January 23, 2005

Moore Than Meets The Eye

I was a bit alarmed to get an email indicating that Fox news (and I) may have rushed to judgment on the "Michael Moore bodyguard" story. Petitedov pointed me to this link over at Ace of Spades, who led me to this link over at Moorewatch.

However, I think I'm going to stand by this one for the moment. If it's wrong, then not only did Fox News get it wrong (the story's still up, although they supposedly removed the link from the home page), but so did Newsday:
A California man who told police he was filmmaker Michael Moore's bodyguard was awaiting arraignment Thursday night in Queens for carrying an unlicensed handgun at Kennedy Airport, authorities said.

Moore, the 2003 Academy Award-winning director of "Bowling for Columbine," which spoofs and criticizes America's obsession with guns, was not with the bodyguard, Patrick Burk, 34, of Los Angeles, police said.

Port Authority Police arrested Burk at 8:10 p.m. Wednesday after he presented a black, .40-caliber Mauser pistol at a United Airlines ticket counter while trying to board a flight home, police said.

Burk has a license to carry the gun in Florida and California but not in New York, police said.

Sources said Burk arrived in New York with Moore on Jan. 11 for what was to be a short stay before they were to head to Michigan. It was not known how long Burk and Moore were together in the city.

Apparently, so did UPI:
Patrick Burk, 34, of Los Angeles, arrested at Kennedy Airport for carrying an unlicensed pistol, Newsday reported Friday.

Burk, who works for California security firm, Gavin de Becker & Associates of Studio City, said he was a bodyguard for Moore, who won an Oscar for best documentary for his anti-gun film, "Bowling for Columbine."

A National Rifle Association spokesman said: "This is the height of hypocrisy."

Port Authority police arrested Burk, who had presented his unloaded and locked .40-caliber Mauser pistol at an airport ticket counter, because he did not have a license to carry such a weapon in New York.

Oh, and so did Court TV:
A bodyguard who has protected outspoken moviemaker and gun-control advocate Michael Moore was arrested at Kennedy International Airport for allegedly carrying a pistol without a New York license, authorities said Thursday.

The points that Gavin de Becker brings up in his email refuting the story are nit-picky at best, and incorrect at worst. I know he wants to protect his firm and his employee. But let's face it--nobody cares about Burk and this incident or the firm he works for. Moore is the target. The story probably wouldn't have been picked up were it not for Moore's involvement. Regardless, de Becker says that it's incorrect to call Burk "Michael Moore's bodyguard" because he works for de Becker's firm, and protects others as well. That's ridiculous. Look, if you go up to Michael Moore and ask "who's your bodyguard?" he's going to say "Patrick Burk," no matter if Burk protects others or not. I would say that qualifies him to be "Michael Moore's bodyguard." Can you imagine someone trying to argue that you couldn't say that "[whatever establishment] is my barbershop" simply because it was owned by someone else and they also served other people? And they might not be actually cutting your hair at that very moment? Besides, in at least two of the stories Burk himself admits working for Moore as recently as January 11th.

De Becker also claims:
When checking in for the flight, Patrick Burk voluntarily advised United Airlines that he was transporting an unloaded, locked firearm in his checked luggage, precisely as regulations require, and not “carrying” a weapon, as your story inaccurately reports.

Again, I'm not sure this is necessarily incorrect. The gun was in his luggage. Unless he moved it by telekinesis, he was probably--you guessed it--carrying it. Just like someone might say "I'm carrying condoms in my wallet," or "I'm carrying tissues in my purse." De Becker's objection is understandable, though, because people will likely confuse the everyday use of "carry" with the legal use--to have on one's person. Misleading? Probably. But incorrect? I would say technically not. Regardless, the point is that Burk was on his way home to Los Angeles, which means he had the gun in NYC where he is not licensed to have it. Now, obviously no one can prove he "carried it" in the legal sense, but it seems likely that since he was there since the 11th apparently guarding Moore, that he probably would have the firearm on his person. Why else bring it?

de Becker also says it's incorrect to call the gun "unlicensed." I somewhat agree with him, because to say it's an "unlicensed gun" makes it seem to be, say, something bought on the black market, although I think then it would be called an "unregistered gun." But again...In a technical sense? The gun is not licensed to be used, or carried, in the state of New York. de Becker points out that it is "registered" to Burk, which I'm sure is the case. I might be mistaken, but I believe that "registered" and "licensed" are slightly different things. Sort of like a car. As long as I have a license (which applies to me), I can drive any car, no matter who it is registered to(which applies to the car).

Anyway, to sum all of this up, I wouldn't call the news stores "incorrect," but they are a bit misleading, and Moorewatch should be commended for publishing de Becker's email, and providing the other side of the story. Regardless, the point to all of this really has very little to do with the incident at the airport. The reason I posted the initial story, as did Moorewatch.com, et. al., was because of Moore's hypocrisy. That hasn't changed. The man who made sport of the NRA, who claimed America had an "obsession with guns," that we are living in a "culture of fear"...He still hired armed guards to protect himself.

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