Did violent movies and video games sow the rampage killing culture?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2013-01-08
Americans only react with utmost concern whenever an American youth goes amuck and goes on a rampage-killing spree. There’s the usual debate between the NRA (National Rifle Association) and those clamoring for stricter gun control. 

They debated the issue when the Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora, Fort Hood and Oak Creek mass murders happened. No real legislation was ever crafted despite the fact that these rampage killings were already happening at shorter intervals and with more frequency. Every time we see this debate after a rampage killing, we see those pro-gun advocates mouthing the same old line: “People, not guns, kill people.” Then they sport this look as if what they just said was a profundity. They’re idiots.

The pro-gun advocates have become even more stupid. After the Newtown Connecticut rampage killings, they have now suggested that there should be more cops in schools. The pro-gun advocates are being pushed by one of the most powerful lobbies in the US. No matter how bad public opinion has developed, this lobby is able to prevent any legislation from lessening their profits.

In another demonstration of NRA clout and yes — stupidity — they sued TV host Piers Morgan and urged that the Brit be deported. They were smarting from a particularly testy exchange Morgan had with Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America. When Pratt suggested more, not fewer, weapons as the solution, Morgan snapped back: “You’re an unbelievably stupid man, aren’t you?” You have absolutely no coherent argument. You don’t actually give a damn about the gun murder rate in America.” Given the job of Piers Morgan expect a worse tongue lashing from me for that stupid executive director. 

The right to bear arms has been extended to the extreme by the NRA. The right to bear arms was inserted in the US Constitution by the founding fathers of the less than 300-year old nation. It was relevant to the needs then to maintain a strong militia as the backbone of national defense. This however is no longer the American situation. The US doesn’t really have to rely on a militia when the US armed forces are there to ensure peace and national security. Keeping the law in its present state promotes more social tragedies like the rampage killings.

In American homes, you’re likely to see an arsenal that’s more potent that the firepower of the local police station. Just look at the weapons that the mother of the Newtown Connecticut mass murderer had. You’d think that would belong to a man but not a woman. With so much firepower around the house, a nut case like 20-year old Adam Lanza was a rampage killing waiting to happen. It’s as idiotic as putting a child with a cigarette lighter beside a pool of gasoline.

You wonder how the NRA could turn a blind eye on the realities of gun-related deaths all over the world. Countries with strict gun control laws have an index, per 100,000 of population, as follows: UK 0.25, Japan .07 South Korea, 0.13, and Singapore, 0. 24. The US chalks 10.2, followed by the Philippines with an index of 9.46. All this weaponry that’s available in the US market equips mass rampage killers, terrorists and murderers with a simple need to kill a disliked person.

Some sociologists and psychiatrists have noted that the level of violence that’s very prevalent among today’s youth could have been the fruit of the seeds that were planted by violent TV episodes, violent movies and even more violent video games. Even at pre-school age, kids have already been exposed to violent cartoons on TV like Tom and Jerry and The Road Runner. American society reaped what it sowed.

My experience as a TV programmer gave me a ringside seat to the development of more violent content in movies and in television programs. Many of the TV programs that we’re fed today would not have been allowed for airing in the 1970s. Many of the violent TV shows we watched today would have been censored beyond recognition by a then censorship board that’s mandated to apply a strict policy on violence, sex and profane language.

Armida Siguion Reyna and Manoling Morato have had a long running battle on this issue, Armida for a more liberal standard. Even movies and TV episodes that are done in “good taste” could still pose damage to a child’s psyche — simply because the child is not yet prepared to appreciate “good taste” from the violence or sex scene.

The Newtown Connecticut rampage killings had presented one of the most intense outcries after a rampage-killing spree. America, with all its violent experiences, was just not ready for the rampage killing of kids below 10 years of age. Nobody is ever ready for this.

We Filipinos should learn from the American experience with guns and enforce strict gun control. Already, there are rampage killings that are happening here, the latest of which was that incident in Cavite. When liquor, drugs and guns are easily acquired in a society, the unholy mix could produce many rampage killings.

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Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.” 

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