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Charlton Heston passed away this weekend leaving behind a mixed legacy when it comes to political agendas and activism.

While not from Nebraska, he was a mid-westerner who grew up in Illinois which no doubt affected his beliefs throughout his life.  On the one hand, Heston marched with Martin Luther King, Jr., campaigned for John F. Kennedy and even supported an early version of a gun control measure.  On the other—much older—hand, he was an avid supporter of gun rights and had stark words when it came to race relations.

Note: the full post is at I am Nebraska's MTV's Street Team rep and write a story each week on politics and young people.

Originally posted to janeflemingkleeb on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 08:33 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Well thought out post (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    droogie6655321, slksfca

    Of course, you don't use a rifle to shoot clay pidgeons.

    "Capitalism is the only system that can make freedom, individuality, and the pursuit of values possible in practice." - Ayn Rand

    by headhunt23 on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 08:38:44 AM PDT

  •  After Heston went into a sort of retirement, (5+ / 0-)

    The NRA really took a turn for the worse. Sure, they do a lot of liberal-bashing, but at least they used to stick up for individual rights for hunters and sportsmen. They even supported wildlife conservation.

    But under Wayne LaPierre, the NRA has become a group by, of and for gun manufacturers -- individual owners be damned.

    Realignment (and it feels so good)

    by droogie6655321 on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 08:39:14 AM PDT

  •  Please define "assualt weapon" (0+ / 0-)

    That seems to be at the heart of the matter.

  •  NRA unreasonable (5+ / 0-)

    I agree with a lot of what you said.  I wish the NRA was more reasonable.  I think the NRA stand against the a 3 day wait and background checks is unreasonable.  I support people being allowed to own guns.  I used to love shooting at the range with my grandfather.  True hunters and sportsmen know the rules and etiquete of guns.  However, they should realize that inner cities with gun violance issues have legitimate issues.  

    I think there are reasonable compromises available.  

    But despite my disagreements with Charlton Heston concerning the NRA, you cannot deny his large  impact on our culture in so many area's.  And I believe that he was sincere in his beliefs and I respect that.  plus, I loved Planet of the Apes to the 10 commandments.  

    I wish him peace and pray for his family.  I saw an interview with him and his wife of over 64 years and was so impressed by her.  It is so tough on someone to lose a life partner after so many years.  My thoughts are with her as well.

    "The woman's life is misery; for God's sake, people, at least give her a few good songs". NYT review of The Color Purple

    by arogue7 on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 08:47:33 AM PDT

    •  agreed (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Urizen, Heiuan

      I agree to a large extent with the NRA's stance on guns generally.  However, I think that we need to deal with gun ownership issues at a local level.  As has been discussed time and again, guns have different cultural and historic backgrounds in rural America than they do in much of urban America.  Having a cookie cutter law / approach to the issue at a federal level, that applies to both settings, makes no sense and would not be tenable.  These is just too much of a difference in culture and worldview in the two settings on this issue.  Therefore, it should be a local issue.  With that being said, there is no good reason why a person would need an assault rifle... this is one area where I think any most reasonable people would agree and federal legislation makes some sense.

  •  FOX News delivered the final insult to Chuck (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Scoopster, Urizen

    It's really sad that a guy who was such a right-winger in his day can't even get remembered correctly by the Republican Pravda.  When they were announcing his death, they ran footage of James Franciscus from Beneath the Planet of the Apes, instead of footage of Chuck.

    "I am a comedian and poet, so anything that doesn't get a laugh ... is a poem." - Bill Hicks

    by shadetree mortician on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 08:51:31 AM PDT

  •  Good post (6+ / 0-)

    I'm a country boy and I grew up shooting.  Because of my personality I never liked killing critters and gave up hunting early on.  But I still like shooting at bottles.

    What urban people don't understand is the culture that revolves around learning the responsibility of guns.  Being allowed to shoot and, more significant, owning a 22 or .410, is a rite of passage for a lot of country boys (and even some country girls).  A friend of mine described it as a "redneck bar mitzvah", often the proudest moment in a young boy's life, when he's proven he's responsible enough to be trusted with a dangerous tool.  The suburban equivalent would be driving the family car (but that comes much later and the significance is lessened by that).  Anti gun control folks feel deeply insulted by laws that dismiss the importance of the "family values" aspects of fathers teaching their sons to behave responsibly with guns.

    The NRA (most of the members I've met are good, kind, people I'm glad to know) exploits the emotional reaction to "city folks" treating them like criminals (mugshots fingerprints) for doing something their families have done for generations.

    I think Howard Dean is absolutely right about this.

    •  As an east TN "country gal" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I also grew up with guns.  I never shot the critters.  If I had to be responsible for my own food, I'd be a vegetarian.

      There was another reason my family owned guns:  security.  In the rural, or even suburban, south we don't have law enforcement patrolling our neighborhoods.  In many places, 911 is quite a recent luxury.  I'm just over 5'7" and weigh about 120 lbs.  I don't DO rifles or shotguns.  The semi-automatic is my security.

      Age of maturity? When you're old enough to realize that your parents are actually smarter than you. Obama '08!

      by browneyes on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 09:44:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My most enduring memory (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    of Charlton Heston isn't planet of the apes, soylent green, touch of evil, or ben hur.  

    During the sniper killings in Maryland he addressed an NRA meeting and there was a picture of him on the front page of a DC area paper (can't remember which) brandishing a rifle and most likely intoning "from my cold, dead fingers" to raucous cheers.  Another headline on the same page reported another killing by the snipers.  (Some brilliant editor made a great point through that juxtaposition --not a word needed to be written.)

    •  Memory or events, real and imagined (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I don't recall Heston making the "from my cold, dead hands" comment during the beltway sniper killings, which occurred in October 2002.

      I do recall that Michael Moore dishonestly presented Heston as delivering the "from my cold, dead hands" quote as if it occured in Denver 10 days after the Columbine shootings of April 1999.  In fact, that quote was delivered by Heston a year later in North Carolina.

      Heston did repeat his "cold dead hands" quote upon retiring as head of the NRA in April 2003.

  •  Well thought out diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Scoopster, Heiuan, frankzappatista

    The fair handed treatment that you give Mr. Heston is admirable.  There was a time when I was a member of the NRA myself but that was many years ago and their approach to politics was different than it has been in recent years.  The only thing that's permanent is change and that includes activist actors.  I prefer to keep his acting and his politics separate in my mind.

  •  guns are a losing issue for Dems--let it go! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    frankzappatista, browneyes

    cars kill more people than guns, but every idiot drives.  What a lousy issue to run against.  Dems should embrace Dean's position.

    Heston helped w/ Farm Aid in 99' w/ a bunch of liberals.  He wasn't black/white.  I respected him. be healed/the broken thing must come apart/then be rejoined.

    by Zacapoet on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 09:07:14 AM PDT

  •  I'm glad to see Heston get some love here (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Scoopster, Heiuan, browneyes

    He was pretty soundly demonized after the Michael Moore charade, when he was a cantankerous old man in the early stages of alzheimers. I kind of felt sorry for him. He was clearly an idealist throughout the early part of his career, and you almost get the sense that the cynicism expressed by his character "Taylor" in Planet of the Apes became a part of him, and when the promise of the 1960s failed to materialize he turned to the republicans (like a lot of old people) because under Reagan the party represented a return the values he grew up with, or maybe he was just fed up with the Hollywood brand of liberalism. Either way this really seemed like an ironic change of course for anyone familiar with Heston's career. My favorite role of his was the Mexican drug czar Mike Vargas in Orson Welles' Touch of Evil (1958). It was a quirky roll for him (his face was clearly touched up with shoe polish to make him appear more Mexican), but he delivered one of his best lines: "A policeman's job is only easy in a police state."


    I've always wanted to make a comment that ends with the word Mayonnaise

    by frankzappatista on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 09:11:43 AM PDT

  •  At least he starred in a pro-evolution movie. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boran2, frankzappatista
  •  I just can't forgive him... (0+ / 0-)

    ...for The Omega Man.  Ugh.

    Fear will keep the local systems in line. -Grand Moff Tarkin Survivor Left Blogistan

    by boran2 on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 09:30:30 AM PDT

  •  Heston was a good man. (5+ / 0-)

    I got into some heated debates on a thread I PERCEIVED as celebrating his death, and lost my ability to troll-rate.  (I am surviving.)  Maybe instead of losing my temper, I should talk about Heston the man, and Heston the actor.

    1. He was a solid actor.  I will never pretend he is on the level of a Marlon Brando, or some of his other contemporaries, but he did bring a passion to his roles, and when properly cast, made a film more enjoyable.
    1. Planet of the Apes is the single greatest sci-fi movie of all time.  The lukewarm re-make is a piece of shit, and should be relegated to the dustbin of history.  The original is a wonderfully creative way of looking at bigotry, man's inhumanity to man and to nature, and the violence and force of destruction that has been, and may well be our undoing.  Heston was hesitant to be involved in any sequels, and made a deal that he would do a brief appearance in the second film, ONLY IF THEY WOULD KILL HIS CHARACTER OFF, which they did, thus sparing him the pain of being a part of a franchise that was largely exploiting the success of an original, and seminal sci-fi offering.
    1. Heston, unlike most actors, was involved in activism, and most of his activism centered around the protection of people's rights.  I'm not an NRA member, and I don't agree with many or even most of that organization's stands, but I do agree in the right of Americans to own firearms, and I do agree that it is a fundamental human right, that can only be inringed on by a repressive, totalitarian government.  
    1. Heston was a good family man, and was married to his wife since 1944.  From all accounts he was a good husband, and good father.

    Heston was treated unfairly by Michael Moore, one of the few criticisms of Moore I have ever agreed with.  His speech in "Bowling for Columbine" was heavily edited, and that trip to his home was wholly unnecessary.  Heston had the good grace to let a gadfly like Moore into his home, and simply didn't feel it was justified for Moore to imply that the deaths of innocent children was somehow Heston's responsibility.  I had really enjoyed that film up until that scene, and feel it was in questionable taste.  A lot of time, questionable taste is what I like about Moore, but that just didn't play too well for me.

    All in all, Heston was a human being, and he didn't get thousands of people killed, like certain presidents I know, and he wasn't out to hurt or exploit people.

    He is neither a hero nor a saint; he is also not anything even remotely resembling a villain.

    He is an iconic actor, activist and human being, and should be remembered for those reasons, and those contributions he made.

    God Bless you, Charlton Heston.

  •  Here I go again... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dj angst, browneyes

    Playing my one-note trombone on this issue:

    State control over gun laws: This only works if the right to keep and bear arms is not a fundamental, individual right. I think it is, lots of other people don't, and the Supreme Court is about to tell us one way or the other. If, as I think they will, the Court rules that it is a fundamental right, then the States will have (and should have) no more authority to regulate that right than they do any other right. Which, under the "strict scrutiny" test that applies to fundamental rights, isn't much. There aren't too many (any?) books that I can buy in Vermont that I can't buy in California.

    Assault weapons: A made-up issue, based on emotion and a fundamental misunderstanding of firearms. As a matter of law, the definition of "assault weapon" is almost purely cosmetic, having no bearing whatsoever on the firearm's lethality r suitability for any particular purpose. "Assault rifle", on the other hand, is a term with a specific meaning: A carbine-length select-fire (ie, fully-automatic) rifle firing an intermediate-power cartridge. The term is used to distinguish these arms from "main battle rifles" which are (now) select-fire weapons firing full-power cartridges (.308 Winchester in the West, 7.62x54R in the former Warsaw Pact armies). Terminology matters. As soon as people hear "assault weapon" they think "machinegun", which isn't really the case, as private ownership of machineguns is separately regulated. And extremely safe, as no crime has ever been committed by the owner of a legally-owned NFA weapon.

    Gun control as crime control: Simply doesn't work. every example on one side of the argument has a counter-example on the other side, and just about every study that's been done has validated the pre-existing positions of whoever paid for it. That tells me that there is simply no correlation to be found. Or, alternatively, that for every life saved by gun control laws, another one is lost because of them. Which, if you're going to use the "if it saves one life, it's worth it" argument, you must also sacrifice the lives that it'll cost. Either way, the net effect is zero.

    And, politically, it's a vote-killer. If we want to win in the West, we're going to have to give up the idea of telling law-abiding citizens what guns they can own, how often they can buy them, or how long they have to wait to buy them. Focus on use, not ownership. It works better, and it won't cost you votes. Win-win.


  •  Charlton Heston (0+ / 0-)

    champion of civil rights...he only preached about the right to own guns and shoot  (people) never heard him or any of the "gun in every home" much as whisper a complaint when they took Habeas Corpus away, or Posse Commutates, introduced spying on every one (in every form from phone to mail), torturing ..yes real live torture, lying about Iraq ..none of that seems to matter to the civil rights defenders..all they really care about is being able to own as many guns as they can...why?..we have hardly any rights left to defend....

  •  I hope someone took the gun from his (0+ / 0-)

    cold dead hand.

    Anyone for a quick game of Chess.

    by CitizenOfEarth on Mon Apr 07, 2008 at 10:27:33 AM PDT

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