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Politics in Media

  • Date Submitted: 10/17/2010 04:20 AM
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The Politics of Media

Violence

"Excessive" violence in the media is a perennial boogeyman trotted out by politicians for each new election cycle. Whether on TV, in movies, video games, comic books, the Internet, or music CD's, our national leaders view "violence" (however poorly defined) as a prime excuse for censorship and state oversight.

While there is evidence that such media-portrayed violence can influence certain children, usually such kids are more aggressive to begin with. As the limited effects model suggests, there is no strict causality between media violence and subsequent real-life violence perpetrated by media consumers.

The fact that actual violence abounded long before mass media were around does not deter the prohibitionists and the censors. Wars, rapes, kidnappings, and murders are staples in human history. What the anti-violence crowd cannot explain, for example, is the recent decrease in youthful violence even as make-believe violence in films and games has increased.

Nevertheless, the fear of "copycat" crimes pushes politicians and others to act. V-chips are installed in new TV's to "protect the children"...whether you have offspring or not. The publisher of the book Hit Man pulled the title after being sued for "inspiring" a murderer. TV and game producers "voluntarily" label their products before the government can impose such ratings.

Coverage of the mass murders at Columbine and elsewhere transform gun advertisements in magazines and innocent products such as toy soldiers and toy guns into deadly threats that can only be dealt with by draconian "zero tolerance" policies in our government-run, mandatory schools. "For the children," images of guns are expunged from movies and cartoons. "Violent" lyrics in music are blamed for the murder of police officers.

Not much has changed since Fredric Wertham's 1954 book, Seduction of the Innocent, lambasted EC Comics and led to the creation of the Comics Code Authority. In the...

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