by Dick Rolfe, CEO - The Dove
Ever since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary
School, three groups loomed into the spotlight as the blame game began; gun
owners, the mentally ill, and filmmakers. It triggered a lot of finger pointing
by various lobbyists protecting their own constituents from government
regulation and overreach.
The National Rifle Association, defenders of
the Second Amendment, argued simply that banning assault weapons, or mega clips,
or adding a national gun owner registry would not have prevented any of the
recent mass killings. Those laws would only apply to law-abiding citizens. They
would not hinder criminals or the deranged from committing their heinous acts. A
compelling case made during the debates was that guns don’t kill…disturbed
The American Psychiatric Association stayed
below the radar during the controversy; perhaps due to the political correctness
that has shaped our societal dialog about the mentally ill. To label them
potentially “dangerous” would be an affront to our social sensitivity. Mental
health diagnoses are also wrapped in mystery, and very difficult to pin down
into nice neat categories that can predict a threat.
Another group that escaped public scrutiny was
the entertainment industry and the effects of violence in films and video games
on our social norms. The entertainment media and news media are birds of a
feather; many times owned by the same corporate parent. Twentieth Century Fox is
owned by News Corp., Disney is parent to ABC, NBC and Universal are siblings.
Warner Bros. and Time Inc. are co-dependents.
Add to that, the new head of the Motion Picture
Association of America (MPAA) is former Democratic Senator from Connecticut (the
state of Sandy Hook), Chris Dodd. In preparation for congressional discussions
about violence in movies, Dodd told The Hollywood Reporter that his industry
"will consider voluntary guidelines but will vehemently oppose any government
restrictions on content."
Since then, the MPAA, in a meager attempt to
offer a solution, modified the design of its ratings box, without adding any new
information. According to Dodd, “The rating block has a new look and makes the
descriptor box more prominent." The bottom line is there is no new information
about the violence, sex, nudity, drug/alcohol use, or profanity in a movie.
Essentially, nothing changed except the size of the box. Dove has historically
filled this information gap with its detailed content analysis included with
every movie review.
There is no clear consensus to this "cause of
violence" debate, except the universal agreement that Government cannot protect
us every minute, without onerous regulations that would greatly restrict the
freedoms we cherish. As members of an open society, we must cherish our
unalienable rights to live as free people. However, at the same time, we should
remain vigilant of our surroundings, alert to incidents or behaviors that seem
out of place.
Above all, each of us must keep our personal
values intact and contribute in some small way to a more civil society, by
recreating the wonder that Alexis de Tocqueville discovered when he observed
that, "America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good,
America will cease to be great."