VIDEO: Eight Years In Jail For Plastic Bags

The Heritage Foundation this morning has a post with a video about Abbie Schoenwetter, a seafood importer who had his life destroyed and his freedom taken away for the crime of buying lobsters from Honduras packed in clear plastic bags rather than cardboard containers – violating a regulation the Honduran government doesn’t even enforce.

We talk often here at the Hayride about how conservatives should engage in the popular/entertainment culture and inject messages into it the way the Left does. A great example is Promised Land, the Arab-funded Matt Damon vehicle assailing hydraulic fracturing’s environmental impact. That movie is full of lies about fracking, and the public had zero interest in it. It made only $7.6 million at the box office, which is only half its $15 million production budget. When it goes to pay-per-view and DVD, it’s doubtful Promised Land will get much closer to break-even.

But Promised Land will make it to cable TV. And while it’s unlikely to get into the black even then, once the movie makes it onto HBO or Showtime or Starz, and subsequently to TNT or AMC, within a couple of years most – or a significant proportion of – Americans will have seen it. And that means the message of that movie will get into a large number of heads. Together with Gasland, another mendacious anti-fracking movie done in documentary style which is still plastered all over HBO’s programming schedule even a year or two after its release, the Hollywood Left’s efforts to poison public opinion against fracking will be unchallenged – and likely bear fruit at some point without any pushback from the Right.

Which ultimately has a significant effect on the public conscience, and ultimately that effect shows up in elections and public policy.

Think about all the movies Hollywood made attacking the Iraq war. There were tons of them. All were dogs at the box office, and none of them ever broke even. But they all made it onto the cable movie channels and Netflix and so forth, and at some point or other most Americans ultimately saw at least some of them.

People spend lots of money to get in front of you for 30 or 60 seconds to push a commercial message to you. These guys are in front of you for two hours to push the cultural message they intend. When there are multiple vehicles for that message, and there is no countervailing message from our side, ultimately we will lose.

And we did. The Iraq war became a political disaster by 2006 and Democrats rode the anti-war sentiment to a midyear triumph that year and Barack Obama’s election in 2008 – largely on the basis of his anti-war stance. John McCain barely stood a chance as a proponent of aggressive American foreign policy amid an electorate saturated in terrorist-America-as-the-world’s-bully messaging.

Not to mention that at the same time Hollywood was cranking out one apocalyptic movie after another while Bush was president – a trend which seemed to grind to a halt in 2009, once he was gone. Hollywood destroyed the world with asteroids, solar flares, global warming, alien attacks, disease and everything else they could think of between about 2002 and 2009, and virtually every film in that genre had as its basis the concept that Western capitalist society was wasteful, destructive, immoral and unsustainable. Little surprise after such an onslaught that the public has felt for several years that we’re in decline as a country and on the wrong track.

The point of the above is to note that a story like Abbie Shoenwetter’s might make a pretty good feature film. There is a large market out there for a story about a regular American caught up in a Byzantine bureaucratic meatgrinder which makes him a criminal for merely engaging in legitimate commerce – but Hollywood will never make that movie. It would require someone outside of Hollywood willing to invest resources into telling that story.

Whether the box office potential is there is a good question. It might not make a lot of money. But it would make it to cable TV, and it would be injected into the culture.

There are lots of good stories out there which could be injected into the culture if someone outside of Hollywood who doesn’t share the cultural and political ideology of Hollywood would be willing to engage in the marketplace. We’ve offered up a few

  • A biography of Frederick Douglass, America’s ORIGINAL civil-rights leader who helped inspire the founding of the Republican Party and whose philosophy was that blacks should be freed from slavery and then absolutely left alone by the government;
  • Any of Vince Flynn’s highly-successful political intrigue novels;
  • The story of Ronald Reagan’s fight against communist activists when he was president of the Screen Actors Guild in the late 1940′s
  • The stories of St. Augustine, St. Francis of Assisi or St. Patrick – or how about Mother Theresa?
  • The story of Eddie York. You don’t know who Eddie York was, but he was a West Virginia coal miner who crossed a United Mine Workers picket line in 1993 and was killed by a union mob. Nobody was ever convicted in the murder, but the union – and its then-president Richard Trumka – paid a $1 million wrongful death settlement to York’s family.
  • The Tawana Brawley or Crown Heights stories from the perspective of what actually happened, which would not make Al Sharpton look like the statesman he’d like to present himself as.
  • A biography of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, who as it turns out was a genocidal racist who spoke of the benefits of abortion in controlling “undesirable” populations at Klan rallies in the 1920′s.
  • The story of how Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II banded together to keep the Solidarity movement alive in Poland as it resisted Soviet domination and ultimately prevailed.
  • An accurate portrayal of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Pol Pot, Juan Peron, Kim Il Sung or Leon Trotsky.
  • The story of New York Times Moscow correspondent Walter Duranty and his long history of fraudulent reports about Soviet horrors before World War II, including his denials of the Ukrainian Holodomor and the development of the Gulag Archipelago.

It’s a major missing weapon in the fight. Until we engage in the culture, we’re going to struggle to win elections against people unfit to govern a school board – with the ultimate effect being a lot more Abbie Schoenwetters as victims.



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