ROBOTICK (jercar@aristotle.net)
Sun, 10 Sep 2000 15:14:04 -0500


I'd like to introduce everyone, regardless of your standpoint on this issue, to a book called The Giver.
It's about a symbolic society that reflects our own in a haunting way, and several aspects of it are closely related to this conversation.
The book is elementary reading and probably less than 100 pages.
You can read the whole thing in the line at the checkout counter for free.
  ----- Original Message -----
  From: L. M. Lloyd
  To: gundam@aeug.org
  Sent: Saturday, September 09, 2000 6:53 PM
  Subject: Re: [gundam] For the Barrel news

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  "Lesley M. Kinzel and Dennis C. Scimeca" wrote:

> It's not a matter of telling fantasy from reality. It is a
> matter of the constant buildup of media images in the psyche of the
> viewer. In the case of young children, who cannot truly understand
> concepts like morality, these violent images have a lasting effect.
> They
> cultivate the idea that violence is acceptable. This is not to say
> that someone who sees violent imagery goes out and kills a bunch of
> people, but it does create a society in which violence is viewed as
> an acceptable means for solving problems.

  How, then do you explain that simple fact that violent crime is at an
  all time low, and has been declining steadily since the early '70s?
  Your entire theory rides on the presupposition that violence has been
  increasing in our society, but this is not a supposition borne out by
  the crime statistics! Beyond a shadow of a doubt, throughout human
  history violence HAS been an acceptable way to solve problems. As
  recently as 50 years ago, fighting was considered the "proper" way to
  settle matters pertaining to ones personal honor. It seems to me that
  if anything, our society has become *less* reliant on violence since
  the introduction of television into our society.

> To say that an image-based media has no effect on a person's
> action or behavior is in complete disagreement with a host of
> scientific studies on the influence of media on psychology. Take
> the example of the Fiji islands/eating disorders study done that
> showed no presence of skinny-deal-body-image and anorexia in the
> islands before the introduction of television, and the existence of
> these phenomena no less that 5 years after the mainstream
> introduction of television.

  This is a seemingly good argument, yet I ask you: What image-based
  media was responsible for the Crusades, or the Spanish Inquisition,
  or the eating disorders of the ancient Egyptians and Romans?
  Certainly, if a society has never come in contact with a concept,
  then it is hard for that concept to effect their society. However,
  when you are talking about concepts as old as eating disorders, sex
  appeal, violence, and body-image, it is hard to blame them on a
  medium as young as television, much less video games. If you are
  going to blame anyone for the transmission of these concepts, you
  should really be pointing your finger at the first hominid to draw a
  cave painting of a symbolic (meaning, by definition, idealized)
  hominid. If you are looking for a scapegoat for violence, talk to the
  first organism that fed on another organism.

  What you are saying, is that we should do away with any form of
  communication, for fear that what might be communicated is something
  distasteful.

> Well, I agree that you cannot lay sole blame on video games and
> movies and television for child violence, but we have to
> acknowledge that these media are having some effect. How anyone
> can say otherwise after Columbine and the other 17 or so school
> shootings over the past several years, considering the type of
> media consistently reported as being viewed by these assailants.
>

  We live in a society that is safer, less violent, less warlike, and
  generally less likely to slaughter everyone on the other side of the
  hill from us, than ever before in the history of mankind! Yet, you
  are saying that there *must* be *something* to the fact that the tiny
  handful of our youth that act violently, are all watching the exact
  same shows that our well behaved youth watch. You assert that the
  fact that 20 violent children played games that sold hundreds of
  thousands of copies, therefore *proves* that there is some
  correlation.

  I think you need to listen to yourself, or more likely reexamine the
  politically correct tripe you are parroting back, because the
  demonstrable fact is that a miniscule percentage of our society acts
  in a violent manner, whereas a vast majority of our population
  partakes of the exact media you claim influences violent behavior.
  The thing that really cracks me up is that if you look at how violent
  our society was before any of these "warping" media were present, you
  will find that there has been a dramatic drop in violence since these
  media presented themselves. I mean, exactly what TV show told us to
  slaughter the American Indians? Was there a first person shooter
  running on a Babbage Machine, that warped Hitler into thinking the
  Jews were a threat to him? For that matter, if I reverse all the
  pinouts on my joystick, so that I am playing Unreal backwards, do I
  receive secret messages from the devil?

> The fact of the matter is, as any child developmental
> psychologist could tell you, children cannot make a crystal-clearly
> discern fantasy from reality until the ages of 9-10, but it varies
> based on the
> child. Nonetheless, I can say with a large degree of certainty
> that children below these ages are watching Looney Toons and Tom
> and Jerry long before these ages. You cannot "teach the child
> properly" before the media has impacted on the psyche.
> And this certainly contributes to the "warping" of a child's
> mind.
>

  I hate to break it to you, but even if they don't watch any cartoons,
  they are going to have dreams before you can adequately explain to
  them the difference between fantasy and reality, and those dreams are
  going to be affected by what they see in the world around them. Now
  here comes the nasty part... PEOPLE REALLY DO DIE! It is not
  something that just happens on television. It is not something that
  just happens in videogames. They die, they kill, they commit
  violence, and they always will. If your kid never sees television,
  never reads a book, never reads the newspaper, then their first
  experience with violence will be when the first kid at school pushes
  them down for their milk money. If you take your kid out of school
  and move out to the country, then their first experience with
  violence will be when the family dog gets mauled by a bobcat.

  There is no getting around it. Violence is part of the world. If you
  want to play ostrich and pretend it is not there, except on
  television and videogames, then be my guest, but if you don't expect
  your kid to stumble across it, you are deluding yourself. See, that
  is the part developmental psychologists neglect to tell you: Your kid
  can see reality much clearer than you can, because kids don't know
  enough to be delusional.

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