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In our opinion: No easy answers to end tragedies like the one at Sandy Hook

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  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Jan. 8, 2013 7:05 a.m.

    Do ultra violent movies and video games turn normal people into insane killers? Unlikely. But what if the person is already in an unhealthy mental state? Do such movies and videos have a reinforcing effect on already unhealthy thoughts? Likely so.

    We have an entire industry built on influencing human behavior with brief imagery (advertisements). Yet some believe that we can subject ourselves to hour after hour (day after day) of the most violent imagery and remain unscathed? How is such a dichotomy possible?

    But this is a topic that borders on the moral. Something that our society is less and less tolerant of. Morality is to be a private issue. One that never moves into the public sphere. But the actions of those so affected are already in the public sphere.

    Please understand that I do not believe this is the only cause nor that eliminating it would be a full cure. Far from it. We need better mental health options, stronger family structures, and a serious discussion on guns to name just a few. But the violence in our culture has to be part of the discussion. Otherwise we are just hiding our heads in the sand.

  • Kim Cedar Park, Texas
    Jan. 8, 2013 8:43 a.m.

    Fark.com is using a common debate tactic used to discredit the other side by taking your opponents position and pushing it to an extreme or exaggerated level. This is common, especially when you are debating from a weak position. Violence in our culture does not originate in movies, but it most certainly reinforced by them. It is ironic that most movie celebrities are not inhibited by a lack of knowledge in expressing political and moral opinions. However, they exhibit a huge moral blind spot in their lack of criticism of the moral implications of extreme violence in their profession.

  • IndependentlyIndependent South Jordan, UT
    Jan. 8, 2013 8:46 a.m.

    I couldn't agree more with this editorial. Thank you, Deseret News Editorial Board, for being brave enough to "muddle through and try to cobble together piecemeal approaches to an intractable problem." Your pragmatic and thoughtful approach might not come with sparks and glitter that more politicized, one-size-fits-all approaches have, but it is the only kind of thinking that's going to get this nation any closer to policy that reduces violent crime. The hypocrisy runs deep on all sides of this argument. It's time for our nation to drop the rhetoric and "muddle" through this.

  • IndependentlyIndependent South Jordan, UT
    Jan. 8, 2013 8:46 a.m.

    I am a Film Major at the University of Utah, and I have seen and enjoyed many of Quentin Tarantino's films. I think he's a great filmmaker. But after the shootings this past year, I won't be seeing any more of his films. Nor will I be playing any more video games that glorify shooting people, though that eliminates about half of them. I won't miss them. As "Twin Lights" said, ultraviolent media will never turn me into an insane killer, but it would be dangerous to think that such media doesn't have a reinforcing effect on already unhealthy thoughts.

  • 1aggie SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Jan. 8, 2013 9:02 a.m.

    The gun industry has partnered with the entertainment media (video games etc) to promote its products, which should give those of us in favor of more regulation something to think about.

    But the news media plays a big role in how these types of tragedies are covered. Clearly these people are seeking attention and are mostly on suicide missions (the heavily protected Aurora shooter might be an exception). I think the news media should adopt some different standards--such as a blackout of the perpetrator's name and image--indefinitely, 30 days, whatever. We need to deny these disturbed people the fame and attention they seek in their final desperate acts.

  • Mukkake Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 8, 2013 9:49 a.m.

    [On that score, it seems we succeeded.]

    These are the same tired arguments we've heard since Columbine. No, it isn't a discussion, just an argument. People blame the thing they dislike. If you dislike guns; it's gun. If you dislike violent media; it violent media. If you dislike the healthcare system, it's the healthcare system.

    Maybe people just need to grow up and admit there is nothing that could have been done about what happened. It's gonna happen again and there's nothing to stop it.

    And no, just trying a bunch of stuff is never a good idea. Chances are they'll just mess things up further. I'd rather the devil I know, than the one I don't.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Jan. 8, 2013 10:04 a.m.

    Wow, I’m actually a bit stunned by the wisdom of this editorial. Thank you DN for not being cynical and pandering and for treating your audience like grownups. We should indeed have a national conversation about this complex issue and not settle for any one-sided easy fix answers simply meant to appease a constituency.

    Just like a house is not built with any one tool or material, neither is a killer. Everything that goes into shaping the mind and intention of the individuals that shot up Colorado and Newtown should be part of our conversation. That said, I think the answers are more likely to be found by looking at what we put into our brains rather than the tools we put in our hands, but sadly it is arguably simpler to ban a class of “tools” than to address our entire culture.

  • Midvaliean MIDVALE, UT
    Jan. 8, 2013 10:06 a.m.

    Deseret News failed at creating useful dialog. I have to agree with Mukkake, this just created an argument. Its pretty clear that violence is not created by art (whatever medium you want to use). Violence predates human history. It's primal and animalistic.
    We cannot legislate evil people anymore than we can penalize raw stupidity. Its just one of those things in life.
    The answer is to be the best parent you can be. Teach your kids right from wrong, and be involved. Not everything can be controlled, not everything should be.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Jan. 8, 2013 10:12 a.m.

    Re: "No easy answers to end tragedies like the one at Sandy Hook"

    That's just a regurgitation of the liberal excuse for not letting this crisis go to waste, advancing the freedom-robbing liberal agenda across as wide a front as possible.

    There actually IS a simple solution to tragedies like the one at Sandy Hook. And it's being applied here in Utah.

    It's to train willing teachers and staff to carry concealed and be ready to respond defensively in emergencies.

    This measure will not only provide a pool of trained responders, it will send notice that schools are no longer defenseless free-fire zones, deterring disturbed miscreants from choosing schools.

    This solution, narrowly tailored, both to directly address the actual problem, and to leave important freedoms intact, is not only the sole workable solution, it's the sole legal solution.

    Advancing liberal "solutions" that infringe legal rights of the insane or gun rights of the law-abiding not only fails to address the problem, it assures centuries of bitter litigation and resulting inaction on this issue.

  • KJB1 Eugene, OR
    Jan. 8, 2013 11:01 a.m.

    You're correct that there isn't one single answer to this, but you seem to be going out of your way to ignore the fact that part of that solution has to include common sense restrictions on automatic weapons. Demonizing Quentin Tarantino won't change that.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Jan. 8, 2013 12:03 p.m.

    @ Twin Lights
    Excellent comments by the way – both on advertising and morals.

    You touched on a problem that might be universal which is that our “solutions” to one problem inevitably create new problems. Not to get all preachy, but in our long overdue efforts to rid our societies of ecclesiastical authority and religious tyranny, we not only removed religion from the public square (a good thing in my view), but we unfortunately threw out objective morality as well.

    Moral relativism, which does away with common standards and relegates useful emotions like shame and guilt to jokes about parochial school, is our new problem.

    We need to stop being afraid of calling out bad behavior and even harmful influences. Morality is objective (thank you evolution!) and can be embraced without having to believe in myths and magic. If our society cannot do this, things are likely to get worse. Or we may become overtly & publicly religious and have to deal with old problems yet again (see pre-Enlightenment Europe or most Muslim countries today).

  • Eric Samuelsen Provo, UT
    Jan. 8, 2013 12:03 p.m.

    The argument that violent art leads to violent behavior goes all the way back to Plato, who got it wrong too. There simply is no evidence to support the notion that violent movies lead to violent behavior. To compare movie imagery to advertizing is a false comparison--ads are trying to get you to do something positive, purchase a product. Movies aren't trying to get you to behave violently. Movie imagery is cathartic; it sates human atavism, gives it a harmless outlet. Movies and violent FPS type video games both reduce the tendency towards violence. At least there is a direct correspondence between the prevalence of violent entertainments and statistical reductions in actual violence.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Jan. 8, 2013 12:49 p.m.

    Tyler D

    Thank you and I agree with your sentiments about moral relativism and the removal of morals from the public square (in much of the media, all religious folks are portrayed as idiots with stunted mental capabilities).

    Reference myths and magic. I do not consider what I believe to be either. There need be no conflict between religion and science. Or with a free society. Much of our history mirrors this. The fight has gone into overdrive recently.

    Eric Samuelsen,

    You know I respect your opinions but that you and I diverge here. Art in the days of Plato had little in common with the total immersion realism of today.

    Let me ask you a question. Do you think that a therapist treating someone with significant violent tendencies would recommend a diet of hyper violent movies and videos?

    Agreed that movies and video games are not TRYING to get us to behave violently, but might that not be the result at least for the most vulnerable minds? Does hard pornography (for which similar arguments can be made) have no sexualizing effect on ANY of those using it?

    BTW, not all ads are positive. Think politics.

  • There You Go Again Saint George, UT
    Jan. 8, 2013 1:44 p.m.

    "...There actually IS a simple solution to tragedies like the one at Sandy Hook. And it's being applied here in Utah.

    It's to train willing teachers and staff to carry concealed and be ready to respond defensively in emergencies...".

    Simple solutions...

    Train willing teachers to...

    carry concealed killing machines...

    as well as be ready to respond defensively with a concealed killing machine...

    in emergencies...of course.

  • hbk72777 charlotte, NC
    Jan. 8, 2013 2:28 p.m.

    I still haven't heard a response for the following questions;

    What video games did Genghis Khan play?

    What was Napoleon's favorite action movie?

    How many role-playing sessions finally set off Vlad the Impaler?

    These names have become mythical, but the were very real. Man has been violent by nature since the dawn of time. Nothing will ever change that.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Jan. 8, 2013 3:04 p.m.

    Re: "There simply is no evidence to support the notion that violent movies lead to violent behavior."

    Yeah, tell that to those who've lost family members to disturbed people either imitating, or trying to impress or address perceived slights of fictional movie characters, including the latest in a long series -- the Joker of Aurora.

    While those in the soft sciences may have yet to prove the hypothesis, it's pretty clear to real people that there's a causal link. And, I suspect some of the worst of these "artists" will shortly wake up to a court summons, and be required to address the consequences of their actions.

  • m.g. scott LAYTON, UT
    Jan. 8, 2013 3:13 p.m.

    Isn't it ironic that at the core of much of this discussion is a conflict between the 1st Amendment and the 2nd Amendment.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Jan. 8, 2013 3:29 p.m.

    @Twin Light

    Poor choice of words on my part… should have said something like “without having to believe anything on insufficient evidence.” I didn’t mean to insult your personal beliefs and apologize for the offense.

    My point was simply that I reject the view that the only way we can have objective morality is to also be religious, something religious people claim on a regular basis. We all have an evolved moral sense that does not come from religion.

    To demonstrate this, look at two passages from the Bible and ask yourself if they are morally equivalent – take Jesus preaching the golden rule and the passage in the OT that tells you to stone anyone working on the Sabbath (or breaking just about any of God’s laws). If Christians got their morality from the Bible (God’s word), these passages would be morally equal. But of course they are not and we know this because of our own moral sense.

    Moral Relativism of course has nothing to say about either of these, which in my book makes it completely bankrupt.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Jan. 8, 2013 3:44 p.m.

    Re: ". . . conflict between the 1st Amendment and the 2nd Amendment."

    There's no conflict, whatever.

    The First Amendment free-speech clause guarantees only a right to speak. NOT freedom from the consequences of that speech.

    Libel and slander laws are the perfect illustration. It's only under very narrowly limited circumstances that a person may be prohibited from speaking about someone else. But it has been the law since the founding or our Republic, that once a person has spoken, he can, and should, be called to account for the effects of it.

  • Tolstoy salt lake, UT
    Jan. 8, 2013 4:44 p.m.

    @mg scott
    I think it is ironic that those that admittedly defend their first and second amendment rights seem to think that there is no responsibility that goes with those rights.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Jan. 8, 2013 6:23 p.m.

    Tyler D,

    I was not offended but I try to keep folks from categorizing religious beliefs (not just my own) as fantasy.

    I get your point reference an evolved sense of morality. I suppose the religious rejoinder is that the moral compass is part of the divine spark. In LDS terms, it is part of the Light of Christ “the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world”.

    I know good people with well-functioning moral compasses that are not religious. However, on the world stage, societies that lack religion seem to move away from that moral compass. So I wonder if religion does not help a society keep morality developed even if all do not practice religion.

    Reference Biblical moral equivalency. That is something about which Christ was quite pointed. That the weight of some commandments exceed others.

    I do not think that moral relativism is fully bankrupt and it can be used for “minor” ethical dilemmas. For more significant problems, it is so loosely tethered that it is very easy to “wander” and end up justifying nearly any act – where most would agree that the bankruptcy is evident.

  • mark Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 2:20 a.m.

    "I try to keep folks from categorizing religious beliefs (not just my own) as fantasy."

    But, Twin Lights, much in religious belief is pure fantasy, for example the creation myth in Genesis.

    "However, on the world stage, societies that lack religion seem to move away from that moral compass."

    I would propose that some of the most immoral societies on the world stage are exactly those that embrace, whole heartedly, religion, for example the countries of the middle east that stone women, or societies that tortured and burned heretics and witches in the name of God. I would say that as we have grown away from religion our societies have become much more moral. (And no, don't use examples of communist countries to try to point to what happens when religion is banned. Those countries had much bigger problems then a lack of religion. For instance the banning of religion was one sign of one area that was wrong with those countries: control and power. They were trying to control thought.)

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Jan. 9, 2013 8:23 a.m.

    Mark,

    I am no scientist, but I think the “creation myth” works out okay if you look at six creative periods of unknown duration. See the 1986 article in the Ensign titled “Four Accounts of the Creation”. Folks who are much more science oriented than I appear to be able to make peace with the account on that basis.

    As to societies around the world. The negative situations you describe (both Muslim and Christian) are those of fundamentalism mixed with political power. Like your example of the communists, it is more about thought control than about religion. Both societies you reference are/were not open to competing religious dogma and used politics to enforce that. A lesson we in the US should take to heart.

    From D&C 134: “. . . we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.”

  • mark Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 11:25 a.m.

    "Anyone who tries to peddle easy answers on this issue isn't being helpful. . ."

    And yet when gun violence reared its head in such a gruesome way, once again, at Sandy Hook the DesNews editorial board wanted to turn the discussion to violence in movies. And now they say that there was not even anything they hoped to accomplish with it.

    "Our editorial, then, was not a call for the repeal or even the modification of the First Amendment. And it was most certainly not a claim that if the Quentin Tarantinos of the world were silenced, then violence would go away."

    They just wanted to talk about it.

    It seems that FARC was absolutely correct when they, "labeled the piece "stupid".

    It seems this holds true for the D News' entire editorial stance on this issue.

  • mark Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 11:41 a.m.

    Twin Lights, sorry, the creation myth in Genesis is pure fantasy, no matter what your religion tells you. You don't even have to be a scientist to understand this, just read the thing. I'm really sorry to break it to you, but religion is full of accounts that are absolutely fantasy.

    As far as the countries of the middle east wanting to control people, yes, that is another thing that religion is about, the control of how others think. You see this clearly in many of the middle eastern countries. And again, I'm sorry if you don't like it, but that is religion. Religion has not been, and really never is," open to competing religious dogma". At best it tolerates them. What you call the mixture of religion and politics is called a theocracy, and it is the natural condition of religion not held at bay by government.

    I'll say it again, we become a much more moral people as religion looses its sway over us. (But no, I don't think it can happen by banning religion, people have to decide for themselves that religion will not dictate their lives, nor their politics.)

  • Semi-Strong Louisville, KY
    Jan. 9, 2013 12:21 p.m.

    Mark,

    You display a degree of arrogance when you assume that I am unaware of the charges folks make against religion. A trait that serves no discussion well. To assume that you but none of the rest of us on these boards are so informed is rather short sighted.

    The citation from the D&C refutes your stance that religion can never be open to competing dogma. As to theocracy – the Muslims were once quite tolerant of competing views (to use as an example what many consider very intolerant now).

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Jan. 9, 2013 3:21 p.m.

    @ Twin Lights – “I suppose the religious rejoinder is that the moral compass is part of the divine spark… the weight of some commandments exceed others”

    Unfortunately most Christians I know don’t come at it from this angle. They typically argue that our morality (really all human truth) is spelled out in the Bible. And as I tried to point out in my example, I think this is a flawed view to say the least.

    Take the last part of your statement above – it would imply that we should follow all the commandments, yes? But is there anyone alive today who thinks it’s OK to stone your neighbor for mowing his lawn on Sunday? Or what about the “No God’s before me” commandment? Should we be stoning Hindu’s (or anyone else who doesn’t believe in the God of Abraham)?

    And I have to disagree with your comment about societies that lack religion. I’ll take Sweden (the most atheistic society) over Pakistan (the most religious) any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

  • Semi-Strong Louisville, KY
    Jan. 9, 2013 6:29 p.m.

    Tyler D

    Twin Lights here.

    I understand but I, of course, cannot account for other Christian sects. Morality may be spelled out in the scriptures but they are not its source in my view.

    Not sure to which statement of mine you are referring. Please allow me to clarify that there are some commandments more important than others (though I find few direct conflicts).

    Within the LDS context (and, I think, most Christians) the Old Testament has been replaced by the New. So the OT rules (vs. actual commandments such as the 10 commandments) no longer apply.

    Reference Sweden vs. Pakistan, I think the issue is not religion but fundamentalism mixed with political power. The politicians use the religion to exercise control. I do not see this as being the same as religious adherence.

    I view much of the morality of modern Europe as an echo from its religious past. I am not sure that successive generations will find it so.

  • ToBeReadOutLoud SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Jan. 9, 2013 9:31 p.m.

    "Re: "There simply is no evidence to support the notion that violent movies lead to violent behavior."

    Yeah, tell that to those who've lost family members to disturbed people either imitating, or trying to impress or address perceived slights of fictional movie characters, including the latest in a long series -- the Joker of Aurora."

    But that was the means, not the cause. The cause was that Holmes was mentally ill. He wasn't some normal kid who saw Batman and suddenly decided to shoot people.

    Let's look at it this way: You say banning guns is unfair to people who use guns legally. Why punish everyone for the actions of a few? We could say the same about movies. Why ban everyone from watching movies you disagree with because some crazy guy liked the Joker?

  • m.g. scott LAYTON, UT
    Jan. 10, 2013 4:35 p.m.

    To those of you who questioned my comment about the conflict with 1st and 2nd amendment, what I was alluding to was that Hollywood would never want to be held responsible for any effect their 1st amendment right to show gun violence may have on peoples behavior, yet that is exactly what the anti-gun crowd wants of gun owners. By the way, to some who believe that images Hollywood puts out don't have that effect, explain why advertising works. We just had a year of campaign ads designed cause a certain behavior. In the case of Obama, it worked.

  • Beverly Eden, UT
    Jan. 12, 2013 8:00 a.m.

    If America didn't have so many guns, we would not have so many gun deaths. It is as simple as that! In America, around 30,000 people are killed every year. Just look at a couple of recent events in our state. At Yuba like a brother accidentally shoots and kills his brother. In layton, a grandchild is accidentally killed with the grandfather's gun. Before the parents of this child can reach the airport, the grandparents have call them about this horrible event. It is not just Sandy Hook. Sandy Hook, with 20 children being executed with an assault rifle appears to be the "tipping point" in America. I sincerely hope, we can put politics aside for a moment and think about the 30,000 people that will die if we do nothing.

  • Beverly Eden, UT
    Jan. 17, 2013 7:04 a.m.

    It is hard to comprehend how the Deseret News can avoid even mentioning the progressive steps the President of the United States has taken to stop gun violence. Avoiding the critical issue of this decade is almost beyond belief. 30,000 people die each year by gun violence. Accidental death and suicides lead the list. How can you avoid mentioning the positive steps our President is taking?