Twelve Angry Men: Why the kid should have gone to the chair.

Marcus's picture
Submitted by Marcus on Fri, 2007-09-21 16:12

A very well-written take on the film Twelve Angry Men from the classical liberal UK magazine "The Spectator". I always liked this film but the modern liberal message in this film didn't occur to me until recently. In this article Leo McKinstry points out that-

"For all its artistic quality, however, Twelve Angry Men is a morally flawed film. Essentially, it is a story of liberal conceit."

The Spectator
Issue: 15 September 2007

The kid was guilty as sin
Why the kid should have gone to the chair
Leo McKinstry

"The Fonda position is regarded as the height of compassion, but it is nothing of the sort. By letting the guilty walk free and crimes go unpunished, liberal campaigners have inflicted misery on the genuinely innocent. It is one of the bizarre paradoxes of modern liberalism that those who trumpet their concern for the vulnerable should actually be such noisy supporters of criminals, the nastiest and most aggressive people in our society. The acquittal of O.J. Simpson was the perfect example of the doctrine espoused by Twelve Angry Men, with someone who looked like an obvious killer found not guilty because of whispers about racism and a catalogue of spurious challenges over hard evidence. Barry Shreck and Johnny Cochrane, Simpson’s ruthless and cynical lawyers, were the real-life incarnation of Henry Fonda’s architect. Here in Britain the same process is at work. As violent crime soars, and thugs laugh at the justice system, we are all paying the price for Fonda’s morally inverted liberation."

The kid was guilty as sin. Why the kid should have gone to the chair.

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James S. Valliant's picture

Not to mention the fact that "juror" Fonda commits flagrant juror misconduct worthy of a mistrial...


Elijah Lineberry's picture

One character remarks partway through "you cannot send someone to the electric chair on flimsy evidence like that..." a line which had quite a remarkable effect on me.

Ever since seeing the film I have been more inclined to give people the benefit of the doubt, and require anyone throwing accusations around to corroborate their claims.

Even if a person, as an absolute, is actually guilty, I think the "standard of proof" needs to be very high if the penalty (whether it be reputation, monetary, gaol or whatever) will be irreversable.

Some good points Luke....

Marcus's picture

...I would have to watch the film again in order to work if the criticsm made here is valid.

However, from what I can remember I think that in general Henry and then later Jane Fonda were mostly pushing left-liberal agendas during their film careers.

To think of another one Henry Fonda was famous for, The Grapes of Wraith, for example.


Luke Setzer's picture

I have not seen the Fonda film in ages, but as I recall, he showed through slow and deliberate reasoning that the facts did not jibe with the notion that the defendant perpetrated the crime. Various facts, such as the direction of the stab wound, the questionable testimony of the vision-impaired witness, and a number of other critical pieces of evidence at least created a "reasonable doubt" despite the initial and unwarranted prejudices and biases of the jury members.

I especially liked the businessman because he at least appealed to the facts to support his initial "guilty" vote and, once shown that the evidence did not in fact support the accusation, used his reasoning to change his own mind.

Unlike American crime shows such as "Matlock," however, we did not get to learn who actually did the deed!

As for Simpson, one plausible argument says that his son committed the murders and he simply covered for him. Look for a book about this on Amazon published some years ago. This makes them both legally culpable, but by now the trail has long gone cold. In any case, I think he will find himself in jail for quite a long time based on his latest wrongdoings.

Luke Setzer -- Global Organizer -- PROPEL(TM)

I saw the famous black and white 1957 version.

Marcus's picture


It's quite a classic film starring Henry Fonda. I am quite surprised you have not seen it yet because it is often shown on TV. I didn't realise that there was a new version though. I enjoyed the "artistic quality" of the film - it's all staged in one room and has the atmosphere of the original play it is based upon. I admired the hero played by Henry Fonda who stood up against the opinion of the other protagonists in the name of "justice".

The first time I saw this film I was a teenager. However, the other day I was wondering - "who exactly was Henry Fonda standing up for again?" Then the penny dropped and amazingly I stumbled across this article a few months later.

I would very much like to see this movie

Sandi's picture

I notice that there is a 1957 and 1997 version. Which did you see or recommend?

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