Pope takes on media content issues


Broadcasters and other media have been hearing it from watchdogs and government entities, especially since Janet Jackson helped turn up the heat back in 2004. Now Pope Benedict XVI is getting in on the act. "Any trend to produce programs and products – including animated films and video games – which in the name of entertainment exalt violence and portray anti-social behavior or the trivialization of human sexuality is a perversion, and the more repulsive when these programs are directed at children and adolescents," he said, according to Catholic Online.

Benedict said the influence of media is great. "Indeed, some claim that the formative influence of the media rivals that of the school, the church and maybe even the home." He asked the media to "Safeguard the common good, to uphold the truth, to protect individual human dignity and promote respect for the needs of the family."

Benedict did not seem to call for any sort of regulatory remedy, however, and acknowledged that there is a place in the culture for popular media. He did stress that parents have the key role in mediating between the media and their own children. "They have a right and a duty," he said, "to ensure the prudent use of the media by training the conscience of their children to express sound and objective judgments which will then guide them in choosing or rejecting programs available."

TVBR observation: The last comment comes close to echoing comments made by free speech advocates here in the US, who note that in many cases thoughtful parents may wish to expose their children to what may be borderline or even objectionable programming to some, in order to discuss and teach. We personally would worry about a child who suddenly comes into contact with the "real" world all of a sudden when they turn 18 or spend any appreciable amount of time away from home for the first time. But that is a matter for parents, not the government, and we would say that Benedict's call for parental discretion rather than government intervention is spot on.