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Letter: Violence in our culture

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  • Salsero Provo, UT
    Dec. 20, 2012 1:10 a.m.

    The only people who need military-style semi-automatic weaponry, large-capacity ammunition clips, and bullets designed to do maximum damage to human tissue are those who intend to eventually wage-war on other Americans who do not like them (i.e. other Americans with whom they disagree) because they cannot accept a democratically-elected leadership and have a psychotic notion that they will eventually have to wage war on their neighbors.

    These are not sportsmen, hunters or simple gun enthusiasts. These are people blinded by their paranoia that they are losing their way of life and will have to fight to keep it. It's those who are calling for secession after losing a presidential election. It's those who believe that half the population are interlopers, illegal foreigners, and not "real Americans" because they don't think the same way they do.

    If you want to have a discussion of mental illness, you have to include the psychosis of the fringe survivalists who cannot accept the democratic process and will fight for a dictatorship of themselves in order to keep change from happening and their extremist thinking relevant in today's world.

  • Kim Cedar Park, Texas
    Dec. 20, 2012 4:05 a.m.

    I agree. Over the past few decades, the US has developed a culture of violence. It permeates so much of what we see and hear. It just continues to grow worse in as entertainment purveyors try to shock us with even more horrific violence, because we have gotten used to the previous level. Until a majority of this country stands up and rejects this deluge of violence, I am afraid we have not seen the last of these horrific events. I doubt the effectiveness of laws as much as our society collectively preventing these purveyors from making a profit from what they do.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Dec. 20, 2012 6:15 a.m.

    "Among the O.E.C.D. countries that the World Bank groups as “high income,” America has the highest gun homicide rate, the highest number of guns per capita and the highest rate of deaths due to assault. In fact, America has more homicides by gun than all of the other high-income O.E.C.D. countries combined."

    The chart supporting this is in the new york times. Yes, I understand that the NYT is left leaning. Feel free to challenge the data but preferably with facts.

  • Eric Samuelsen Provo, UT
    Dec. 20, 2012 7:01 a.m.

    While I certainly share this writer's dismay over the horrific recent events, I think it's simplistic to blame video games or other kinds of media. In fact, a national reduction in violent crimes has coincided with huge increases in violent games, both in terms of availability and how graphically acts are depicted. I'd like to suggest, in fact, that such games can be cathartic; a way of safely acting out violent fantasies.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    Dec. 20, 2012 8:17 a.m.

    Blaming guns for crime is as logical as blaming spoons for causing obesity or matches causing arson. What has happened in America is the same ideology that other countries have experienced; increased dominance of the secular progressive, moral relevance (liberalism) politics. What I find incredibly sadly ironic is that Barrack Obama only recently instigated a fast and furious gun running operation to Mexico where those guns were used by drug dealers to murder perhaps dozens of innocent people and these secular progressives, who are running our country turn their hypocritical heads and hearts to claim they care deeply about protecting innocent people, not from evil, sick people but from "evil" guns! What they can't promise is that any gun control law will be obeyed by evil people. So gun laws never work, never have, never will.
    I own guns partly because there are evil people running loose who do not obey our laws against murder, rape and robbery and they certainly will not obey any gun control laws either. A gun in my hand is much better for my family and me than a cop on the phone.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Dec. 20, 2012 8:34 a.m.

    But Eric, there is sometimes a very fine line between acting out violent fantasies with a game and doing it in real time.

    When I was in 6th grade, my family lived in Austria. My father was with the U.S. occupation forces there after the war. One day some of my friends and I were playing cowboys or soldiers or something with our toy guns.

    An Austrian police car stopped and the officers took us into custody. They drove us home and explained to our parents that the Austrian people had had enough guns during two world wars. They warned us, turned us over to our parents, and confiscated our guns.

    Now I know that this post will probably bring down a rain of condemnation from those who revere guns, but maybe we should look at the murder rate in present day Austria.

  • Curmudgeon Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 20, 2012 8:58 a.m.

    Eric Samuelson:

    While I usually agree wholeheartedly with your thoughtful comments, this time I don't. To my knowledge, there is no scientific evidence to support the popular notion that aggression is cathartic (and I even wrote a paper on this topic in college, while majoring in psychology). To the contrary, studies suggest that acting out aggressively only leads to an increased tendency to repeat or increase aggressive behavior. If you have contrary information, please share it.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    Dec. 20, 2012 9:07 a.m.

    I think you're all right. What kind of society makes billions of dollars from displaying murder and mayhem, encourages its citizens to fantasize about it, has 350,000,000 million guns, and then has a health care system that locks out tens of millions of its citizens from seeking preventative mental health care?

    Life is brief, random, indifferent, and cruel by it's nature..but my word, no sane society would build this reality into their economy.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    Dec. 20, 2012 9:56 a.m.

    The letter writer fails to recognize these "young adults" --
    Whether they are shipped over seas or not --
    have all grown up now most of their lives in a constant back drop filled with
    real WAR,
    with REAL bullets
    and REAL dying.

    Most of them now have never known anything else.

    But go ahead, blame your fanatsy world of make believe.
    Deny reality all you want.

    I for one think these violent video games are more Art Reflecting Reality,
    than your belief it is reality reflecting art.

  • Midvaliean MIDVALE, UT
    Dec. 20, 2012 9:56 a.m.

    Remember the first book in the bible. I recall a story about Cain and Able. Where was the video games and television telling Cain to murder his brother? The most violent acts in history predate our internet and video games (see circa 1900-1945).
    So I agree that we should limit our children's exposure to questionable media. However, I think its good to remember a lot of media is just for fun, and it is fun. Play the blame game if you want, but ultimately personal responsibility is what governs our actions.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Dec. 20, 2012 10:41 a.m.

    Eric,

    I am afraid I disagree. If it were here and there, I might go with the cathartic argument. But that is not what I see. I see young men who play these VERY realistic first person shooter games for hours each and every day.

    James Allen's oft quoted riff on Proverbs is "As a man thinketh, so is he". I look at how I am affected form a single well done TV show, movie or play. How it can make me think and think again about something and change my mind. Surely this is something you know about well (and have probably been so affected).

    So, I find it impossible to believe that immersing yourself day after day into a world of violence (where you are "killing" the other characters in the game) has no effect on the young man. Now, what if we add to the mix a less stable mind? One that might not go off the deep end other wise but now has this steady diet of violence "solving" his problems (within the context of the game)?

    Do I think this is the only solution? No. But we must do better on this front.

  • Whos Life RU Living? Ogden, UT
    Dec. 20, 2012 10:56 a.m.

    Well if we are going to blame violent media (video games, books, music). Lets not leave the Bible or the Book of Mormon out.

    For those who are well read among these books understand that these books contain violent stories worse than any video game available in our market.

    Please be consistant with all of the media.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    Dec. 20, 2012 11:45 a.m.

    "The letter writer fails to recognize these "young adults" --
    Whether they are shipped over seas or not --
    have all grown up now most of their lives in a constant back drop filled with
    real WAR,
    with REAL bullets
    and REAL dying."

    I disagree.

    Most of the folks in our country haven't grown up knowing REAL WAR with REAL bullets and REAL dying.

    Those are for folks who volunteer. Or for poor people who can't afford college.

    Perhaps if we reinstated the draft folks would actually learn about REAL violence, REAL war, REAL bullets, and REAL dying, and shun it.

    Look at Austria and Germany. Those peoples finally grew tired of death.

    Perhaps we need to do the same? It would keep us out of quagmires like Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. and perhaps it would teach us the value of life?

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    Dec. 20, 2012 11:54 a.m.

    Whos Life RU Living?
    Ogden, UT
    Well if we are going to blame violent media (video games, books, music). Lets not leave the Bible or the Book of Mormon out.

    =============

    I'm pretty sure those in the Bible and BoM kept things like slings, swords, cimeters, spears, arrows, ect. out of the honds of children and the mentally ill.

    The problem is we have some extremeists in this country who are so freaked out about ANY loss of "Freedom", that they throw out all common sense.
    The don't want to take "personal responsibility" or be held "accountable" for keeping them secure and out of those who can/will hurt themselves and others.

    I spent 12 years in the Military.
    He were all trained in using all sorts of "assault" weapons.
    We all passed extensive background checks.
    We all were "fit for duty" - including "mentally".

    Guess what?
    Those M-16 were all placed under heavy duty lock-and-key -- 24/7/365.

    MPs at chow had a SAFE in the dining hall during breakfast/lunch/diner.

    The problem is irresponsible Joe-Q-Public citizens.
    Leave weapons like these only accessible to those responsible and trained enough to have them.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    Dec. 20, 2012 12:06 p.m.

    One last thing --

    How do "citizens" have $1500-$2000 for a Bushmaster XM-15,
    but can't afford $399 for a 18 gun safe?

    BTW - It's called a SAFE for good reason!

    I stand by my Military training comment I posted earlier.

    That should be the very 1st question they ask on a weapons permit.
    Do you have a gun safe?

    And the 2nd should be –
    Do you ALWAYS use it?

    The 3rd should be –
    You can and will be held personally responsible for any and all crimes or accidents for the weapons in your possession.

    That’s what the mindset and responsibilities he had as soldiers.
    You know - the guys these weapons (not guns) were designed and intended to used by.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Dec. 20, 2012 12:39 p.m.

    To "JoeBlow" just because there are lots of gun owners does not correlate to gun deaths. Also, your NY Times statistic is wrong. It is the number of gun per capita, not gun owners per capita, there is a difference.

    See "Why Swiss gun love is coming under fire" in The Local. They have the highest gun ownership rates in Europe, yet have a low homicide rate. However, you can't just use gun ownership as a measure for criminal behavior because each country. If you look at gun ownership and overall homicide rates for a country, there is absolutely no correlation that more guns makes a country less safe.

    If you want to make the US safer, change the culture. If you can figure out how to unite communities into cohesive groups, you can get the change you desire. Until then you are just disarming the law abiding citizens.

    To "Open Minded Mormon" tell me what the difference is between the Bushmaster XM-15 and a Ruger Mini-14 Ranch. Why should one be banned and the other remain legal? Just because you were trained doesn't make you an expert.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Dec. 20, 2012 12:51 p.m.

    Open Minded, your comment is absolutely GREAT!

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Dec. 20, 2012 1:37 p.m.

    What's the difference between Cartel Gadiantons
    &
    WallStreet Gadiantons?

    The only difference I can tell is one is somehow considered "legal"
    the other is "illegal".

    Yet --
    They both revolve around and worship the very same things;

    $Money$,
    Guns $,
    Power $,
    and Drugs$.

    ------------------

    To "RedShirt"
    USS Enterprise, UT

    To "Open Minded Mormon" tell me what the difference is between the Bushmaster XM-15 and a Ruger Mini-14 Ranch.

    Tell me, What does it matter?
    Tell me, do you own and use a gun safe?

  • Eric Samuelsen Provo, UT
    Dec. 20, 2012 3:15 p.m.

    People on this forum who I really do respect have questioned my previous post about possible links between violent video games and subsequent violent behavior. I would simply point out that Canadian kids play violent video games, including first person shooter games, at a greater rate than American teens do, and yet behave much less violently. Dutch youth play violent video games for twice the amount of time daily as American youths do, and yet their rate of violence is much less than in America. The data simply do not support the contention that violent first person shooter games have any causative effect on subsequent behavior.
    Adam Lanza did, however, play first person shooter games. A lot. Did those games prompt his horrific violence? How could we possibly know?
    We have a violence problem in this country, and we need to solve it. Let's not jump to facile conclusions, however.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Dec. 20, 2012 3:28 p.m.

    To "LDS Liberal" so then you agree that there is nothing different between the Bushmaster XM-15 and a Ruger Mini-14 Ranch. So why should we ban the Bushmaster based on looks?

    Why does it matter to you if I own a gun safe? My kids know that guns are not toys, so I don't have to worry about it. Plus none of my kids have any psychological problems, so again, no reason to worry there.

    Why do you support those Gadiantons who are trying to take away our freedoms based on lies and innuendo. Take a look at the USA Today artlcle "Cracking Down on Law-Abiding Gun Owners Won't Prevent Crimes" if that isn't enough for you, read "Disarming the Myths Promoted By the Gun Control Lobby" in Forbes.

    Why do you and your ilk want to take guns away from the law abiding people? Why is it that your ilk are so afraid of law abiding citizens purchasing guns legally?

  • Curmudgeon Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 20, 2012 5:06 p.m.

    Eric, you might want to google "catharsis theory of aggression and violent video games." The preponderance of research suggests that aggression begets further aggression, and not just with video games. The population statistics you cite, even if they are accurate, do not prove that playing video games decreases aggression. Correlation does not prove causation, as you undoubtedly know. There are probably many factors that influence violent behavior, but a conclusion that playing violent video games reduces aggressive behavior is simply not supported.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Dec. 20, 2012 5:27 p.m.

    What causes "violence"?

    The answer is so obvious that most people miss it. Violence is caused by the person who commits that violence. He or she "chooses" to do something that most of us consider to be reprehensible. Violence, by definition, means that we have chosen to infringe on the rights of others; the right to be left alone; the right to not be molested.

    A "choice" is made. Muscles do not move until they are commanded to move. A body does not act until the "owner" of that body commands the body to act. No matter what outside influences may be present, it is the "owner" of the body who is responsible for what that body does.

    Some tell us that we are incapable of choosing our actions. I disagree. We can train ourselves to progressively commit actions that harm others. We can train ourselves to blame others; but, we are ultimately responsible for every thought and for every deed.

    We can help each other. We should help each other, but we cannot pass "laws" that will ever keep us from harming others. Laws punish us; they do not restrain us from acting.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Dec. 20, 2012 7:18 p.m.

    Eric,

    I saw a WP article disputing any link. The ten countries they used are problematic as the access to firearms is not even remotely similar among the countries and there are cultural and demographic issues that should be controlled for. Also, the study assumes similar consumption of game types (video game sales are studied rather than the sale of first person shooter games).

    I understand that my following argument is anecdotal, but I think you might find it compelling.

    I have acted in HS (decades ago) and once in community theater. When I played an angelic personality, I found that “leaking” into my real life. When I played an evil jerk, that too “leaked” into my real life. Of course, the play ended and the effects diminished. I would bet good money you have seen this same effect.

    Now, imagine you are playing that character every single day for years on end and two shows a day. Is it not possible that doing so would affect your real life?

    Again, I am not arguing that this is the only issue. Simply that it is AN issue. Clearly the discussion has to be much wider.

  • Eric Samuelsen Provo, UT
    Dec. 20, 2012 9:17 p.m.

    I know of no peer reviewed study definitively linking first person shooter games to actual violence or aggression. I understand why folks might be tempted to posit such a link, but after all, millions of young men play FPS games, and very few act violently. Can we at least agree that more research is needed?
    My friend Twin Lights: I sympathize with your experience, perhaps more than you can know. I acted professionally for years. My health forced my retirement from the stage, but I still work as a playwright, director, dramaturg and critic. And as an actor, I often played villains. I'm a very big guy, with a deep voice; my career was spent playing villains, buffoons and idiots. And I am none of those things. Acting, to me, is just . . . acting. A dramatic character is simply a fictional construct, created for the audiences amusement. I have known very prominent actors who spent their lives playing villains--some of the nicest people I know.
    I sympathize with your, very different experience. But my entire life experience persuades me that violent entertainments are not just harmless, they may do good in the world.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Dec. 21, 2012 2:56 a.m.

    Oh good grief.

    I remember about 50 years ago, my friends and I made a backyard "Frankenstein" movie.

    We made our own props, costumes, make up, and special effects - including ketshup for fake blood.

    My friends Mom called KSL to come out and do a story on us.

    When they arrive from the TV studio, we soon found out that she didn't want to show how "cute" or imaginative we were during our time of summer vacation -- but rather she wanted it to show the community the terrible effect watching Bugs Bunny and B-rated horror movies had had on our young impressional brains!

    I grew up to be such a manice to Society!

    Boo!

  • mdp1342 Unincorporated SL County, UT
    Dec. 22, 2012 8:42 a.m.

    All school violence is a direct result of video games, television and movies violence. Some massacars are forgotten, including the worst in American history. In May 1927 in Bath, Michigan, Andrew Kehoe set off bombs killing 45 students and injuring 57, becoming the worst US school massacre yet.

    I am not trying to make light of the tragedy that recently occurred, only to say that they have been around forever, and will continue forever, so long as humans are on this earth, regardless of TV, movies or video games.

    I do not play video games at all, and we do not allow our children to watch or play violent video games, but this is not because I think they will cause violence.

    It may (though I doubt) be possible that some violence is learned from violent media, but more likely people are sitting around playing video games, and watching television, or texting etc. so that they are blindly occupied with mind numbing media than to be out committing crimes.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Dec. 22, 2012 9:37 p.m.

    Kehoe's act of violence was interesting in the sense that he was much older than the recent mass murderers of school children. It was also very premeditated as over weeks he planted explosives all over the building. His"motive" was being ousted in a political position with the school district. He did use a gun to detonate some of the explosives.

    But the most recent school mass shootings seem to involve these elements: mental illness, alienation, young white males (late teens or early 20's), access to guns and ammunition (and multiple weapons) and I hate to say it Eric, mass exposure to violent video games. It would be interesting to see if some studies of the brains of these perpetrators, along with the deep psychological study of the Colorado shooter still living. I am wonder if some sort of psychotic break with schizophrenia is involved, somewhat common at this age.

  • GK Willington Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 23, 2012 12:49 p.m.

    @ Open Minded Mormon 12/20 9:56 a

    "I for one think these violent video games are more Art Reflecting Reality, than your belief it is reality reflecting art."

    Agreed. its so much easier for social conservatives to blame video games, TV/Movies, & even wrestling (ironically Linda McMahon (wife of WWE's Vince) has run as a Republican).

    The USA has always been violent or were the war for independence and wild west a giant liberal conspiracy?

  • Hank Pym SLC, UT
    Dec. 23, 2012 1:02 p.m.

    at Mike Richards 5:27 p.m. Dec. 20

    *What causes "violence"? The answer is so obvious that most people miss it. Violence is caused by the person who commits that violence.*

    Wow! Really? Seriously, this is the best strange loop/ I have EVER run across.