Just about every election year, one or more pols attempt to curry voter favor by beating the straw man of violent/sexual/vulgar/drug-related entertainment content: WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN??? There’s Tipper, Ice T, Eminem, Columbine, Cheney, etc etc. Now this:
- Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) announced Friday he will hold a field hearing later this month in Illinois, letting citizens have their say about whether the record industry is doing enough to protect kids from violent lyrics.
The session is scheduled for Sept. 30 in Edwardsville, not even Upton’s home turf. Turns out the district is home to Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), who’s in a tight congressional race being carefully monitored by leaders of both parties.
Political operatives say Upton is doing Shimkus a political favor, since Shimkus has taken up the issue of whether the music biz should do more to protect kids. The perk for pols like Shimkus? There’s nothing like going after the entertainment biz to drum up some headlines. A witness list for the hearing has yet to be released by Upton.
Check out this report from two years ago almost to the day:
- Senators decried the level of sex and violence in movies, videos and TV shows Wednesday and warned entertainment industry executives to clean up material aimed at children or face federal regulation.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, expressed dismay at “a culture of carnage” fostered by the industry. Lynne Cheney, former head of the National Endowment for the Humanities and wife of Republican vice presidential nominee Dick Cheney, echoed many of Lieberman’s concerns about youth exposure to sex and violence.
Parents feel “locked in a losing competition with the culture to raise our children,” said Lieberman, a longtime critic of violence and sex in the media whose presence on the Democratic ticket has helped bring the issue into the campaign. The Columbine High School shootings in Colorado illustrates that the media violence children see “has become part of a toxic mix that has actually now turned some of them into killers,” Lieberman said.
….Mrs. Cheney zeroed in on the lyrics of rap star Eminem’s song “Kill You,” which describes the artist raping and killing his mother: “They could not be more despicable. They could not be more hateful.” Eminem’s album, “The Marshall Mathers LP,” is one of the hottest selling music releases. He also was a target of Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., who displayed posters in the hearing room carrying his lyrics and those of rap stars Dr. Dre and DMX. “This stuff is not for the faint-hearted,” Brownback said, “but the music industry has decided it’s for our children.”
The ACLU was not fooled by the Washington hearings of two years ago:
- Politics and punditry, not scientific research, is driving the supposed link between youth violence and popular culture, the American Civil Liberties Union said today, as a Senate committee convened hearings triggered by a government report on the issue.
The ACLU said that the report by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is based on inconclusive and refutable data, much of which does a crude job of describing a complex and poorly understood social process, and should not form the basis of public policy or lawmaking.
“Last week, the FBI cited statistics showing that school violence is at its lowest level in years; today the FTC is citing a correlation between escalating violence in the media and youth crime,” said ACLU legislative counsel Marvin Johnson. “They can’t have it both ways.”
While the report is careful to disavow any direct cause-and-effect relationship between media imagery and acts of teen violence — because none exists — it blurs the line by pointing to a “correlation” between the two.
But as the ACLU pointed out, correlation is simply two things happening in proximity: an alarm clock ringing at 6:00 a.m. can be correlated to the sunrise but it does not cause the sun to come up each day, Johnson explained. Linking the entertainment industry and violence is misleading, he said, and plays into election-year posturing.
SOS every two years – you can set your watch by the ritual. Both parties do it, and it’s a waste of time, energy, intelligence (I’m being nice), and is simply a diversion from real issues.
Push the buttons, collect the votes.