, is the linkage problematic for both? is it going to make it more difficult to address mental
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illness if people are thinking of these folks as violent? >> yes, exactly. i think it's just going to promote the stigma that already exists. one of my fears is that to your point, we're talking about 95% of the population that are committing crimes are not mentally ill. we're talking about less than 5% of the contribution. so we think of this 5%, we need to get better care so we need to have access, we need to reduce the stigma. one of the things that we see within the mentally ill population, that lack of awareness or lack of insight promotes violence in this situation or sort of just relapsing into the illness. we also see that people who have not gotten help six months prior, that is another promotion, also substance abuse adds to the mix. so what we need to do in terms of the mentally ill conversation is that reducing barriers, promoting access to care, parity laws need to be looked at. >> jonathan, you have written about how some of this has been racialized, this idea of ascr e
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ascribing mental illness. in the past we have done it with other kinds of crimes, right? >> there are interesting points about that. people are kind of saying with the "new york post" here is wayne lapierre crazy. i don't think he's crazy at all. i think he knew exactly what he was saying. he was talking to a particular base and his conference yesterday was actually full of a series of kind of code words, historical code words that were linked to mental illness and to my mind, racial stigma. so things about deranged killers, hearing voices, gang bangers on the loose, all this kind of stuff. he was speaking to an anxiety about a kind of othering that tied into a mass paranoia, here's why we need guns. there's a history to that kind of rhetoric in this country. in my book, i look at the 1960s, actually, a time when people were very concerned with the issue of gun control, but they weren't concerned because they were individual deranged white shooters on the loose. people were concerned because the black panthers wanted guns and hughie newton wanted guns and other people wanted guns and at that time, our national rhetoric was not it's one person's individual brain so
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what they said is black culture must be crazy and that led to, among other things, the voting rights act of 1968. so there's a real racial difference in terms of how we interpret this gun crimes. >> there was a great piece in the new yorker that talks about how the turn toward gun rights, individual gun rights, did have its roots in the rights movement and the black panthers wanting guns. i want to turn to you, anthea. this idea of saying deranged killers and looking at the mass shooters but not ascribing mental illness to say people in urban environments committing these crimes. >> exactly. it's not mental illness. it's just we're deranged and evil. i made a comment on twitter last week, i said is it just that, you know, people of color are evil when they go and shoot somebody and white guys are just crazy? i didn't mean it in a pejorative way. what i meant to say was listen, people can be mentally ill across the spectrum. people can also be evil across the spectrum. why are we only ascribing certain kinds of words to certain kinds of people. so i really take your point and that's very true. it also is about the fear of not having enough guns if the brown
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people or the black people rise up and come and get you. >> don't people make bad choices? i know a lot of people that are not crazy, not suffering from mental illness, who have made very bad decisions and have hurt people in the process. >> right. we're going to take a quick break. after the break, we will stay on this topic. our fear of the mentally ill and where it comes from. i always wait until the last minute. can i still ship a gift in time for christmas? yeah, sure you can. great. where's your gift? uh... whew. [ male announcer ] break from the holiday stress. ship fedex express by december 22nd for christmas delivery. hi, i'm ensure clear... clear, huh? i'm not juice or fancy water. i've got nine grams of protein. that's three times more than me! [ female announcer ] ensure clear. nine grams protein. zero fat. in blueberry/pomegranate and peach.
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let's be clear. all of the focus on the mentally ill after the shooting in newtown, connecticut does have a place. caring for our mentally ill should be a priority, but that's not because those afflicted with mental illness are an outsized threat to us. rather, because people with mental illness are 11 times more likely to be the victims of violent crimes than the general population. in fact, a study by the american journal of psychiatry found that only about 4% of violent crimes
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are committed by people with mental illness so where does the stigma against the mentally ill come from in the first place? i want to go to sadipta on this. the idea of mental illness can range from clinical depression to schizophrenia, anything in between, but people are now wondering how do we know when somebody goes from mentally ill to dangerously violently ill? >> yes. yes. violence is always difficult to predict within the mentally ill population but we do know there are certain things that can elevate that risk. for example, being of a younger age, closer to the first break, you're not already involved in mental health care. there has been for somebody who might already have a diagnosis six months has lapsed and they have not been in treatment. substance abuse is a big part of it. also lack of weawareness or insight into the illness. you see that where frontal lobes are affected. there is this lack of awareness. i also want to say in terms of
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what are our commitment laws and how hard is it for doctors to hospitalize patients, are there available resources when they need help and talking about areas of confidentiality and barriers to that. a law in florida was recently reversed about physicians not being able to ask about gun safety in the home. that makes it very challenging. as a psychiatrist we're allowed to ask about it in terms of suicidality and homicidality but physicians are looking at the fact that 1 in 25 pediatric cases are coming in in terms of trauma cases, that's part of the hat we wear about safety in the homes, so we have to be able to do our jobs. >> jonathan, we are talking about not being able to draw a direct parallel, we don't know when somebody who is mentally ill is going to be violent but we are seeing sort of a pattern in these mass shootings. if you take out the d.c. sniper case, you are seeing these are young white men, in some cases they have diagnosed mental illness, in some cases we don't know. but is there something we should be looking for in the demographics? >> well, absolutely.
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i think everyone all around the table about this conversation would agree there is nothing sane about the acts that have happened but i'm very torn about this issue, because i think that again, as i was saying before, they tie into very profound stigmatizations. as i was mentioning before, there are issues that are predictive of violence that we know about. they are not mental illness. it's past history of violence, substance abuse, alcohol abuse at the time. those are far, far more predictive of gun violence than mental illness. >> or being in the drug business. that's one area where you will find a lot of gun violence and if you look at some cities, some urban areas where there are large numbers of gun deaths, it's not because of mental illness. it's because of the drug trade, the drug business, of course, and crime. >> isn't there a part of it that people who are witnessing and dealing with those environments and who are living through these shootings, then there is an issue with mental illness. a kid growing up in that environment -- >> it's traumatic.
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it's traumatic. it's a tough thing for any kid. there was a time at our church where on new year's eve, when we had our new year's eve celebration, as soon as the clock turned 12:00, we knew it was 12:00 because we could hear the gunfire outside our church. that hasn't happened in recent years. but that's a frightening thing to know that on new year's eve, you might get hit by a stray bullet. >> and it happens. it happens. but i also think, you know, in thinking about our administrative assistant we had whose son was shot and killed on easter sunday. he came out on the porch to talk to another kid, shot him in front of his father. it was the most awful thing, i had never been this close to somebody who had had a child that had been shot and this was random violence in philadelphia. it was ridiculous, it was wrong, but kids also get desense tiesed and that's a form of mental illness, too. the depression and despair in some of the communities makes this happen. we have to deal with that as much as we would deal the psychosis and anything else. >> i wish we had more time to talk about this.
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i think there is a part of this that is -- the people who live through these crimes, what are they going to have to deal with in terms of their own sort of mental state? i want to thank my guests. joe and anthea are sticking around. still to come, my interview wi with jamie foff. try running four.ning a restaurant is hard, fortunately we've got ink. it gives us 5x the rewards on our internet, phone charges and cable, plus at office supply stores. rewards we put right back into our business. this is the only thing we've ever wanted to do and ink helps us do it. make your mark with ink from chase.
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he was in the firehouse next door to the sandy hook elementary where he was tasked with delivering the news to parents that their children would not be coming home from school that day. god was inescapable at sunday's vigil with an interfaith service invoked the god of many religions. leaders of the protestant, catholic, jewish, muslim and baha'i faiths offered prayers for the victims. there was no ignoring god right there on stage with president obama as he spoke at the vigil, delivering a speech that at times felt more like a sermon. >> for we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from god. an eternal house in heaven not built by human hands. let the little children come to me, jesus said, and do not hinder them for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven. may god bless and keep those we've lost in his heavenly place.
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>> it's not the first benediction from the president in the wake of a mass shooting. only this time, the profound sadness of the day happened at a time of year usually marked by happiness and celebration. the immeasurable loss in newtown was compounded by the image of gifts already bought, wrapped and tagged with the names of children who won't be there to open them on christmas morning. yet even as it seems that we're seeing god everywhere after what unfolded on friday at sandy hook elementary, the 28 lives lost on that day are compelling many to question whether god was there at all. when asked to consider this, former arkansas governor mike huckabee had this to say. >> we ask why there's violence in our schools, but we syst systemic systemically removed god from our schools. should we be so surprised schools would become a place of carnage? maybe we should let him in on the front end and we wouldn't have to call on him to show up when it's all said and done at the back end. >> while so far huckabee seems
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to be a rare voice bringing god into the politics of guns, there are also those who are bringing the politics to god. religious groups motivated by the moral imperative to protect the defenseless have long been vocal proponents of gun regulation. as far back as the gun control act of 1968. since the shooting, at least three national faith-based organizations have called on congress and president obama to act on gun control. at sunday's sermon at the washington national cathedral, the very reverend gary hall urged faith communities to put the power of the pulpit behind gun policy, saying quote, i believe the gun lobby is no match for the cross lobby. whether the nra has met its match in g-o-d remains to be seen but it does beg the question of whether, as we attempt to understand and respond to the newtown tragedy, how do people of faith process the unthinkable? here with me, anthea butler, professor of religious studies, joe watkins, pastor of christ
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evangelical lutheran church in philadelphia, serene jones, president of union theological seminary and chris jenkins, the author of "how an atheist found common ground with the religious." you know, i want to go to reverend joe watkins first because i think this is the question that most commonly gets asked by people of faith after a tragedy like this. where was god? how do you answer that when your parishioners come to you and ask where was god. >> god lets the rain fall on everybody, on good people and people who aren't so good, and he loves us all. sometimes it may feel like we -- it may be hard for us to feel his love but i liken it to when i go up in an airplane, on a rainy day when you fly off somewhere and the clouds are looming, and it's raining, as soon as you get above those clouds, the sun is doing what it does every single day which is
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shining, and i know that god is there always, and god loves us all. he doesn't love everything that we do. he doesn't sign off on every behavior that we have. but he loves us all. he loves us so much. and i believe and what i preach is that god wants us to love him back, and to be obedient, to listen to him and to live in a way that pleases him. >> i think people of faith understand that but i do think, i just want to go quickly to anthea on this because you teach the theology behind how we approach life. what does the theology say about how you're supposed to process bad things happening and a good and loving god? >> i wrote a piece about this called "guns and babies." one of the things i said in there, i took on huckabee and some of these other people, i said basically god is present. god is present. if you believe that, as a christian at least, that's where i'm going to speak from this when i teach, you know, god is omnipresent. if you really believe that
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theology, how can you take god out of something? you can't take god out of anything. so this is the problem when people say these kinds of platitudes to make up excuses for evil things that have happened. what's stunning to me is that nobody would say this is evil, this is the devil. we haven't heard that word once by any of these bigger religious leaders and that's why someone like the monsignor to me is much more important because he's a person that's closest to the people in newtown. he's the one that's got to bury these kids. i'm much more interested in what he thinks theologically and how he can comfort those who need to be comforted during this time period. i'll just say this. it's great that chris is here because i said in my piece, i was just like i need some atheist to talk about here the god people are making me upset because they just don't know how to say the appropriate things. sometimes you don't have to say anything. sometimes you need to just weep with those who weep. >> let's let the atheist have his say, because this is another question i have personally always been curious about, is
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people of faith have faith to fall back on when something bad happens, they can sort of retreat into their faith. what do people who do not believe in god, where do you get your comfort? where does the comfort come from? >> i think one of the things that nonbelievers do in times of tragedy is they turn to their communities, much like religious people do as well. i work for the humanist community at harvard. a big part of what i do is help build the community of nonreligious folks in harvard but also in the community surrounding harvard, and one of the main things that i do is part of my job is i'm available for people when they're going through a time of personal crisis or they're working, you know, through some kind of tragedy and they need someone to speak with. and much like religious communities serve a huge function in not only helping to support the life of the community when something like -- as unthinkable as what happened in newtown happens, but they also are there to provide that kind of support for people, and that's what we do in our nonreligious community as well. there was a book that came out
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in 2010 called "american grace" by robert putnam and david campbell. it was an extensive study of the lives of religious americans. what they found is that religious americans are much more civically engaged that the nonreligious. they participate in volunteer efforts more, they give more to charity, but the reason why they are more civically engaged is because they have this kind of community structure. so we believe that nonreligious people can benefit from this same kind of structure and sure enough, there are nonreligious organizations who have been helping out in newtown, who have been raising money, who have been supporting the families and i think that the time has come now that one in five americans identifies as religiously unaffiliated and one in three under the age of 30, the time has come for nonreligious communities to be providing those same kinds of things. >> serene, i think the important point of what jonathan just said, the demographics. younger people are starting to move away. do you see just as a broader look, when you have these tragedies happening repeatedly, happening over and over that shock the conscience, is there a
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movement or do you anticipate that there will be more of a questioning of god? >> actually, i see in events like this many people for good or for ill, when you're overwhelmed by an act of violence that shatters your ability to make sense of the world, the compulsion to suddenly be 2 years old again and wrestling inside yourself with questions you had about god or whatever your parents told you when you were 2 comes pouring to the surface. so it can make people both more religious and it can also raise questions that push the boundaries of what is religious. but i think for communities concerned to be present and heal in these context at a very local level, i couldn't agree more with the importance of the on the ground. it really is, and this is not a distinctly religious ability, to be able to listen to people, to not be afraid. the part of the challenge is when you're dealing with this level of trauma is what you hear is awful stuff.
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people wailing. you can hear the violence inside of people come to the surface when they're shattered. >> i just recall listening when president obama was giving his sermon, i guess you could call it, in newtown, just hearing people as he was reading the names crying out in the background. it was heartwrenching because you could actually hear people sort of emoting, with the president there speaking, and he was there to be the comforter and the pastor. that event was so shocking but it isn't the first time we've dealt with this. you can go back to the four little girls killed in a birmingham church, inside of a church. you can talk about the sikh temple where you are having evil invade our religious space. i do wonder whether people of faith will start to be shaken by that and wonder if evil can come in here, in a school, in a church, then where can't it go. >> it can show up anywhere. the mandate at least for christian people is to love everybody as jesus forgave the people who crucified him on the cross. martin luther king's mother,
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some people may recall, was killed inside the church, inside the church that her husband pastored during a service by somebody who was not well, and so these things happen to people and they are sad, they're awful, but through it all, it's meant to grow our faith, to grow us as human beings, and to grow our love for other folks. >> i think one of the challenges, though, when this happens, is that when violence is done to you and psychologists can attest to this as well as faith people, the compulsion to repeat that violence is so strong. so even inside communities where violence happens, we can't assume that that's going to be a peaceful response. >> i'm going to -- >> hold it right here. we will have more over the break. stay right there. the bell that rang yesterday wasn't just to memorialize those lost. it was a call to action. we will talk about that next. copd makes it hard to breathe,
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[ bell tolling ] that was a moment from yesterday's multi-faith remembrance in front of the washington national cathedral for victims of the newtown tragedy. the cathedral bell tolled 28 times, once for each of those killed inside the school as well as for the shooter and his mother. in the wake of the shooting, religious leaders are urging their followers to back up prayer with support for gun control policies. i want to come back to my panel and i wanted to go to serene first to ask whether or not on either side of this debate, it is appropriate to bring the issue of god and religion into the question of gun control. >> there is absolutely no topic that is not appropriate to bring
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god into, because god is in all things as love at all times. absolutely, you see all the major denominations in the country right now are weighing in very strongly in favor of a renewed discussion of gun control and just yesterday, the national association of evangelicals came to the table and said we need to talk about this in a fresh new way, we're willing to talk about gun control. now, in that same context, you have someone like richard land from the southern baptists again coming back and saying that we are supporting the notion of arming our schools? and then you have mike huckabee, even the nra using god language to argue for the other side. when i see that happening in this country, i look at mike huckabee, i look at the nra, i think about richard land and i think what is it inside of you and this is a pastoral issue that makes this kind of violent response seem like it's normal.
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it's part of the problem. >> to me as a pastor, i think the most important thing at a time like this is to comfort people. people are hurting. we just had a horrible, just a terrible event take place and these people are hurting, they've lost their kids, lost their loved ones. some of the teachers that passed away. i mean, the role of anybody, certainly in the ministry, is to comfort. you want to comfort these families right now in this time. >> one of the other things religious leaders, mike huckabee and others are doing, chris, you made this great point in the break i wanted to bring into the show. the other thing they're doing is blaming a lack of god, blaming godlessness, sort of putting this in the laps of the irreligious. what is your response to that? >> maybe i'm naive but it has really surprised me how much in the wake of tragedies such as this, people point the finger at atheists or the nonreligious. with the shooting in newtown, there was huckabee, james dobson, newt gingrich came out and made similar comments, and you know, this is not a new
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phenomenon. after the horrible shooting in wisconsin, we had pat robertson come out and say that the shooter was probably someone who was angry at god, who hated religion, and that people of -- >> there's no evidence of that. >> -- needed to come together against these evil atheist forces, essentially. it was really wonderful there was this inter-faith service after the shooting but i think it was a missed opportunity for there to also be a nonreligious or atheist perspective represented there, because when something like this happens, people are looking for someone to blame, they're looking for, you know, a group of people to outgroup or to demonize and it surprises me how often it's atheists. i guess if you look at any number of studies that show that atheists are a widely mistrusted or, you know, disliked group in the united states, it's not surprising then that atheists get blamed. but i think when groups come together to show, you know, to build a coalition and show solidarity after a tragedy like this, it's important that they think to include atheists and
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the nonreligious as well, because we're just like everyone else. we mourn when something like this happens and we're a community of people who, you know, who see this for the horrible thing that it is as well. >> of course, there's no evidence, we don't missouknow t religious affiliation of people who do this. i want to come to you, anthea. while it is important to broaden this out and not make this about what christians think about everything, you know, this shooting has really focused our attention on the issue of violence. for african americanses who have experienced violence and lived in communities where violence is being perpetrated by them and against them, religion is often invoked as a way to cope with it, a way to explain it. can something about the african-american experience, including the religious experience, help to inform the country broadly about how to respond to this? >> i think so because we have endured lots of different kinds of violence. we had the violence of slavery, of lynching, of the civil rights movement, of guns and drugs being brought into the community. so i think one of the things that our community can offer is a sense of solidarity first of
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all and second, community. i think community is very important. part of what's going on with this whole gun thing, it's about individual rights. we have forgotten about what community means. so when the african-american community comes together, whether in church or the community center or something like that, and we say we're going to stand against the violence, we're going to stand and march in our communities, we're going to talk about this, we're going to bring kids in and try to give events for them and all that, it is a holistic kind of way to think about how to deal with violence. i want to just say one more thing. i think this is a really important point. what people don't understand about religious people who like their guns is that guns, god and the constitution for them go all together. they are wrapped into this sort of sacred way of thinking about the nation, thinking about god, thinking about what their guns do. so for the mike huckabees and david brody's and newt gingriches of the world, guns and god go together. they don't know how to separate. all they can think about is if we don't have our culture perfectly perfect, then god can't help us. that's just bad theology.
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>> what's sort of ironic about it, too, even the nra or go back to the founding, the 19th and 18th century, the prevailing concept was that someone with a private weapon is a bandit. this idea of marrying freedom and religion to guns is really actually kind of a modern concept. i want to ask serene one more question and that is whether or not you think that this will be successful. now that we focused people's minds, religious, irreligious, on the issues of guns, morality, all of that together, can policy be made and will religious people be a big part of making that happen? >> yes, i think it can be successful in large part. i think in the immediate we can dramatically improve the laws that we have around guns. now, churches have to deal with the long term issue is we could make guns illegal tomorrow and we still have all the guns that are out there, many of them in religious communities, homes, and the church is going to play an important role in that. i think that even bigger question is what do we do about the level of acceptable violence in our society and that is a
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deeply theological issue. why do we think violence is normal? why do we support it? churches are going to have to keep pushing at that question on and on and on. did jesus ever say anything about guns? no. >> absolutely. i really want to thank you. i want to thank serene jones, chris stedman. reverend watkins. after the break, we are completely switching gears. up next, my interview with kerry washington and jamie foxx. stars of the controversial new film, "django unchained." [ male announcer ] playing in the nfl is tough. ♪ doing it with a cold, just not going to happen. vicks dayquil -- powerful non-drowsy 6-symptom cold & flu relief. ♪ no matter what city you're playing tomorrow. [ coughs ] [ male announcer ] you can't let a cold keep you up tonight.
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narrative of "roots" on its head. i had the opportunity recently to sit down with two of the movie's stars, jamie foxx and kerry washington and i asked them whether the revenge aspect of the movie was what attracted them to the project. >> it's kind of like the hip-hop generation's "roots" because it's a remix. we don't talk about it as a revenge movie. we talk about it as a love story. this isn't about getting anybody back. this is about django needing to find his wife. it's two people who love each other a lot who can't be together but this time the reason they can't be together is because it was illegal for black people to fall in love and be married, because that kind of commitment would get in the way of selling human beings. >> jamie, do you think that america is ready for this sort of slave as action hero and did you feel like the revenge aspect of it was a part of sort of, you know, the arc of this character? >> revenge would be go kill every white person that had
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nothing to do with your cause, which i think it was a thing we really talked about, and we talked about this openly, because people think, and i have experienced this just here lately, people think that for some reason, black folk want to kill all the white folk. and that's not it. i know you know this because obviously you come from a black family. i've never thought for whatever happened to me in the south and being called [ bleep ], i never thought i want to get the people back. all i wanted to be was left alone and do my thing. if somebody came on my radar, i would deal with that. that was the thing with "django" we hawanted to make sure yeah, is satisfying when he takes the life of this overseer, but that was righting that wrong of this overseer who was standing with a bible in his hand and bible passages because he knew we couldn't read and he preached from the bible and said this is why you're who you are.
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>> you guys both talked about talking to tarentino and coming at this script and talking about your family members going wait. the thing i think a lot of black people in the theater will wince at is the "n" word. hearing it so much. >> you're supposed to. you're supposed to. the film is not -- we didn't want to romanticize slavery. part of what was attractive about the project is we really never dealt with the brutality of what slavery was. whatever you see in this film, as horrible as it may be to hear or horrible as it may be to see, it doesn't come close to how bad it really was. if you got in a time machine and went to the pre-civil war south, you would hear the "n" word a lot more than you would hear it in the movie. >> you could go to the south right now, get what you need right now if you want to get the "n" word told to your face. when you say the "n" word it's supposed to not feel good. >> that's right. >> when you see how they use it, that's the way it was back then. if quentin tarentino or any director had done a movie about
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slavery and didn't put it like that, there was no need to do it in 2012, 2013, because you ain't really giving it the real thing. i understand also, too, because when i was doing this movie and quentin pulled me to the side, said i got to talk to you. i said what's up. you got to be a slave. i said hm? when he said it, i was like huh? i looked at my range rover key -- >> you're jamie foxx. >> he said in order to make this movie happen, you got to go back there which is tough for me to act like i can't read, for me to act like -- for me to be in chains and all that, and she made a statement, we're just acting. but they actually went through it. i look at it like this. when i raised the thing and said django get to get it -- >> he wins? >> he gets to run off, come on, man. when we look back on this movie, as hot button as some of this is right now, but 10, 20 years from
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now, you will be very happy it went like that. >> well, jamie, the controversy over the film may die down in 20 years but it's on fire right now. when we come back, i will discuss it with my panel. i thought i'd start the video by showing you the apartment building where the fire was. when things like this happen, i think you find a new perspective on life. red cross put us in a hotel so we were able to stay together. we're strong and if we overcame that or if we can overcome that... we can overcome anything. [ sniffles ] ♪
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it's time for swanson flavor boost. concentrated broth in easy to use packets. mix it into skillet dishes, for an instant dose of... hell-o! [ female announcer ] get recipes at i will call the man who had me kill another man in front of his son and he didn't bat an eye. you remember that? >> of course i remember. >> what you said was that this is my world and in my world, you got to get dirty. so that's what i'm doing. i'm getting dirty. >> that was a scene from "django unchained" which opens on christmas day. let me repeat, the movie hasn't opened so no spoilers here. but that hasn't stopped it from already causing controversy among critics. the question isn't whether america is ready for a film about slavery. it's whether or not this revenge
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style presentation trivializes slavery all together. at the table, anthea butler rejoining me, msnbc contributor ari melber who recently wrote about the amorality of "django unchained." wl we will ask him about that. michael skolnick and host of msnbc's "the cycle," toure. i knew this would be a hot one. >> just let it flow, joy. >> but since ari wrote that this film was amoral, what do you mean? without any spoilers, keeping in mind people who haven't seen the film, what do you mean? >> you can keep your television on and still see this movie. what i will say without revealing the end, it is one thing to reflect evil and reflect a tragedy and another to luxuriate in it. my problem with this film, having gone in with an open mind and liking some of quentin tarentino's previous work, he
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takes the evil of slavery which we will never be done talking about because it is part of our history and part of our present and part of our future, and he uses it as a license to go on a mass murder killing spree, to as i said, luxuriate in elements of racism that for me, didn't feel historical, ethical or judicious but felt rather slavish. people will come to this movie, people should see this movie and i hope it sparks a really good cultural conversation but at the end of the day, i don't think you can go into this place as an artist and not take it more seriously. >> joy, if i did not sit in the theater next to ari as we watched it, we were at the screening together, he did not actually watch the movie. this is a movie about love. two forms of love. it's about romantic love, he is searching for his wife and is willing to go through hell to rescue his wife from the worst thing. he's willing to become the worst thing imaginable, a black slaver, in order to rescue her.
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that is a very romantic and beautiful story. the violence is just to get through that. we have to go through hell to rescue her. but then it's about self-love, right. in the opening scene, he throws off the rug that he's wearing, like james brown throwing off his cape, and he is attacking white supremacy throughout the film, and he's this constant refrain of he's riding into town on this horse, shoulders back, head high, these glasses on. nobody has ever seen any person of blackness with this level of dignity and they're all shocked by this. one of the key moments of the film, leonardo dicaprio says there's more of them than us, why don't they just kill us. and he goes into this phrenology explanation. he's right, our brains are not any different but the minds are different. we talked about the colonized mind on this show and "django," fox's attack on that mind throughout the piece is cathartic, it is heroic and the killings that he does in this
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film of people who represent slavery are heroic and if he wasn't killing slave masters and samuel l. jackson, who represents slavery, then he would be psychotic. >> hold on, hold on, hold on. >> stop, stop. we need to mediate between two things. i don't think it's romantic. i want to tell you why i don't think it's romantic. because real life slavery wasn't romantic. when i teach this, my students are just dead because i drag them through slavery to lynchings to all this stuff and they're beat up by the time we get to 1920s. i tell them you need to see this much, you need to understand this violence. we read real narratives, of the wpa and everything else. one of the things i brought up when we were talking about this show beforehand is that this whole thing is just violent nonstop. but the way that the violence happens is it's towards black people and black people being able to try to rise up above this stuff. this movie which i haven't seen, i have to say this up front, is doing something very different.
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so i don't think it's just immoral. i think there's some kind of weaving between the tarentino does to try to hold this movie together. >> slavery obviously was gruesome. this movie is violent and perhaps some people would say appropriately violent for what it's discussing. michael, from your perspective -- >> i have never been a fan of tarentino for his violence. when i watch this, i think the challenge is the violence against black people is what's brutal. that's the brutality. the violence against black people, the burning of the flesh, the torture, the -- >> this stuff happened, though. this is the point. >> that's in the film. >> we haven't seen this in this capacity and then the response, the revenge killing, that is heroic. that's triumphant. the problem americans have with this, or will have with this film, django's triumph is our triumph over slavery but we haven't reconciled, we talk about it but we haven't reconciled slavery. >> people don't want to talk about it. >> what we haven't reconciled is
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the catharsis. when you read the history of slavery, you wonder why didn't african-americans just rise up, why wasn't there more violence against slave owners when oftentimes blacks were in the majority. ari, are you reacting against the idea this is just an emotional catharsis film where black people with go to the theater and watch slaves killed by people? is that what you're finding objectionable or is it something about the violence being cartoonish? >> we're on television so how much should i say about my feelings about killing white people? even jamie foxx got in trouble for that. this is my problem with it. not the catharsis, not the reckoning, but the lack of as i put it, morality in the reckoning. there was a big difference with "inglorious bastards" that had a similar revenge fantasy for jews and nazis and it started out in this pursuit ever nazis. what we saw by the end of the film, was one of the characters was not actually evil.
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tarantino was exploring not antisemitism emanating from this person's heart or the banality or plasticity of evil. what we saw here was the notion that everyone was terribly evil so that means you can go on a mass murder spree and again, without spoilers, i think people who see this movie will see that it's not only the evil slave masters who die. there are other people who die and so in the end, as i -- >> they are part of the infrastructure of slavery. as jamie foxx said he doesn't go on a killing spree of any white person he encounters. he goes on a killing spree of people who are part of the infrastructure -- >> yes. >> there was one moment where he has a moment of clarity, should he kill one person or not. won't give it away. >> without giving it away. >> without giving it away, my response to that is there's a legal principle of self-protection and he by the end sacrifices that and i don't think tarantino works well -- >> hold on. one second. hold on. we will let two words, then --
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>> matt turner. this is what you need to think about. when you say this hasn't happened before, there are all kinds of slave rebellions. they just got squelched. this will be interesting to me when i see this film, to think about happened with turner, i'm wondering if this is the styron sort of way of doing "django unchained." >> hold on, hold on. we got to go. on the other hand, we got to talk about -- i don't think anybody brought up the "n" word. we are also going to talk about kerry washington. kerry washington defended herself from critics who take issue with her turn as a damsel in distress. we will talk about that with this panel on the other side. ed, when i'm out with my kids, my daughter's like, "mom, wait up!" and i'm thinking, "shouldn't you have more energy than me? you're, like, eight!" [ male announcer ] for every 2 pounds you lose through diet and exercise alli can help you lose one more by blocking some of the fat you eat.
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we talked about sort of the film and whether or not the film had a morality problem. it also has an inward problem, inward issue, you could say. people are going to go in this film and hear the "n" word a lot even for a quentin tarantino film. >> 110 times. >> knowing tarantino's work, he does use that word a lot. toure, do you think it's defensible this time for him to have that word in there so much? >> absolutely. i want to undercut the discussion but this is the most simplistic and base discussion we could have about this movie. we're in 1853, 1854 -- >> it was a prevalent term used against black people at the time. >> to not use it in this movie would be sort of ahistorical. it would be strange. it doesn't feel out of place as it does in some of the other movies where he uses it to say this thug is amoral or has lack of character or this black person has this sort of super cool thing or the thing he talked about yesterday with jimmy in "pulp fiction" as a separate usage.
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but there's three ways tarantino uses it. the white person who is amoral, the black person who is super cool and jimmy in "pulp fiction." i'm more interested in looking at and more taken by all the various tortures of slavery we get throughout the piece and he is showing you all sorts of head pieces and the hot box. i don't think we have seen this sort of thing since "roots." >> that happened. >> i also think black people were cattle. that's what white people called their stock. i would argue that the "n" word was used much more in 1858 than it was used in this movie and i think that's tarantino's point. he wanted to go there. we as america have to go there because we haven't gone there. other countries have dealt with the atrocities of their past. we have not dealt with that atrocity. if you look at what happened in newtown, we talk about the culture of violence, maybe it's not video games, maybe it's america's history of culture of violence. >> was it so gratuitous and
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cartoonish that he undercut the point of making these points toure and michael were talking about? >> yes. we should not excise the "n" word or racism from our history but there is a wrong way to do it. it's not historically accurate, nor does it need to be, nor does it claim to be. what we see is an importing of the modern use of the "n" word in a very pejorative sense to a period of time when most scholars say it was not used in that way. 110 times is a lot of times. people will have to go to the theater and decide for themselves whether he was doing it intelligently and ultimately, with a commitment to equality and transcendence, or whether he was doing something else. yes, the record here -- [ speaking simultaneously ] >> there's another element to the film that people are criticizing as well. that's kerry washington's role. >> wait. i didn't know women had speaking roles in this tarantino movie. >> really. really. really.
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>> let's play what kerry washington -- >> i told you, toure. >> let me be the ref. >> you don't usually see -- >> hold on. let's listen to washington defend herself. >> for black women, it's different for us. i've had women say to me it's not very feminist. i say you know what, this is a modern feminist story in a way for black women because we have never been afforded the fantasy of being saved. that's not a part of our history. families were broken up. the dividing of the black family was a tool of slavery. it was how they kept us in chains was by breaking us down and making us believe that our men couldn't save us, wouldn't save us, weren't there for us. >> there was a great debate over where i'm going next but i'm going. i thought it was interesting, modern feminist story, i thought this is -- i would have been the character riding out to go save my man.
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>> see, that's -- >> that's the thing she's trying to get at. right. right. right. i think what she's trying to say, she didn't say it in the way i would have articulated it, is that this is a story where a black woman can finally, you know, know she has the love of her man because he has done so much to get to her. >> heroic black man. >> you know, i take your critique of kerry's use of modern feminist, fine, absolutely. i'm never going to argue with you on that point. but what happens to this film is that a black woman is rescued by her man who is willing to risk his life, risk his freedom, for her. how often do you see that? there are many portrayals of strong black women who hold up the family in film, some portrayals of that. hollywood does not do a good enough job with black women so i don't want to make that mistake but she is rescued. isn't that a beautiful fantasy to be able to live through for two hours and 45 minutes? >> okay. hold on just one second. we'll have more in just a moment. first, time for a preview of "weekends with alex witt."
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>> thanks for sticking me in there. coming up on our show, we will examine the nra's proposal of armed guards at schools. i will talk to a colorado congresswoman about why an armed guard did not help at columbine. in office politics, pulitzer prize winner john meacham's take on the right to bear arms and why it's different today than when originally written in the constitution. will they or won't they? we will get several takes on whether congress and the white house will avoid the fiscal cliff. there are widely differing opinions on that. controversy swirls around the new film "zero dark thirty dotthirty ." i will talk to a writer following that story. back to you, joy-ann. >> i like the ann. it works for me. thank you very much. up next, one letter to a particular toy maker is making a christmas time that's extra special for a 13-year-old girl and her little brother. talk about a turn. [ woman ] ring. ring. progresso.
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this is the season when children are writing letters to santa. 13-year-old mckenna pope wrote a letter of a different kind. mckenna knew what her 4-year-old brother wanted for christmas. the pine-sized -- pint-sized enthusiast wanted an easy bake oven for her brother. she was excited to go christmas shopping with her parents. she was disappointed to find out that the only easy bake ovens for sale were purple with pink act accepts. those ovens weren't meant for boys. even the boxes and advertisements only featured girls. while she was disappointed, mckenna was not discouraged. after signed other petitions, mckenna decided it was time to launch one of her own.
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she pen ad letter to the makers of hasbro and made this video. >> tell me, what do you want? what do you want for christmas? >> i want a dinosaur, easy bake oven. >> why don't they have any boys in the easy bake oven commercial? >> because -- because only girls lay with it. >> that was my little brother. my favorite chef in the world. he said it himself, gishls are the only ones supposed to cook. is this the message we want to send to our youth? >> in less than one month mckenna's petition received 45,000 signatures. even still, she didn't expect the response from hasbro. but, fact, monday mckenna found herself along with her mother and would brothers at hasbro head quarters in rhode island. she told the story of her visit right here on msnbc. >> hasbro, they -- first of all, they gave me a tour i round the factory which i thought was really cool. they showed me a prototype they have of a black and silver and
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blue easy bake oven which they said that they will use gender gnaw travel marketing to market with like including boys in their ads, things like that. it is really awesome. >> mckenna and family were among the first to see the prototype which will be introduced at the new york toy fair in february. mckenna told us her christmas list is made up of books we want santa to send us more of mckenna pope's looking to change the world. important fighting for little brothers around the country, mckenna pope is our foot sell jer of the week. check out our interview with mckenna on our website. that is our show for today. thank you. theo butler, michael and thanks to you at home for watching. i will see you tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. eastern. we will ask what's the deal with the fiscal cliff? coming up, "weekends with alex witt."
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