Reason TV on George Will Column

December 3, 2010 -

Reason TV takes a crack at conservative columnist George Will's recent editorial in the Washington Post about the the parallels between current the concerns about violent video games before the Supreme Court and the controversy over comic books in the 1950s. In the column Will also mentions past crusades against media that would turn our children into all manner of depraved deviants including ragtime music, 'penny dreadful' novels, jazz, 'penny theatres,' radio, movies, rock 'n' roll, rap, TV, and the Internet.

Reason TV leans Libertarian, so it defends the rights of gays to serve in the military and get married with the same fervor that it defends free speech, the legalization of drugs, and less government. In the excerpt below, the author agrees that it is the same old argument from these types of crusaders, but they may be coming from places you might on expect:

Critics of violent video games, of course, insist they are nothing like those fuddy-duddies who worried about comic books, crime novels, and Elvis Presley's hips. They say this medium, unlike all those others, really is so radically and alarmingly new that different legal standards should apply to it (an argument that provoked a skeptical response from Justice Antonin Scalia).

He goes on to quote a 1956 Rhode Island law that was submitted as precedent by lawyers for the state of California to the Supreme Court (PDF):

It is hereby declared that the publication, sale and distribution to minors of comic books devoted to crime, sex, horror, terror, brutality and violence, and of pocket books, photographs, pamphlets, magazines and pornographic films devoted to the presentation and exploitation of illicit sex, lust, passion, depravity, violence, brutality, nudity and immorality are a contributing factor to juvenile crime, a basic factor in impairing the ethical and moral development of our youth and a clear and present danger to the people of the state.

The author ends his article by taking issue with Will's concern for the "coarsening of the culture," and noting that it is becoming hard to tell the difference between the social conservatives of the left and the social conservatives of the right.

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Re: Reason TV on George Will Column

Kind of a misleading headline and article here.  Will's column is anti-censorship, and the Reason TV column is mostly about agreeing with him.  The only part they seem to take issue with at all is that Will blames it on progressives, but that accounts for all of one or two sentences in the whole Reason TV article, and it's tame enough that it's arguable whether they are even trying to criticize him.  I'm not sure how or why you felt the need to try to twist it around to make it seem as if they are at odds.

Re: Reason TV on George Will Column

And how exactly does that make "Reason TV on George Will Column" a misleading headline?

Re: Reason TV on George Will Column

While I think he did a good job of giving an overview of the past moral panics, his attempt to paint it in political terms misses a critical point.

The problem with the 'progressive vs conservative' meme is it is a false comparision in today's political landscape, as it was back then.  The 'progressives' from the 50s he is trying to equate with the 'progressives' of today were social concervatives, similiar today's soical concervatives who are actually retro-progressives.

In other words, today's conervatives ARE progressives.... he is using popular labels for groups to try to connect people who are not connected, which is dishonest at best.

Re: Reason TV on George Will Column

"The 'progressives' from the 50s he is trying to equate with the 'progressives' of today were social concervatives"

Some were, but I don't think it's reasonable to say Wertham was socially conservative -- see my comments above about his extremely important work in pushing for desegregation.

Of course, all that does is point out that people are too complex to apply simple labels to.  Wertham was a complex guy -- he deserves every ounce of derision he gets, but he did a lot of good, too.

Re: Reason TV on George Will Column

Exelent point, and a good one to remember.... one can always be concervative, liberal, progressive, etc, on an issue by issue basis.

Re: Reason TV on George Will Column

If culture stops changing over time it is either dead or near death, humanity dose not have the maturity and will power to sustain anything for long.


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Re: Reason TV on George Will Column

"The author ends his article by taking issue with Will's concern for the "coarsening of the culture," and noting that it is becoming hard to tell the difference between the social conservatives of the left and the social conservatives of the right."

Indeed; Will's parallel to the media scapegoating of yesteryear is well-thought-out, but blaming it all on progressives is silly.  Yes, Wertham was a progressive, but the Board on Juvenile Delinquency was a bipartisan panel.  Similarly, as we've often noted here, there are defenders and critics of video game legislation on both sides of the partisan divide today.

(Tangentially, smearing Wertham for his progressive politics is problematic.  While he has gone down in history as a villain -- and rightly so, of course -- for his anti-comic witch hunts, he was also an important voice in the civil rights movement.  I find it sad that he chose to tarnish his legacy with the serious harm he did to free speech and to an entire American art form; if he hadn't done it we would probably remember him as the man whose research led to the end of school segregation.)

Re: Reason TV on George Will Column

While you are right that there are critics of violent games on both sides, I find it funny that the conservative ones are all parts of nutty extremist groups, and the liberal ones are all career politicians.

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Re: Reason TV on George Will Column

Yeah, the Utah House is pretty liberal, I hear.


 
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