I’ll compromise if entertainment folks do likewise
To the editor:
One hears a lot recently about gun control. It is natural. No one can be unmoved about the killings in Connecticut. I am not ashamed to say I cried when I saw the pictures of those little kids — just thinking about the violent way they died still brings tears. So it is natural to want to do something to try to prevent such violence. And I suppose it is natural to focus on the instrument of the violence: the guns. If we can make them harder to obtain it would make us feel good — we at least have done something.
But I wonder if focusing on the instruments of violence (the guns) alone is the only way to prevent such events. I suggest we should focus at least as much effort on protecting our children’s mind environment, particularly the proliferation of visual violence our children are exposed to everyday and everywhere.
I refer specifically to the violence of video games and TV shows and on the Internet. Are some of our children becoming desensitized to violence by years of such exposure? Most kids know the difference between fantasy and reality, and will never resort to violence with or without access to guns. But those are not the kids we worry about. We worry about those very few who for some reason might be attracted to violence. You will notice, of course, that those crying for gun controls seldom mention any controls on our children’s environment.
I also notice we have managed to eliminate the violence we used to see in Bugs Bunny and Road Runner cartoons for 2- and 3-year-old kids, but have allowed all sorts of really, really violent video games and TV movies for older children. Does this make any sense?
I own guns, including a fast-firing, semi-automatic. I assure you I am not a threat to anyone, except those who might try to harm me or my family. And I keep them unloaded and locked up whenever children are around, as most responsible gun owners do. It should be one of the gun-control laws.
As a long-time gun enthusiast, I am reluctant to favor any restrictions on my gun rights. But I am also a political realist. I will support restrictions on guns and high-capacity magazine gun clips, but if, and only if, there is an equal effort to control the visual violence to which our children are exposed.
I am willing to compromise some of my gun rights to accomplish such. Is it unreasonable to expect an equal effort at our children’s environment to try to prevent them from becoming killers? Should we not spend as much effort on the kids as we do the guns? If we can eliminate Bugs Bunny cartoon violence, why do we allow our older children to kill people in video games every day after school?
Gun control advocates are fond of asking “why does anyone need a weapon capable of firing 30 bullets in 15 seconds?” They are right. That’s a good question. But I ask, “Why do our children need video games to practice their killing skills?” Why is my question never discussed on the nightly news?
I can hear it now. We cannot restrict Hollywood’s right to free speech because of the protections of the Constitution’s 1st Amendment. In my humble opinion, if we can make restrictions to the 2nd Amendment, we can also make restrictions under the 1st Amendment. Taking away any rights under the Constitution is a slippery slope and should only be done with great care. These two issues, gun control and visual violence marketed to children, may well be worthwhile exceptions. I would also include pornography control in that category.
What say you?
Still time for us to mend our wicked ways
To the editor:
USA Today ran a full-color picture of two men dressed in tuxedos kissing on the altar of First Baptist Church in Seattle, Washington, the day after homosexual marriage was legalized in that state. This is not political correctness. This is public immorality. But it is the same old story: God hates the sin but loves the sinner.
In a very old book we find the following: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination ... defile not yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you. And the land is defiled: therefore, I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.” Leviticus 18:22, 24-25
You say this sounds like hate speech. These are God's words, and he does not hate, but he loves. God is Love. Like a parent who corrects his children, he does so in love.
He transcends time and all cultures. He is a God of judgment.
Fortunately for our nation, he is also a God of mercy, according to Chronicles: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land …”
At the time of Ronald Reagan's second inauguration, Paul Harvey News carried that the president wanted us to know that he would take his oath of office with his hand placed upon his mother's Bible open to II Chronicles 7:14 because he thought it was the message to our nation at that time. May I respectfully proffer that President Reagan was right. It is the message to our nation now more than ever.
R. Martin Palmer