Time for a conversation about violence in our culture

The recent shooting of 20 children and six teachers in Connecticut saddens but also shamed me — a retired U.S. Foreign Service Officer and lifelong Juneau resident — now living and working in Thailand. How can anybody defend the sale of an automatic war weapon, such as a version of the M16 Army rifle, to a private citizen together with hundreds of rounds of ammunition with large clips to hold them and use in mass fire. This weapon has no place in legitimate sport or hunting. It was designed to kill lots of people. However, banning the sale of such a weapon, as much as it would be desirable, would, I think, not stop similar tragedies. An insane mass murderer could simply use a knife or ax; as was recently done at a Chinese school and not for the first time. The main cause of these tragedies are in our culture. The entertainment industry promotes war games and extremely violent movies, readily accessible to our youngsters as one of their major entertainment vehicle. Look at the current movie adds in the local newspaper. How much do you see has to do with guns and mayhem. In Bangkok it is about 50 percent. Computer games are not much better. Much of this material comes from America and is exported all over the world. President Obama has already opened the door to much overdue discussion of rational gun control. He should also take a stand on violence in film and in computer games which, many educators feel, are an even more important factor in forming sick minds to commit violence.

Henry Wilde, M.D.

Professor, Faculty of Medicine

Chulalongkorn University

Bangkok, Thailand

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