The Wicked Problem We Face Regarding Alec Baldwin
Updated: Oct 25
This article has been updated on the basis of new information:
On the 21st of October 2021, Actor Alec Baldwin was practicing his draw in preparation of the next take. This lead to an accidental discharge of a weapon Baldwin had been informed was "cold" that has fundamentally and irrevocably altered the course of his life.
In what amounts to a terrible tragedy, Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins lost her life and Director Joel Souza was injured as a result.
The outcome of this event has left many people in a state of grief and anguish and that will not come close to the level of pain that is being experienced by Halyna Hutchins' family and loved ones. Joel Souza has also suffered injury and the incident has fundamentally altered his life also.
It is important to acknowledge that the most important people in this matter are in fact Halyna Hutchins and Joel Souza and every word I write here will be done so through the lens of that consideration.
It is clear that when Alec Baldwin woke up on the 21st of October he would have had no idea that by the days end he would be a killer. That is the sad truth of this matter. The question now is whether Alec is guilty of a criminal offense but this is where the "wicked" in the problem gets its hooks into the consideration.
First we look to the following considerations in order. Intentions, actions or a lack thereof and outcome. To achieve these we must apply the relevant considerations and in this case we must first look at the environment that the incident occured in.
It is becoming clear that safety management on the set was a complete debacle and there are reports coming out at the time of this writing that this is not the first live fire incident on this set.
There are also various reports recently predating this incident that have been alleging that a pressured Industry is leaning on those who work in it to the point of their physical and or mental burn out. Cost cutting and corner cutting are alleged to be rife in certain productions.
On one hand it could be said that the lack of safety standards is a major contributor but it could also be argued that Alec Baldwin exacerbated a situation of general failure in practice and as a highly experienced actor he should have been acting in accordance with his environment.
A report on MSN paints a bleak picture of the attitudes of the Producers and Baldwin himself when it came to matters of safety and protocol and if true then Alec Baldwin's situation becomes significantly more dire.
Was it the general lack of safety that set the scene for the situation to occur? Indeed this is evidently the case. If proper procedure had have been followed the gun would have been a harmless prop incapable of discharging a projectile of any nature.
Alec Baldwin was failed at a certain specific level and Halyna Hutchins and Joel Souza paid the price for that failure.
When it comes to intention then it is clear that there is no conceivable argument that can infer that Baldwin meant to kill Hutchins. Based on reports it is evident that Alec Baldwin was practicing his cross draw, oblivious to the fact he was holding a loaded weapon.
It is standard operating procedure for the AD to check the gun in front of the actor and anyone it is meant to be aimed at and this includes shining a light down the barrel.
It is clear that this process did not take place and that in itself in inexplicable. While it is true that Alec Baldwin is not in charge of that process, it is deeply unfortunate that Baldwin did not note and or respond to that absence of procedure. It is clear however that Baldwin was not just mucking about or as reported earlier, did not fire the weapon as a joke.
It is fair to say that what happened was a true accident based on the information provided but the question of how this accident was allowed to happen in the first place is very relevant.
A main rule of firearm safety is that any gun must be treated as real, functional and loaded at all times. In the case of props where a modified or simply empty gun is being used where pointing and discharging the weapon at a person or persons is required, strict protocols apply and these were not followed.
On the face of it there are three main parties identified so far and they have varying degrees of culpability. First we have the producers who evidently made financial considerations over safety considerations. There is strong culpability here. The producers put greed over human life and safety and there can be no mitigating that reality.
The second is the Assistant Director who provided the weapon and stated the gun was "cold" meaning safe. This individual is evidently extremely negligent and actively contributed to this tragedy. We can assume this person was under extreme pressure to appease the producers whilst under resourced so the human consideration applies in mitigation in my opinion. However this person is still highly culpable.
The third party is Alec Baldwin. It was an accident that was the final step in the process that produced the final and appalling result of an entirely preventable tragedy. A bright and talented woman lost her life and that is the undeniable and irrevocable reality of the situation.
At a human level it is impossible to not feel pity for Baldwin. The lack of ill intention is relevant in this matter and we know that Alec Baldwin will be suffering dreadfully.
Unfortunately, the human consideration aside, it is possible that Baldwin contributed to the lack of safety standards in his position as a producer and we are faced with the following consideration.
"And despite Baldwin having recently gone through a firearm-safety training session, the source said safety protocols were all but ignored by both Baldwin and the responsible production members."
It is evident that at least two parties culpable in the death of Halyna Hutchins and it is equally evident that these parties are struggling in the matter of mitigation. If Alec Baldwin faces legal issues then I expect the focus will be on his role as a producer.
I really feel for Alec Baldwin and I truly hope that he is cleared. As for the other parties involved there are evidently serious issues in need of examination. This is a tragedy for all concerned but there must be accountability. The facts and the death of Halyna Hutchins demand it.