I was sorry to see Tom Laughlin, the creator of the iconic “Billy Jack” movie franchise, passed away. Very few film heroes fought injustice the way Laughlin’s former Green Beret did.
Billy Jack eschewed reason for round house kicks, negotiations for knock-out punches. He blasted bullies, rapists, white collar criminals and other assorted low-lifes, all of whom richly earned his ire.
His mission in life, judging by the only Billy Jack film I saw, was to protect the vulnerable and he always seemed to be in the right place at the wrong time, at least as far as the bad guys were concerned.
Billy would approach his leering enemy and calmly explain why what the creep had done was profoundly wrong - then came the karate chop to the throat or a boot to the head.
Billy Jack appeared at a time when President Richard Nixon was lashing out at his critics and particularly students protesting the Vietnam War. It became evident the Nixon administration would resort to any means necessary to suppress the anti-war protests when National Guard soldiers murdered four unarmed students at Kent State.
So Laughlin, a left wing political activist, produced an allegory for those sad times.
Billy Jack shows up at an “alternative” school in Arizona. It’s more like a hippie commune, but the point is nobody there is looking for trouble, just like the anti-war protesters exercising their Constitutional right to peacefully assemble.
Standing in for the Nixon administration are the local racists and red necks who make life miserable for the school's students and teachers.
Billy Jack represents justice, however harshly its meted out, and the dirt bags are soon getting what's coming to them as Billy shows them just how tough a liberal can be.
In 1977, Laughlin produced a sequel to his hugely successful first film called “Billy Jack Goes to Washington," but those were tame times compared to the tea party bullies on Capitol Hill nowadays.
I’d like to send Billy Jack to the House tea party caucus when it meets. Here’s the scene:
Billy, wearing his trademark jean jacket and flat brimmed hat with the Hopi bead band, stands in the caucus room, arms akimbo, glaring at the 80 House tea party representatives.
Billy: So, Broun, you and these others want to cut food stamps by 40 billion dollars?
Broun confidently glances at the 79 others in the caucus with a smirk.
Broun: Yeah, that’s right. Says in the Bible them what don’t work don’t eat. Get it?
Billy smiles ruefully and shakes his head.
Billy: But food stamps help little kids, old people, even unemployed veterans. I think you should put that 40 billion back in your legislation. I know you don’t want any trouble.
Broun: What, from you?
Billy: That’s right.
Broun: Just you…nobody else?
Billy: Uh huh.
Broun: We ain’t afraid o’ you…