Audio clips of his arguments before the Supreme Court in defense of Flag burning detail his faith in the necessity of freedom of speech even when that speech is obnoxious and unpopular. The first amendment, he argues, is not necessary for speech we all agree with. It is the right to say the things we don't agree with that needs to be guaranteed. It is a traditional defense of free speech, and it is a defense the court eventually agreed with.
The documentary includes a substantial material from the Kunstler family's collection of home movies and tape recordings, which fill out the sketch of his public face with some insight into private man. There is some reference to his first marriage, his service in the Pacific and his early career, but the central focus of the documentary is his fight for the rights of the underdog. This is symbolized in an anecdote about Michelangelo's statue of David that he oft repeated. The statue, he was told by on old man nearby when he first saw it in Italy, shows David at the moment he has to decide whether to fight against tyranny or turn tail and give up. David's decision is one we all have to make: stand up to injustice or become part of the problem. It is a decision that William Kunstler found himself making very often in his life.
He saw a government out of control; a government denying its citizens their rights and even killing them. J. Edgar Hoover, Governor Nelson Rockefeller, Judge Julius Hoffman were agents of repression and it was his duty to fight against them in any way he could. Civil disobedience, guerilla theater, resistance passive and perhaps not so passive: all options had to be on the table when fighting against an overwhelming tyrannical force. It is ironic that the overreaching governmental threat he so feared from the left, has today morphed into fear from the right. The pictures of the protesting activists of the sixties and seventies seem not so different from the tea party protesters today.
The DVD's bonus features include selections from Kunstler's speeches at SUNY Buffalo and Caroline's Comedy Club in New York in 1995, added footage from the Attica siege and more of the Kunstler home movies. There is also an interview of the filmmakers by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez from Democracy Now.