Recently several media outlets noted the anniversary of the murder of John Lennon. This is an annual blip in the news, and every year when reminded of it I want to make the entire world watch this video of longtime, legendary Detroit local TV newsman Bill Bonds offering commentary on it. His commentary beginning at 1:50 may be, without exaggeration, the finest moment of American television journalism. Since I have always been disappointed that a transcript of his commentary is not available anywhere on the internet, I invested the ten minutes necessary to do it myself.
I suppose like you I am depressed and saddened by this mad, senseless act. I don’t think John Lennon ever hurt anyone; he wrote and he sang songs. He brought pleasure and he brought entertainment to hundreds of millions of people all over the world. And at 40 when a man’s or a woman’s life really begins to "Come Together," he is gone forever. Murdered by some insignificant nobody with insanity and a pistol for his companions. It is not fair and it is certainly not right.
I wonder when America will finally control its guns, how many of us will have to be murdered before that will happen. John Kennedy. Bob Kennedy. Martin Luther King Jr. All murdered, all gone. Vernon Jordan, gunned down earlier this year. George Wallace, paralyzed, his life and career ruined. People, critics, newspapers all over the world today are looking at America and Americans and saying, "That is a brutal, barbaric place."
As I say control the guns and ban them, collect them all and melt them down, I know we are not going to do that. We are again left with painful, senseless trauma and the responsibility of feeding and clothing the Sirhan Sirhans, the Charles Mansons, the David Berkowitzes, and now the Mark David Chapmans of the world. How much better the world might be with Dr. King, Bobby Kennedy, John Kennedy, John Lennon, still alive, still with us.
But…no, Americans must have their guns. We know there is no shortage of good, strong, sensitive, talented men and women; we can afford to kill them. Our guns are signs of our freedom. Someday maybe all 220 million of us will own a weapon. Perhaps then we will appear as barbaric to ourselves as we must appear to the rest of the world.
We have so much. Why do we Americans need these damn guns.
Bonds, an alcoholic who once tried to physically assault Detroit mayor Coleman Young during an interview, is a throwback to a time – one long since passed – when one could be a "Man's Man" or a Tough Guy without waving around a gun like a surrogate dick. Such comments would never make it on the air today – especially not on the wasteland local TV news has become – despite the fact that they are as true right now as they were when first spoken.