Is America More or Less Violent Today? - U2 Feedback

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Old 06-06-2010, 02:00 PM   #1
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Is America More or Less Violent Today?

I see a paradox in modern American society. As a predominant cultural value we seem less tolerant of violence of any sort than at any other time in our history. Our children are taught that violence is never an acceptable means of solving problems, we wring our hands over bullying, corporal punishment is now considered tantamount to abuse. Yet, at the same time the level of violence in our entertainment has reached unprecedented levels. Often the same people that will vehemently argue against schoolyard violence have no problem viewing (or having their young children) view the latest slasher flick. And violence continues--gang violence, the kid killed over a pair of shoes, school shootings, serial killers--things that were unheard of generations ago. War continues, as it always has, but we are far less tolerant of high casualty counts then we once were. We are horrified by the numbers of our soldier killed in Iraq while more died in about 30 minutes of the battle of Antietam during the Civil War.

So, are we, as a society more or less violent today? What do you think?
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Old 06-06-2010, 03:10 PM   #2
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short answer - less
going by number of incidents, as a percentage in the population



I do find the tolerance for violence appalling
I can't watch Dexter, I think it is repugnant.
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Old 06-06-2010, 03:59 PM   #3
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People have always been like that-public outrage over stuff they're privately, at the very least, fascinated by. I personally would rather a teenager watch a slasher flick than the news sometimes-at least the violence in the slasher flick is all fake, nobody is actually getting hurt or killed.

I think the violence in entertainment is merely a reflection of the amount of violence going on in real life (we've had violence long before any forms of media popped up, so it doesn't make sense to say media's to blame for why society is so violent, 'cause how do you explain pre-media violence, then? What was the inspiration there?). If society over time becomes less violent, the media will eventually begin to reflect that.

I honestly don't know what the statistics are, but I'd imagine that sometimes it seems that we're more violent than we really are-not only does the media reflect the violence, but they also like to trump up how scary things are to get ratings and viewers. I imagine if the same media that was around today was around in the 1950s, it'd probably seem like violence was happening every which way you looked then, too. I'll just say that hoping we're less violent than we used to be and continuing to move in that direction.

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Old 06-06-2010, 04:31 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by maycocksean View Post
I see a paradox in modern American society. As a predominant cultural value we seem less tolerant of violence of any sort than at any other time in our history. Our children are taught that violence is never an acceptable means of solving problems, we wring our hands over bullying, corporal punishment is now considered tantamount to abuse. Yet, at the same time the level of violence in our entertainment has reached unprecedented levels. Often the same people that will vehemently argue against schoolyard violence have no problem viewing (or having their young children) view the latest slasher flick. And violence continues--gang violence, the kid killed over a pair of shoes, school shootings, serial killers--things that were unheard of generations ago. War continues, as it always has, but we are far less tolerant of high casualty counts then we once were. We are horrified by the numbers of our soldier killed in Iraq while more died in about 30 minutes of the battle of Antietam during the Civil War.

So, are we, as a society more or less violent today? What do you think?
It's not just America, though, is it. These problems you have mentioned exist in all globalised societies. Look at the recent mass shootings in the UK, Finland and Germany (it is also interesting to note the trend of increasing crime in recent decades in societies as nominally diverse as Ireland and Malaysia, for example. )

The nature of globalised societies is quite simply to atomise and alienate, as I'm pretty sure I've said on numerous occasions on here. (No-one ever listens. )

Indeed I would go as far as to say that traditional conservatives like me and anarchists have a common enemy - neo-liberal globalisation.

As for corporal punishment, I personally would not be in favour of bringing it back as there is always the risk that a small minority of teachers might abuse it, but I certainly wouldn't go so far as to make it illegal in the home, as some countries have already done.
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Old 06-06-2010, 04:37 PM   #5
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less.

crime in the US today is now lower than it has been since the mid-1960s, perhaps even earlier.

i think violence in entertainment isn't really violence, it's intensity. i think audiences demand more intensity in their entertainment, and violence is the fastest way to create intensity (just like the fastest way to create some kind of dramatic conflict is through sex). so it's lazy, and perhaps it degrades us all, and if i had kids i'd be very concerned about the violence in the media not because i fear they'd be violent but because i fear they'd simply find it upsetting, but there's no evidence that i've seen that violent media makes people more violent. look at Japan.
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Old 06-06-2010, 04:39 PM   #6
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less.

crime in the US today is now lower than it has been since the mid-1960s, perhaps even earlier.
But that's just choosing your comparison to suit your argument. The mid to late '60s was a violent and turbulent time. If America now is less violent - and I haven't seen the stats - then that's really no big achievement.
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Old 06-06-2010, 04:45 PM   #7
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But that's just choosing your comparison to suit your argument. The mid to late '60s was a violent and turbulent time. If America now is less violent - and I haven't seen the stats - then that's really no big achievement.


crime in the US peaked in the late-1980s and early 1990s at the peak of the crack epidemic. i think the murder rate in New York was at it's peak in 1981.

much of the violence in the US that grew in the 1970s and 1980s came from the riots of the late 1960s, at least in part. it's also far more complex than that.

but, yes, from my understanding, violent crime in the US is much lower now than it was 20 years ago.

just a quick look at my city: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_Washington,_D.C.

of note: violent crime incidents in 1995: 2,661.4; in 2008: 1,437.7, a decrease of 46%.
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Old 06-06-2010, 04:52 PM   #8
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Crime in the United States - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Old 06-06-2010, 05:12 PM   #9
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we live in an age where people will find data to support their argument

when I was in school in the 70's we would have to go to a library and get more credible reference sources

these days anyone can seek out supporting evidence

wiki is very unreliable

from that wiki site;

http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/dataonline/...atebyState.cfm

that suggest murder rate is down. 5.4 lowest it's been since 1966

robbery rate went up, drug related?

these are reported crimes to FBI?
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Old 06-06-2010, 05:25 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by maycocksean View Post
I see a paradox in modern American society. As a predominant cultural value we seem less tolerant of violence of any sort than at any other time in our history. Our children are taught that violence is never an acceptable means of solving problems, we wring our hands over bullying, corporal punishment is now considered tantamount to abuse. Yet, at the same time the level of violence in our entertainment has reached unprecedented levels. Often the same people that will vehemently argue against schoolyard violence have no problem viewing (or having their young children) view the latest slasher flick. And violence continues--gang violence, the kid killed over a pair of shoes, school shootings, serial killers--things that were unheard of generations ago. War continues, as it always has, but we are far less tolerant of high casualty counts then we once were. We are horrified by the numbers of our soldier killed in Iraq while more died in about 30 minutes of the battle of Antietam during the Civil War.
Interesting stuff, Sean.

I don't think America is any more or less violent than it used to be. It's just with the rise of the Internet and sites like Youtube, with 24/7 cable news, with 'embedded' reporting during war...we are all much more aware of the suffering that goes on in the world. It feels closer to home. If someone wanted to know how the Israeli flotilla raid really went down, you can have video footage at your fingertips in about 3 seconds. Airplanes crashing into skyscrapers? About 3 seconds.

And somehow most of us have been able to draw a distinction between the 'real' stuff, and the commercialization of violence that we can't seem to get enough of. I'm thinking of the opening scene of NCIS every week, movies like the Saw series, popular rap lyrics, realistic WWII shooter games like Call of Honor, etc. Humans will always have a dark, aggressive side...maybe we just prefer to express it digitally these days.

Gang violence and public shooting sprees tie in somewhere here, I'm just not sure where Violence as entertainment is being marketed harder than ever, and I'm certainly not suggesting that most of it be censored. But maybe it sets off some of these mental cases that society has always had.
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Old 06-06-2010, 09:47 PM   #11
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Interesting responses so far. I don't really have any answers to my questions--I'm just ruminating on the topic, really--and I don't have any particular agenda regarding media violence or anything. I just thought it would be an interesting topic to discuss--and so far at least, it is.

I think there's something in human beings that has always found violence entertaining. I know when I was a kid my siblings and I found ways to play "war" and "cops and robbers" even though my mom wouldn't let us own toy guns or watch violent films. I still love laser tag or any kind of war type games. I guess in the old days, people got their violence kicks by actually going off to fight in the wars (and the really sick ones that today would be serial killers just became really great warriors?). So in that sense it's perhaps better that we redirect our violent tendencies towards violent movies and shooter games where no one actually gets killed?
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Old 06-06-2010, 10:02 PM   #12
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I think there's something in human beings that has always found violence entertaining. I know when I was a kid my siblings and I found ways to play "war" and "cops and robbers" even though my mom wouldn't let us own toy guns or watch violent films. I still love laser tag or any kind of war type games. I guess in the old days, people got their violence kicks by actually going off to fight in the wars (and the really sick ones that today would be serial killers just became really great warriors?). So in that sense it's perhaps better that we redirect our violent tendencies towards violent movies and shooter games where no one actually gets killed?
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I think there's something in human beings that has always found violence entertaining
Hmmm. Or maybe there's something in young male human beings that finds violence appealing.

I remember re-enacting the Heysel stadium riots ( Heysel Stadium disaster - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) with a few friends. We just got together an arsenal of plastic coshes and just fucked them at each other across someone's garden. I remember seeing the riots live on tv - and it was genuinely distressing, but I have to admit, it was also compulsive viewing - but re-enacting them a few days later was hilarious, one of my happiest childhood memories. I got nasty cut on my head from the sharp end of a cosh - and that also, was hilarious. It was a proud moment - the scars of battle.

I would argue that the normal and natural tendency for young males to play fight is much, much less harmful that the cynical designs of the military industrial complex. A bunch of immensely wealthy, elderly white male, Anglo-Saxon bastards sitting around tables deciding how the world should be run - most of whom have never come close to fighting in an actual war - this is much worse than the violence committed by any soccer hooligan, drug dealer, crack addict, serial killer, etc.
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Old 06-06-2010, 10:19 PM   #13
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America is much more violent today.
Not because of guns, but a lack of morality.

Interesting article about the myth of violence in the Old West:
Old West violence mostly myth
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Old 06-06-2010, 10:44 PM   #14
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America is much more violent today.
Not because of guns, but a lack of morality.
This is based on?

Why is it that those that are looking at studies are not agreeing with this?
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Old 06-06-2010, 10:53 PM   #15
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America is much more violent today.
Not because of guns, but a lack of morality.
Define "morality".
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