Letter: The real problem is on TV
The tragedy at Newtown, Connecticut is a reflection of our culture. The primary driver of culture and values in the modern world is the mass media. Television and the movie theater determines the cultural values that we live by. Children are raised in front of a television, which has become an electronic babysitter. Teenagers spend hours and hours watching TV or playing video games. The intellectual capabilities of these young people are not fully developed and, in many cases, are not able to distinguish between the fantasy world on TV and real life.
When I was a teenager, I can remember discussing movies with friends and we would say, ‘Wow, did you see that guy get his head cut off?’ We did not say, ‘Wow, did you see how good the special effects were when that guy got his head cut off?’ Television today is not just an orgy of sex and violence, it is an orgy of senseless sex and violence.
Each year on average about 13,000 people are murdered in our nation of 306,000,000. This is an average of about 36 people a day. This is 36 too many, but it averages out to about one murder for every two to three metropolitan areas in this country. The real gun problem is on television, where violence is sold for profit. I have never watched an episode of NCIS Los Angeles, where the "good guys" killed fewer than six people in an hour-long show. Most crime shows today involve an individual being killed in the most gruesome and barbaric manner that the screenwriter can imagine (those guys need help). Usually this killer is a serial killer who has dispatched another two to three victims during the hour-long show.
This in no way reflects the actual conditions of our society. If a law enforcement professional kills a suspect in the court of duty, he is immediately suspended and a thorough investigation ensues. On television, the heroes kill 6-10 people and are not even asked why by the police. Is the popularity of assault guns among gun enthusiasts driven by the advertising given them by these TV shows? Is it cool to own an AK-47?
Television and movies also project a culture of outrageousness on our society. It is no longer enough to be bad, you have to be despicable to get attention. This is reflected in the infamous incident in Afghanistan where the soldiers urinated on the dead bodies of the Taliban fighters and filmed it. It is not enough to just kill one person, to be famous you must kill lots. The video games our children are playing regard killing people as a way to rack up a score. This is what the individuals at Columbine, Aurora and Newtown have done. They killed indiscriminately, just racking up a score.
The presence of guns in our society is not the problem. The problem is the decision to kill. A man walked into a school in China with an axe. He killed five people. Television and Hollywood executives will say that sex and violence sells, but does this make it acceptable? A lot of people will call for gun control laws, but who will call for Hollywood and Madison Avenue to clean up their act?
Hollywood is morally, artistically and intellectually bankrupt, but their wallets are fat with cash gained not through art, but by pandering to the lowest common denominators of sex and violence. We can easily clean this up; all we have to do is pull the plug on the television set and listen to the simple wisdom that has been advocated by almost every religion/philosophy that I am aware of in our society. That wisdom is "love thy neighbor."