Media Violence ranks among the most controversial issue in today’s media-oriented era. The argument usually centers around two groups; those who believe that media should be restricted by the government and those who believe that media should not be restricted by the government. Advocates for limiting the amount of violence express concern about the short and long term effects of viewing the violence. A major obstacle to their efforts is the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which promises citizens that government will not bridge their rights to freedom of speech and freedom the press.
Some believed that some aspects of these freedoms should be restricted to control the amount of violence in mass media but these restrictions cannot be materialized. Media Violence is a help to the public. This essay provides convincing view that that media violence should not be restricted by the government. Thus, the government should recognize and consider media violence as a part in our society. II. MEDIA VIOLENCE SHOULD NOT BE RESTRICTED BY GOVERNMENT Media provides great source for all information and entertainments needed in the society.
Violence portrayed in the mass media, particularly on TV shows and movies, is often blamed for the U. S. violent crime problem. The key question therefore is that, should media violence be restricted by the government? or should it not be restricted by the government? The First Amendment Going back to The First Amendment that aided the phenomenal spread of television in the United States was the nation’s libertarian government structure. The libertarian government structure is based, to a great extent, on the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution.
It is viewed by some observers as “guarantee against government abridgement of freedom of speech and of the press” (Morison, 1965). Morison contends that the First Amendments is a pact between citizens and their government that certain liberties are too important ever to be subjected to the winds of political change: The First Amendments, in particular, is necessary safeguard against the prerogatives of those in position of power. Lynn (1988) asserts that any attempt to enact an antitrust law or to force producers to limit their operations amounts to a violation of the First Amendments.
Media and Violence Regardless of one’s views on limits to which the First Amendments should be subjected, there can be no disagreement that media is very present in the lives of Americans. Even though the research considered so far has tended to indict media violence as a cause of aggression, some researchers were slow to accept this idea. Many studies suggest that violence on TV and in the movies contributes to real-life violence but the actual effect of media violence remains unclear. Do these findings guarantee that if a child watches TV violence, a life of crime will result? Not at all.
First, it is important to understand that, not every child who watched large amounts of TV violence ended up getting involved in crime. Second, even though the researchers could predict a certain number of crimes based on childhood viewing of TV violence, we can’t be absolutely sure that the childhood viewing was a causal factor in the later commission of crimes by these adults Rethinking the Media-Violence Link Though this evidence is persuasive, the relationship between TV viewing and violence is still uncertain. A number of critics say the evidence does not support the claim that TV viewing is related to antisocial behavior.
Some assert that experimental results are short-lived. Children may have an immediate reaction to viewing violence on TV, but aggression is extinguished once the viewing ends. Experiments showing that children act aggressively after watching violent TV shows fail to link aggression to criminal behaviors such as assault. Aggregate data are also inconclusive. Little evidence exists that areas that have high levels of violent TV viewing also have rates of violent crime that are above the norm (UCLA Center for Communication Policy, 1995).
Millions of children watch violence yet fail to become violent criminals. And even if a violent behavior–TV link could be established, it would be difficult to show that antisocial people develop aggressive traits merely from watching TV. Aggressive youths may simply enjoy watching TV shows that support their behavioral orientation, in the same way that science fiction fans flock to Star Wars and Star Trek films. Causes of Violence Many researchers also proved television as being unfairly accused of perpetuating many ills affecting society.
Swanson (1993), founder and president of Viewers for Quality Television, declared that while no responsible person advocated gratuitous on television, television did not create violence. Masters (1993) quoted Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Associated of America, as saying that violence resulted from a series of woes including “one-parent household . . . drug abuse, abandonment of church, schools without discipline, lives without hope, squalid living condition . . as well as mysterious disconnects” (p. D2). Other respected researchers also believed that television was a convenient scapegoat.
There were various theories about the real causes of violence. These includes Justice justice System, child abuse, drugs, poverty and family structure: a. Justice System Some faulted the juvenile justice system. Kramer (1998) examined the juvenile justice system and teenagers who have committed violent crimes. She described cases of violent teenagers who received minimal, ineffective sanctions for the crimes they committed. She contented that juvenile courts actually encouraged further violence because they failed to punish violent acts.
Members of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency viewed the situation differently. They worked in corrections and advocated community-based programs and the family court system for handling cases involving juvenile offenders. They argue that the problem of violence been exaggerated and distorted. They contended that juvenile violence had not increased significantly. They disagree with proposals to jail juvenile offenders. They believed such a policy was dehumanizing and encouraged bitter teens to be violent when they were released.
Brownfeld (2000), a syndicated columnist whose editorials appears in conservative publications, argued that violence remained a serious problem in the U. S. because the justice system did not effectively deal with criminals. He believed that under plea bringing arrangements, parole, and legal technicalities, many criminals were set free who then murdered, raped, or robbed again. b. Child Abuse According to Bender and Leone (2003), several experts contended that the seeds of violence were sown in childhood.
They cited studies showing that 70% to 80% of the inmates in prison were victims of child abuse. They reported that almost one third of abused children grew up to abuse their children. Bender and Leone also cited the work of Los Angeles lawyer Paul Mones, who specialized in defending children who kill their parents. Mones believed that over 90% of children who killed their parents suffered physical, sexual, and mental abuse. In addition to the abuse they suffered, Mones contended, “It’s the violence they witness being done to people around them. It desensitizes them to violence” (p. 120). c.
Drugs Children who grew up in neighborhoods where drug dealing and crimes were common also witnessed a great deal of violence, and many observers feared that these children were more likely to grow up to be violent teens and adults. Wilson (1998) argued that the damage drug abuse inflicted on users also hurt society as a whole. He supported arresting and imprisoning drug dealers as a way to reduce drug-related violence. He strongly argued that drug abuse caused violent crime. He cited several studies which showed that majority of people arrested for committing crimes tested positive for drug use.
d. Poverty Poverty is also culpable of violence. A more and more children were born and raised in poor families, violence would increase. The children suffered from the instability caused by the parent’s lack of money. As these children grew older, they despaired that they would ever be able to work themselves. Thus, teenager’s violent behavior was an expression of frustration and an effort to take some of the wealth they were denied (Curtis, 2001). Minorities committed a disproportionate amount of the violent crime in United States and also were more likely to be victims of violence.
Curtis (2001) wrote that poor minorities were more likely to commit crimes because they had less to lose and more to gain than middle-class people. If they were successful, asserted Curtis, they might gain money or status from committing the crime. Violence would continue, he concluded, as long as poverty and racial injustice persisted. e. Family Structure Several commentators argued that there was a link between the rising number of single-parent and nontraditional families and the number of violent crimes committed by teenagers.
Christensen (2001) contented that children raised without both parents did not learn to respect authority. Without firm rules from parents, he said, many of these teenagers used violence to get what they wanted. Views of Violence as Beneficial Reasons why media violence should not be restricted by the government includes recognizing the media violence benefits. Bailey (1996) reported that observers saw value in the depiction of media violence. Some of them cited the notion of Aristotle and Freud, suggesting that media violence provided a healthy outlet for children’s aggressive tendencies.
They argued that watching violence on the television was a way to relieve tension aggressiveness. Those theorists held that releasing aggressive emotions during television viewing had the tendency to diminish violent acts by viewers. Moody (1990) reported that one school of thought minimized the link between television violence, postulating that, by watching violence on television, the viewer could release aggressive impulses vicariously without actually harming anymore, thus reducing the need to be violent.
Freud believed that the expression of aggressiveness feelings had a cathartic value that a person felt better afterward and the tendency to violence was temporarily reduced. Catharsis fir neatly with the theories of those who believed, as Freud did, that man was inherently aggressive. It also had been endorsed by many psychologists who held that aggression was learned, stemming from such environment factors as frustration. According to Bailey (1996), the purported outlets for aggressiveness energy covered a remarkable range of human activity. One was violence itself a physical or verbal attack.
Physical work and even creative effort have been held to lessen aggression. Participation in, or vicarious enjoyment of violent play was widely held to release aggression under conditions that prevented serious harm. Advocates believed that when the children viewed excessive television violence, they sometimes became less worried about violence when it was witnessed in real-life situations. One such advocate (Palumbo, 1998) argued that a result of children’s viewing television violence was that children became immune to the horror of violence, and they became passive when they saw violence occur in real life.
Conclusion People these days don’t see too much wrong with the violence in movies (The Salt Lake Tribune, 1999). Despite the evidence of mass media effects on aggression and violent crime, a government report found “no clear evidence” of a causal effect of TV violence on criminal violence. A conservative conclusion is that mass media violence has a small effect on real-life violence that is eclipsed by other influences. In view of the possible censorship involved in any legislative attempts to control the mass media, we should remain skeptical of mass media effects until the empirical evidence becomes compelling.
Even then, censorship remains an important issue that needs to be addressed. Violence and crimes have existed in the United States since its beginning, meaning it existed before the violence in media was created. Thus, the declaration that media violence and violence has relationship was too small to be meaningful. Further, accepting media violence will not only make the public aware that media violence can be a tremendous tool for teaching but also to lead the public to truth and reality. Therefore, media should not be restricted by the government.
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Sage Publications Kramer, R. (1998). At a tender age: Youth and juvenile justice. New York: Henry Holt and Company. Lynn, B. W. (1988). Television violence act: H. R. 3848; Washington, DC: U. S. Governemnet Printing Office Masters, K. (1993, June 9). On No TV Violence Cease-Fire. Washinton Post. p. D2 Moddy, K. (1990). Growing up on television: The television effect. New York: Time-Life Books. Morison, S. E. (1965). The Oxford history of the American people. New York: Oxford Press, p. 354. Palumbo, F. M. (1998).
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