Question on Violence

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There have been lots of political conversations in recent days on the use of violent rhetoric and lots of calls to tone down the rhetoric. It got me thinking a little bit, and I wanted to pose a question and see what other people thought. The reality is we live in a fairly violent world. Movies, TV, music and video games are all filled with violence. Generally, those forms of violence have been dismissed and explained away by saying that people understand the difference between TV and reality. Is there a difference? If we understand the difference between TV and reality, why would we not understand the difference between political rhetoric and reality. There are lots of calls to tone down the political rhetoric, but I do not remember the last time I heard a politician call for a toning down of violence on TV. In some ways the conversation seems a little misguided. Heaven forbid we had heated poltical debate, but we have no problem with someone getting shot on a TV show, something seems backwards. Again, I am not sure of the answer, but wanted to see what insights the rest of you had.

About Craig Mayberry

Closed Account • Member since Jan 17, 2008

While writing his articles from 2008 to 2011, Craig lived near Lynden and taught at both Whatcom Community College and Western Washington University. He was active in politics and ran for public [...]

Comments by Readers

Paul deArmond

Jan 12, 2011

Craig, you’ve put your finger on it. The far right has so deluded itself that it can’t tell the difference between fiction and reality, particularly when it comes to acting from an exterminist agenda in both word and deed.  The problem isn’t just that this violent rhetoric inflames the mentally unbalance, the problem is that it is becoming very difficult to distinguish between the mentally unbalanced and the far right.

I understand your desire to reframe the debate to take some heat off the problem of right wing politics framed in terms of violence and intimidation.  But that is a very real problem in the real world and not a construct of fictional amusements or clever attempts at argument.

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Paul deArmond

Jan 12, 2011

I know it’s rude to answer rhetorical questions directly, but if you didn’t bother to look into politicians addressing violence on television, I found the following link in less than 30 seconds.  http://rockefeller.senate.gov/issues/children/tv.cfm

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Todd Granger

Jan 12, 2011

Actually Paul,
Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood, came from the House Next Door.
http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/minute/The_Caning_of_Senator_Charles_Sumner.htm

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Ham Hayes

Jan 12, 2011

Craig, it is deeper than just politics.  So far homo sapiens has at least 5,000 years of recorded history with a good dose of violence included. There’s good stuff in that history as well, but our species seems incapable of differentiating which is more important.  Continuing to look at and bemoan the symptoms and ignoring the root causes may be our biggest failing.

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Todd Granger

Jan 12, 2011

And our West Virginia Pork?

Project: Reading is Fundamental
West Virginia Pork Amount: $25,000,000

And back before there was such a thing as a local school district…

“Ours are the only farmers who can read Homer.”
Thomas Jefferson,
Violence at it’s finest hour.

Just shoot your tv, then your child will learn to read by 2nd grade.

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Steve Wilson

Jan 12, 2011

Violence is NOT inevitable.
CONFLICT is inevitable.
Violence is PREVENTABLE.
NONVIOLENCE is the way.

If it weren’t for our obsession with the media we would hardly experience violence in our personal lives. We need to re-establish trust in our peaceful natures.  Our true progress as a civilization rests on our ability to cooperate.  Competition brings out our most flagrant failures.

Glad you are asking the tough questions. There are no easy answers, but the path to follow is crystal clear.

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David Marshak

Jan 14, 2011

The introduction of television violence into a culture does correlate positively with increased violence in the population, particularly among male teens. This effect was demonstrated both in western Canada and in Australia as TV was introduced.

We just choose to ignore this link in the US and elsewhere, because we choose to ignore all kinds of pernicious phenomena that entertain us and/or make someone a lot of money.

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Devlin Sweeney

Jan 16, 2011

I think one of the main differences between entertainment and politics is just that. Entertainment can be shut off and walked away from. Politics however creates ignorance when you stop listening. Also I think it’s important important to separate what is entertainment and what is politics

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