Culture War

July 29 1999 3:00 AM

Culture War

Stop blasting Hollywood and the '60s culture for senseless killings.

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There is something in American attitudes that condones or glorifies murder, at least more so than in other countries. If we want to change that attitude, Hollywood should not be the main place we look. (Remember, most of the rest of the world watches Hollywood movies without engaging in orgies of violence.) We have to try to do something about the real world in which children are growing up. The crucial part of that world is the home where parents relate to children. What to do about that, I don't know. Probably there is little that public policy can do. But the fixations on the media and on the '60s culture do not help in the search for remedies.

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It would also help our thinking if we could avoid the "sex and violence" mantra. Sex on the screen, or the abundance and explicitness of it, has only a distant connection, if any, with the homicides that worry us. Context isn't everything, but it's worth noting that the TV channel that shows the most violence is the History Channel, with its endless replaying of World War II: I have not heard anyone say that is an encouragement to crime.

Herbert Stein, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, was chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under Presidents Nixon and Ford. He died in September 1999.