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Response to PUNISHER #1 Review

Another response to my PUNISHER #1 review:

>> Fools? Wasted their money? <<

Talk to me when you're, oh, about 15 years older, bud. Tell me if you like this comic then.

Even action star Sylvester Stallone, in a Parade interview at age 54, said, "Blazing guns hold very little allure for me now." If his attitude changed, I suspect yours will too.

>> Geez, Rob, I think your sister was right. You are an elitist. <<

My sister? I don't remember her saying that. It must have been someone else.

>> Who are you to say what someone should or shouldn't enjoy? <<

I'm not preventing anyone from enjoying whatever they please. I'm just enjoying myself by labeling them according to my tastes. As is my right under the First Amendment.

>> Oh yeah, never mind the lack of supervision by the parents who refuse to teach their kids that stuff like this is for entertainment <<

In the same 15 years, I hope you'll also tell me how well you, unlike other parents, have your kids under control. Meanwhile, I've never said violence in the media is the whole problem. In fact, I've explicitly said it isn't.

But it is a big part of the problem and it's something we can affect—unlike individual parents. Unless you have some solution for mandating good parenting, that is. If so, let's hear it.

>> If violence in music, TV, movies, etc. are to blame, then why doesn't every kid/teen/young adult who is exposed to it start shooting up schools and the like? <<

This is such an old argument. I addressed it about four months ago in Indian Comics Irregular, among other places. I addressed it with one or more of my correspondents. I may have addressed it with you.

The short answer is that media violence doesn't cause violence directly. It does so indirectly, by desensitizing people to violence. That makes everyone a little more aggressive than they need to be—a little less compassionate toward others.

If media violence makes people less sensitive to others, it may push a few people on the border over the line. IOW, the only people it affects directly are those on the edge. Unfortunately, there are and will always be people on the edge.

My counter-question to you is: If the media has no effect on people's beliefs or actions, why does anyone spend a dime on advertising? Are you really prepared to claim our entire capitalist system, the one based on marketing and advertising, doesn't work the way everyone thinks it does? I look forward to that argument. Really. Best of luck.

Other counter-questions include:

Using the same "logic" you used to blame the parents, you must necessarily blame the grandparents for not raising the parents correctly. And the great-grandparents for not raising them correctly. And so forth and so on. I guess the first molecule of life is ultimately response for the first violence in life, eh?

Wow, that argument is a real prescription for solving the problem—not. No, actually, it looks like a prescription for ducking responsibility for the parts we can address, like violence in the media.

>> The few who do crack, well...blame the parents. <<

I do to the extent they're guilty. Which isn't that far. You seriously expect your parents to know your every innermost thought? Mine didn't, yet they were pretty much your classic set of parents from the "Leave It to Beaver" generation.

To give you an idea of how little they knew, I could've been gay and they wouldn't have known. I occasionally wondered if they did think that. Did your mother know all about you—when you got your first tattoo, for instance? Did she know the moment you lost your virginity? Sure she did.

>> If they can't see the warning signs that their kid(s) may fall off the deep end and do something like the Columbine shootings (and there's no way there aren't warning signs) <<

I've read and heard many stories of parents who didn't know when their children were about to commit suicide. Almost every time, in fact, or the parents would've acted. So all those parents are rotten parents?

Many of them would punch you in the nose if you suggested it. But go ahead and try. Tell every single grieving parent that he or she caused his child's death or abuse or jail term by not trying hard enough. Let me know the results.

Anyway, if enough parents are as rotten as you suggest, it becomes the de facto norm in society. That is, it becomes a condition you accept because it's too universal to change. Then you're left to deal with the more tractable problems, the ones you can change. Like violence in the media.

>> The Punisher, Marylin Manson, Itchy & Scratchy, and the like, aren't to blame. Parents are. <<

Right. And guns don't kill people, people kill people. Thank you, Mr. Slogan. Nevertheless, if you took guns out of the hands of people, people without guns wouldn't kill like people with guns do.

Any solution that works is better than nothing. Until you come up with a plan to improve parenting so kids learn to avoid emulating violence—as they learn in places like Japan—I'll continue to advocate reductions in violence. Self-imposed reductions, that is.

Because that's a real solution to a real problem. It's shifting the cultural paradigm to where it is in other countries. To a place where irresponsible writers like Ennis don't implicitly encourage everyone to be a little more aggressive.

>> I disagree almost completely <<

Really? I'm not sure how you could. Can you cite any examples of three-dimensional character development, for instance? I'd love to hear all the examples I apparently missed. Are you prepared to argue that the entire psychological profession doesn't know what it's talking about? Wow, and people say I'm arrogant. <g>

>> I'm just a fool who wasted my money. <<

Gee, try not to take the review personally. I didn't direct it at you. Besides, I edited that line out in the "final" version. I didn't want to offend anyone. <g>


P.S. Researchers have studied the effects of parenting on children just as they've studied the effects of violence on children. They've found that parenting is just one of many influences on a child, just as I've said. To see how superficial the "parents are to blame" theory is, click here.

More on blaming parents
"Even Howard Stern would have totally approved."
The "responsibility lies with the parents of this nation."
Are Grossman's conclusions based on his own testimony?
"You're not addressing the real problem: parental apathy."

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Original text and pictures © copyright 2007 by Robert Schmidt.

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