Violence is not caused by video games, rap music or any other form of entertainment that children enjoy in the modern era. It is caused by mentally troubled people who are poorly raised.
For years now, the debate has raged on whether violence among young people is fueled by violent television, music and video games. Ms. Smith’s Viewpoints article from the Feb. 21 Houstonian was the latest chapter in this ongoing discussion. The seemingly endless occurrences of school violence leave us grasping for an easy target to blame, but there is no quick fix.
What makes the current emphasis on modern entertainment more frustrating is that there are more archaic forms of entertainment that are left out of the conversation. When John Hinkley Jr. tried to assassinate President Reagan, a copy of J.D. Sallinger’s The Catcher in the Rye was found in his possession. When Mark David Chapman shot and killed John Lennon, he handed a copy of the book to police saying, “that is my statement.” To this day, The Catcher in the Rye is required reading in many high schools.
Why do we blame music and games for people’s violent behavior and dismiss a book that has served as the inspiration for multiple assassins? I believe it stems from the age-old belief that the current generation is going to “hell in a hand basket.” This is not a new concept for the 21st Century. It is simply the way people think. Conventional wisdom has always felt that whatever is new is somehow bad.
My mother was not allowed to listen to the Beatles as a child because my grandfather thought their long hair was an abomination. Now even he can laugh at the ridiculousness of that view. When I was growing up, it was The Simpsons that were going to be my downfall. Yet I recently treated my parents to The Simpson’s Movie and they laughed harder than I did.
It is silly to blame the “coarsening of our culture” for murders in our schools. It’s high time we start holding people accountable for their own actions. Parents need to do a better job of instilling in their children a sense of right and wrong. If children are equipped with the discipline and responsibility necessary to succeed in this world, perhaps they can play some Grand Theft Auto without murdering their classmates.