Monday, April 19, 2010

Violence, Bad Language, and Nudity

Photo by Publik16
I have been thinking about my prejudices lately. I can honestly say that I have changed a lot in my 40 years on the planet. When I was in my teens I used a lot of profane language (to the chagrin of my teacher grandmother.) I decided at the ripe age of 18 that it had become too big of a part of my vocabulary and stopped. (It is amazing how well operant conditioning can work!) After 20 years and 4 children I find it offensive.

This is why I have a problem. Every night on television there are shows on almost every  channel that show very violent acts. It isn't unusual to watch a police show where several people are murdered and assaults are commonplace. We don't allow potty words on broadcast tv, but shooting people is just fine!

I have decided that the reason violence is allowed is because we are an empire building nation. We want to expand across the globe. Manifest Destiny on a global scale. To get citizens to be soldiers we have to make them immune to the psychological problems violence causes. That is why we encourage our citizens to watch violence on television. I gets them ready...

As an educator I have to ask myself the question, "Which is more damaging to my students: violence, bad language, or nudity?" I can honestly say I would prefer my children to be called names or exposed to a naked body than to be assaulted or killed. I would assume you believe as I do. Why then do we allow/encourage our students/children to watch violent content? Give me four letter word or some nudity over that any  day.

18 comments:

Dr. Eviatar said...

Totally with you, Bill. That's why we have not had cable in our house for many years. Of course my kids play video games which are pretty violent, but it isn't a constant exposure and they are well aware of the difference between reality and fantasy. I do think it is incredibly hypocritical for North American media to ban the naked human body but to be fine with watching the clothed version be defiled in any number of ways.

Wm Chamberlain said...

Hadass,
Sometimes these things become so painfully obvious I can't understand why I didn't notice it sooner.

Julie Niles Petersen said...

If you think about it, we allow nudity in our museums and appreciate it. I have heard that there are less sexual crimes in countries where nudity is less taboo.

Profanity may be offensive to the ear, but I am not sure it really does any harm (unless it is directed at you in a violent way). Note: I am not promoting it!

Watching violence on the other hand, desensitizes our children and I believe the research that says it is very harmful. On a personal note, I grew up in a small town. On the rare occasion there was a violent crime, our mouths dropped open in shock. After graduating high school, I moved to a big city and was apalled by all the violence... at first. I am not sure how long it took, but now it really doesn't phase me much when I hear about a violent crime. That... is sad! I now consider it ordinary. :( I do not feel compelled to take action. I accept it. I am sure I am not alone. And that is very, very wrong.

Wm Chamberlain said...

Julie,
I love art and have had books in my classroom with nude paintings in them. The students act like appreciating nudes is completely wrong. They definitely don't have that reaction when they see pictures of people murdered in my history books.

I think some of your attitude towards the violence where you live comes from you knowing there is very little you can do about it. The accepting things you can't change thing.

Intrepid Flame said...

It's strange the things different societies find offensive. But it appears in almost all societies violence in one form or another is accepted, and I agree it is the most harmful to our children. I mean nudity only becomes obscene in most cases when coupled with violence. Pornography and using women is nothing but a subdued form of violence, but simple natural nudity should not be anything we are ashamed of.

As for language, I am a lover of words and I like to swear when the time is appropriate. Again the only time language can become offensive is when it is coupled with violence.

It appears that the constant thread that is causing our problems is our infatuation with violence. I agree with you that it goes behind television and video games. Violence is ingrained in the American pshyche. The nation was built on it for goodness sake. We need to be actively countering violence, with a non-violent ethos. This is hard to do in an environment where everyone from the militarily-industrial-complex, to hollywood is making lots of cash from our obsession with violence.

Wm Chamberlain said...

Jabiz,
I think we would be hard pressed to find a government anywhere that wasn't originally built on violence. It isn't just the problem of the US, I just can't speak to the culture of other countries since I have no experience like you do. There are many countries that will have to go through more violence to get to the point the US is at.

We (US) don't need to be violent. We have a reasonably acceptable government with basic human rights. We have don't have the excuse of a repressive government or out of control religious zealots causing violence and mayhem on a large scale.We should be a better example.

Intrepid Flame said...

You are right. I was wrong to say that the US is some kind of anomaly when it comes to violence. I am reading about Afghanistan and they make Americans look like Ghandi.

As for your last paragraph about not needing to be violent, then the question is why this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_United_States_military_operations

Wm Chamberlain said...

Jabiz,
It is all about empire building. We have enough nuclear weapons to kill the world, we don't need a huge military presence throughout the world. The reason we do is so we can expand. I suspect most US citizens would say that the world would be a much better place if owned by the United States. One World Government (how scary is that!)

Greg Youngblood said...

This is Greg Youngblood from EDM310 at the University of South Alabama. I completely agree with what you are blogging about. I think that certain language and violence makes a big difference in students lives and the young generation period. There is to much violence on the television and it is ridiculous that violence is so accepted by the masses of US citizens. I think a great way to censor these television shows and what people say in public is how students are taught at home and in the school. I think that there are many things that parents do that do not help young people learn what is right and wrong in the world.

Wm Chamberlain said...

Greg,
I am not sure censorship is a viable option simply because we won't be able to agree as a nation about what should not be allowed. It is the responsibility of the parents, but that again only works when they share my values. (You will be shocked by what your students will be allowed to watch or listen to.) I agree, it is ridiculous how much violence is on tv now.

Thanks for the comment.

Jamie Anderson said...

I agree that the exposure to violence is a much bigger threat to our kids then either nudity or profanity. I also think that it is a parents responsibility to teach their kids the difference between real life and fantasy. This topic hit’s a little close to home for me. My 14 year old nephew was recently suspended from school for telling a friend he wanted to shoot another student. My nephew doesn’t have any access to a gun, but his friend didn’t know that. The friend was smart enough to tell his parents about the comment, and they in turned called the principal. The principal and a local cop talked to my nephew about the comment and found out the other student had been verbally and physically tormenting him since the beginning of the school year. My nephew didn’t actually plan on shooting the other student, but since as a society we accept violence as a common occurrence, we have to assume every threat is real.

Ellyn Schaffner said...

I too agree that violent acts have been acceptable throughout time and that we as a North American society have become desensitized. When I was a young teen my brother, in his mid teens, wanted our house to be rid of Barbies® because of their violence to women. I didn't understand him. But at 48, I do. Being raised in a household where toy guns were not allowed, not even water guns, was difficult in my neighbourhood. Kids played cops and robbers and we had to either borrow, create one out of wood or use our fingers. I remember when an artist neighbour gave my brother a beautifully carved wooden gun and my parents made him return it. After a detailed discussion over the course of a few weeks, with the artist and my brother, my parents finally decided to let him keep the gun. However, it was to be revered as a work of art.
What I am grateful for is that it was an open discussion which has allowed me to continue to develop, change and/or validate my own beliefs surrounding violence and the things connected to violence.

Thanks for this discussion as I continue to ponder...

Ellyn

Wm Chamberlain said...

@Jamie, The no snitching rule that kids grow up with is really counter productive. Since our children have no real power (and they know that) it can make decisions very difficult for them. We need to encourage our children to take the steps they need to so that this kind of behavior can be stopped.

@Ellyn, Your childhood experiences don't reflect mine at all. I did all the "boy" things: played army, shot BB Guns, and even had a couple .22's I could shoot. I honestly don't have a problem with that. My problem is the focus society has. Our priorities really need examined.

Darcie said...

Will,
I relate to your post as I too, decided as a young person, not because someone told me to, to stop using bad language. I felt I could say it the same way without that language. That was not an easy decision to live with as I was sometimes teased about being a "goody, goody". A few weeks ago, I had a similar experience to this (as an adult) when a so-called friend told someone else they suspected I had a very sheltered childhood. It amazed me that they felt this way just because of the way I talk!

Along with this choice, I don't feel that I have any violent tendencies...but there again, because I don't have an aggressive personality, I get personified differently. I feel like the language and violence go hand and hand with each other and agree with you, that it's really sad that our society values this to be an appropriate trait.

Wm Chamberlain said...

@Darcie, I was the designated driver in high school because I could be trusted to not drink and drive. It wasn't because I wouldn't drink it was because they knew I would not do something that stupid. My point is others may make fun of the goody two shoes of the world but when they need someone they can count on to do the right thing they know where to go. If you think about it, it is kind of like being a teacher. We love our students and let them know they can count on us. Not a bad thing to be.

Chris Fancher said...

Good thoughtful comments. I too am amazed at what is on TV these days. Some students argue that the cartoons of my era were just as violent as what is on now a days. That may be true but the brain can usually make the connection with cartoons not being real while the shows we see these days try to be as real life as possible.
Just by reading your post, my post, and the comments on both we are reminded that being a teacher does not stop at the curriculum level. There are much more important things that we must address on a daily basis.

Anonymous said...

i disagree, because the kids need to learn how they want to.

Anonymous said...

You see, the problem is that people have developed agendas, and as such, push ideas without thinking them through. You played off the profanity and the nudity thing. OK, so if profanity is no big deal, why don't we want our kids to talk that way to us at home? It is disrespectful and shows a lack of discipline that will carry on into later life. Nudity? If "society" doesn't have a problem with it, then why do we keep hearing about women being objectified every time female nudity shows up? Apparently we don't have the same problem with male nudity. The 3 items are inter-twined. We start showing kids nude images at younger and younger ages. We have educators wanting to teach them about sex and sexual acts in elementary school. We want them to know all about adult things at an age when they can't possibly handle it. Next we expose them to the profanity on TV and on TV it always gets a laugh. We are telling them it is OK to act like adults in handling nudity and sex, then empowering them by allowing the profanity, encouraging them to experiment with sex by giving out condoms, and then we act surprised when they need to go get an abortion at 14 at a clinic that gets funding from the taxpayers because these miniature adults can't pay for it. And if we give the abortion clinics funds and call them family planning, and let them push their education agenda in schools, then their business will increase as more kids will get pregnant and need their services.
So, yes, I agree that violence has gotten out of hand, but don't play off the other aspects that are being mishandled during the child rearing years. Our government, especially on the liberal side, seek to create a large class of people dependent on the government to insure their continued ascent to power and control. And it is working. In 2010, 45% of people in the US did not pay any income tax, working or not, voting or not. What better way to grow your voting base than to get people hooked on the services you provide as a "right". Our country is headed for a cliff and the politicians are leading the way. We can't discipline our children anymore or we go to jail. Some states are looking at laws to hold parents responsible if their children (whom they can no longer discipline) commit crimes. We have bureaucrats at every turn telling us what to do in almost every aspect of our lives. We need to turn this country on its head and roll back this crap to a more structured, disciplined, respectful, independent time.