5) Ban assault media: get serious about banning or seriously limiting violence in all forms of entertainment from gaming to TV to movies to music. Federal law. Just as the gun and abortion lobbies won’t admit their all-or-nothing positions are indefensible, so, too, do we see big media trotting out its statistics-driven lies so it doesn’t have to change a thing, either. “Media violence has no effect on actual violence.” It’s simple, really; as media advertising sales representatives tell every potential advertiser: advertising works. The only reason the media exist is because they persuade advertisers to pay billions (total global advertising market: approximately $600 billion) for the privilege of exposing we, their target market(s), to advertising messages. As we know, they often run the same ad over and over and over. Why? Because repeated exposure to messages causes human beings to take action. In the case of media advertising, the action is most often to buy something or sign up for something.
Now consider that Nielsen — the media measurement conglomerate whose audience figures the media are happy to use when it means justifying them charging higher prices for advertising — offers these figures on televised violence:
- Number of murders seen on TV by the time an average child finishes elementary (!) school: 8,000
- Number of violent acts seen on TV by age 18: 200,000
- Americans who believe TV violence helps precipitate real-life mayhem: 79%
If repeated exposure to advertising causes a percentage of those who consume the advertising to take purchasing actions, it follows that repeated exposure to violence causes a percentage of those who consume the violence to take violent actions. We cannot continue to allow the media to continue to walk away from its part in the culture of violence. Instead, they should proud to be part of the solution. Under my plan, they will be.
6) Restrict media mentions of the names of those who perpetrate mass shootings. Federal law (Federal Communications Commission). I am not certain what precise form this law should take because I am unsure how to execute it while still allowing the media to perform its function of informing the public. What I do know for certain is that in an age where the media are careful to never show us a streaker at a sporting event, to avoid giving them attention and encouraging copycats; and where, for example, most sportscasts won’t even show us two players fighting for fear of “encouraging violence” — a solution absolutely exists with regard to not glorifying these killers. My suggestion is to allow each media outlet one mention of the killer’s name and then simply refer to him on all subsequent mentions as simply the gunman or perpetrator or whatever other euphemism they like. (In my perfect world: “the evil, murdering scum who is headed straight to hell.”)
“Newtown calls for new answers” is a five-part blog series, each of which focuses on specific areas I believe we must address, together, to help stem the rising tide of violence in America.