“We must denormalize this attitude”

Just rewatched a great speech our friend Brian Lilley gave to a group of Albertans last year, two years after the High River gun grab. We are a year later and “this attude”, that gun owners’ rights don’t matter, is still very much alive.

Like Brian, we say this: It’s not about guns. It’s about your fundamental right to self-defence. And we need to help people understand that. That’s the purpose of our documentary.

As one of our backers, Bryan Moir, put it on Facebook today:

While we decry the actions of the state police I wonder how many of you will speak or spoke with your wallets to fund the work and documentary underway by John Robson? without solid historical and legal precedent conveyed in a way so all can understand FB posts are nothing more than yelling down a well.

There is still time to make a contribution to our project and add your name to the credits. Visit the “Help us” page for details.

Of guns, crime and terror

Reposted from John Robson Online:

The recent terrorist attack in Orlando has prompted some people to call for Americans to surrender their right to bear arms. It’s understandable that they would try to exploit the tragedy. But it is not a rational response.

We see that particularly by comparing the Pulse nightclub massacre to the November 15 terrorist attack in Paris, where firearms and explosives were used to kill over 100 people including 89 at the Bataclan theatre. France has strict gun control laws. They didn’t keep the bad guys from getting guns. But they did keep the victims from fighting back. And at the Pulse nightclub, for whatever reason, no patrons seem to have been armed.

Then there’s the June 28 attack at Istanbul airport, using explosives and, again, firearms that Turkish citizens and residents are emphatically not allowed to own. And a correspondent has also noted that the murder, apparently an act of insanity rather than terrorism, of British MP Jo Cox, involved a firearm in a nation that in recent years has brought in very strict gun control.

Cox was shot using a weapon that was by various reports either an antique or improvised. But she was also stabbed. And the knife wounds alone would very probably have proved fatal; London has seen a gruesome jihadi killing using a car, knives and a cleaver. In any case there are also millions of illegal guns in Britain readily available to criminals and maniacs. But no law-abiding citizen present when she was attacked was armed and able to shoot the attacker before he could stab Cox repeatedly and fatally.

The notion that stricter gun control will prevent or reduce terrorist incidents, or acts of insane murder, simply doesn’t fit the facts. Terrorists can use explosives, as in the 7/7 attacks in London. And both they and thugs can easily get firearms even when ordinary citizens cannot, because of the by now familiar point, at least it should be familiar, that criminals don’t obey the law.

When trying to explain similar events, it is important to focus on the elements they have in common especially if we are the sort who boasts of “evidence-based decision-making”. And what we find in these attacks is jihadist motivations and the ability of bad guys to get weapons including firearms regardless of local laws. Yet people were also quick to attribute the Pulse nightclub shooting to Western homophobia, very curious given that the assailants were adherents of an austere, nihilistic and ferociously anti-Western brand of Islam. Oddly, there was little attempt to link the Bataclan attack to dislike of cosmopolitan or hedonistic lifestyles, even though that was an important aspect of the Paris terrorists’ choice of target. And it’s hard to see how homophobia could have motivated the Istanbul attack.

To exploit such incidents to push arguments against gun control or social conservatism is understandable, even predictable. But it’s not rational. And it’s not very nice eith


Great Scots!

Hadrian’s Wall

Today was a day for Scots and Scotland. We started out just west of Newcastle with Hadrian’s Wall, then drove to Edinburgh, then Stirling Castle, Bannockburn battlefield memorial then Glasgow for the night.

One half-Scot sitting on a wall…

On the road between Newcastle and Edinburgh we took half an hour to swing by Cockburnspath, which is the ancestral home of the Robsons. We went down to the beach and dipped our feet in the North Sea.

Ah, good old Cockburnspath

The old Scottish parliament, which looks better than the new one
With Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn

Tomorrow we drive back down to Worcester (if there’s time we’ll swing by Wales). It’s all driving and recharging the batteries, and not much filming, for a day. We are back in the saddle Friday.

Sherwood Forest and the mother of all traffic jams

She does look fierce, yes?

This morning we stepped way back in time – all the way to the 7th century at the Saxon village in West Stowe, where they have some really cool stuff. Of course John recorded several video clips there, but we also found time to have a little bit of fun, with the youngest assistant modelling 7th-century defensive headgear for the camera.

The real deal

We then got on the road to Sherwood Forest but unfortunately got mightily delayed by the mother of all traffic jams on the A1. Two hours we sat on that highway, not getting anywhere. Some of us who aren’t particularly fond of traffic jams found this a touch aggravating.

The A1, a famous parking lot
Robin Robson

We eventually got through and on we went to Sherwood Forest, which is extremely cool indeed. This is John doing his thing at the Major Oak, where we met a group of very friendly Irish folks who played Robin Hood music and danced for our cameras, which was most excellent.

Our last stop for today was at the site of the battle of Stamford Bridge, near York. We then made our way to our hotel just outside Newcastle. Tomorrow morning we go to Hadrian’s Wall then on to Scotland!

1066 and all that rain

It’s not true that it rains all the time in England. But when it does rain, it does rain. This morning was very soggy and windy and just ridiculously wet. I joked at some point that we were so wet we were starting to feel British. But we decided to go to the site of the Battle of Hastings even if we had to swim. The challenge when filming in the rain is twofold: Keeping the equipment (especially the lens) dryish, and keeping the talent mostly dryish. This means the rest of us who aren’t John or the camera get wet.

Where England got conquered

Keeping the lenses and the talent dryish

And I do mean wet. But we did get good stuff, if I say so myself. We then drove to Oare, to the site where James II failed to flee to France back in the Glorious Revolution. By then the sky was clearing up a bit and we rejoiced mightily. After that we drove to High Laver to go pay a visit to the bones of John Locke in an exceedingly charming old church.

See? It doesn’t always rain…
Mr. Sun was back in time for our visit to John Locke

Tomorrow bright and early we go to a Saxon village, then we’re off to Sherwood Forest then Stamford Bridge. We shall spend tomorrow night in Newcastle.

Fun in the rain

Rain. We got up with it, and it followed us all day, with only brief interludes here and there. Enough to get some really neat footage, mind you. Today was not as busy on the filming front given how much driving we had to do. We started out at Tintagel in the morning, where we got ourselves thoroughly wet (but also cold!). But oh, what a place.

At Tintagel with a very wet, cold and slightly miserable little assistant

Then we drove to a 17-century village called Little Woodham, which stayed open late just for us. What a lovely bunch of people. They’ve done such a wonderful job of recreating this village and making it fun and interesting. They even have a somewhat half-tamed fox hanging around. We had a grand old time recording a few hits there, then drove to our hotel near Brighton. Tomorrow, we go to Hastings, then up north-east towards Oare and High Laver to talk invasions, James II, and more John Locke.




Eldest working on her camera skills

Between Bideford and Bude

A very friendly slug
King Arthur may well have been here
On the way up to Cadbury Castle we saw very cute and friendly cows
We visited the birthplace of John Locke in Wrington
Bath is awesome
Roman bath in, of all places, Bath

Phew, what a day! We started out in Bath, at the Roman bath. Something not to be missed if you’re in the area. I’d been here in the late 1990s and the place was as magical today as it was back then, including the extraordinarily luscious fudge factory.

We then drove to Wrington via countless “roads” that were so small as to be comical. I’m talking barely wide enough for one car, and these were two-way “roads”. With no stop signs or speed limits or anything. Not that you need speed limits; you’d be nuts to go fast. What do you do when you meet someone going the other way? Stuff your car into the hedges, and zoom past each other with entire eights of inches to spare.

Brits have nerves of steel behind the wheel, I tell you. Me, I’m still shaking. Well, OK. Not quite. But almost.

Anyhow, Wrington was thoroughly lovely but we had to leave to go to Cadbury Castle, where it is thought that King Arthur spent time with his knights. Or so the legend goes. We had to drive along many more comically narrow “roads” to get there, then walk a little over 500 metres up a fairly steep hill, schlepping the gear. We met a friendly group of cows gently pasturing and leaving patties all over the field. I tried to interview the cows but they got camera shy. The overly friendly slug did not have that problem. She crawled all over my gear bag.

Then off to the Devon/Cornwall area for the night, before heading out to Tintagel in the early morning.

The weather so far is working with us (not too hot, not too cold, not raining; can’t complain), and unlike last year we seem to be stomach-bug-free so far this time around, yahoo.

We are very happy with what we have on camera already. We are a bit tired now so in honour of Fathers’ Day we are each drinking one full beer before going to sleep early. Tomorrow we start the day with a healthy Cornish breakfast (they go for meat and fat around here; my kind of people) and continue on our journey.