Anti Violence Plan Isn’t Just Limited To Guns (Guest View)

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Well-meaning people nationwide are looking for strategies to prevent the senseless slaughter of innocent souls.

I am as sickened as anyone by the mass killings of grade school children and educators in Newtown., Conn., the midnight murders of moviegoers in Aurora, Colo., and any other deadly rampage you care to mention. But I’m not convinced we’re looking deep enough as a society for solutions.

Much of the media discussion is focused entirely on firearms, which, regardless of your feelings about guns, are legally sold and possessed by millions of Americans. Weapons are owned by hunters, sport shooters, collectors and people who want the ability to protect their family, home and self.

These law-abiding people are not a problem. But there are many indications some restrictions are pending on legal firearms ownership. Perhaps the proposed concessions will prove tolerable and useful, but the changes won’t affect gun-toting criminals, who can’t obey any laws, or prevent the deranged from somehow getting their hands on a firearm.

Instead of focusing exclusively on weapons, we need to be looking at ourselves. There are too many aspects of our culture that celebrate violence to hold ourselves blameless.

Consider football, a sport I can watch with the intensity of a deer staring into headlights.

Celebrated are the game’s big hitters, who sometimes suffer later in life from concussion-related degenerative brain diseases.

Retired defensive standouts Junior Seau of the San Diego Chargers and Dave Duerson of the Chicago Bears committed suicide after years of troubled behaviors. So have others. And the NFL is facing a potential legal jackpot in a lawsuit filed by many former players alleging inadequate concussion care.

Yet NFL ratings are sky-high, Super Bowl ads this year cost a reported $4 million for a 30-second spot and broadcasters lavish praise on hard-hitting Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens, on the verge of his retirement. This is the same player who eventually took a plea deal after facing murder charges from two stabbing deaths in 2000. Have we lost our memories?

Think, too, about what passes for entertainment on the TV, more likely multiple TVs, in your home. Try clicking through an expanded channel lineup on cable or satellite and notice how many times you spot someone wielding or shooting a gun. Even if you watch just 30 seconds of each channel, you’ll count multiple guns. Try it if you don’t believe me.

This might not be damaging to well-educated adults with fully developed personalities, though it obviously trivializes and makes violence and death appear normal. But it has to take a toll on the disturbed and on children, who also are big consumers of violent video games.

When I was a child, I was not permitted to watch violent TV shows. There were no video games. But children today spend many more hours alone and unsupervised. What they see generally is not filtered, and the sights available on the TV of today are shocking, horrific and saturating compared to the tamer fare shown on three network television stations in the 1950s and ’60s.

Only in-home supervision and control will help. We must learn to reject violent entertainment.

This isn’t a problem for government and lawmakers. And it will take a generation of avoiding violence to achieve any measurable results. It’s too late for today’s youngsters, who daily sample a video menu described perfectly by Joe Walsh, an excellent songwriter and guitarist who performs with the Eagles and as a solo artist. See if you don’t agree with Walsh’s assessment in a verse from “Analog Man.”

“The whole world’s glued to the cable TV. It looks so real on the big LCD. Murder and violence are rated PG. Too bad for the children, they are what they see.”

Gary Metro, editor of the Southern Illinoisan in Carbondale, is a former editor of the Globe Gazette. He can be reached at 618-351-5033 or gary.metro@thesouthern.com. Both papers are owned by Lee Enterprises Inc.

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Source : http://globegazette.com/news/opinion/editorial/anti-violence-plan-isn-t-just-limited-to-guns-guest/article_7606e892-6069-11e2-a71a-0019bb2963f4.html

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