Commerce Committee Chair Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) said he was going to re-introduce a bill instructing the National Academy of Sciences to study the effects of violent programming and video games on children, and he has assembled a bipartisan group of co-sponsors to make good on his promise.
Joining Rockefeller are Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Dean Heller (R-NV), and Tom Coburn (R-OK).
“I’m reintroducing my bill to study the effect that violence in media and video games has on our children’s well-being because Congress should do everything we can to address gun violence,” said Rockefeller. “We need comprehensive policies to fully protect our communities. This study is an important element of this approach. I’ve been working closely with Senate leadership and my colleagues to make sure that research like this is a priority, and I’m glad that the President’s plan includes additional research into the link between violent content and children’s behavior.”
Heller added, “The reality is we are living in an increasingly violent culture which, when coupled with mental illness, can create a very dangerous situation. This bill is a step in the right direction towards better understanding the effects of violence on children, and I look forward to the recommendations that result from this report.”
Johanns also weighed in, saying, “In order to have an honest discussion about violence and how to best prevent it in the future, we need to examine the underlying causes of these actions. Our kids are routinely exposed to movies, television and video games that glorify violence and allow them to simulate violent acts. This legislation will allow us to study what, if any, impact this exposure has on our youth, and if it encourages or desensitizes our children to the real-life consequences of violence.”
RBR-TVBR observation: OK, a show of hands. How many of you have seen one version of another of Shakespeare’s Hamlet? Quite a few, quite a few.
OK, next question: How many of you have murdered your brother, married his wife and plotted to murder your new stepson? Hmmmm….anybody? Nope, no hands are up.
As we have stated previously, we have no objection to studying media violence. But we note that many such studies have been done in the past, and we know of no conclusive evidence that provide a link – and if there was one that was provided a crystal clear link, you can bet your bottom dollar that some watchdog would be jumping up and down and waving it in our faces.
So study it. And if you are in the creative community, we would recommend a little soul searching as to how and why there are violent elements in your content. But do not let a media witch hunt distract us from other more direct causes of violence.