Why does anyone care if our society is aggressive? Does it matter if someone blows up a local post office or a child carries a gun to school? Is violence in our communities really causing anyone any abnormal amount of heartache? To the victims, and the families and friends of the victims, surely it does. Perhaps there are still some individuals who care just for the sake of caring, not because they are grieving a loss. But what does it all mean, and what is causing it? Some will point fingers at their televisions and movie theatres and assert that they are to blame. Not being one in the habit of pointing fingers and making absurd accusations, I will explain the free will of man and his inalienable rights to free speech. To censor television and motion pictures because of one faction’s set of morals is earily similar to book burning. Censorship of media messages is an explicit violation of our constitutionally protected right to expression, and as such, should not be looked to as a solution for modern-day violence in society. The First Amendment states ;“Congress shall make no law… ;abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” ;(Jefferson, US Constitution). We are an enlightened population well-versed in the understanding of our constitutionally protected natural rights. Freedom of Speech protects us, as citizens, from being persecuted for expressing our thoughts and ideas. This transcends into the idea of freedom of expression. We all have the right and ability to express ourselves, and to analyze the messages we receive. Our republic was founded on what were then radical, controversial ideas. The founding fathers understood the importance of freedom of expression. So why today do we not? Cries for censorship ring loudly across the nation. Kids are killing kids. Schools are slowly becoming places of violence, not educational institutions, and the solution is not to infringe upon our rights. Information is power. New ideas and thoughts propagate improvement. Without free expression, this is not possible. To control the free exchange of thoughts, ideas, and social and moral inquiry, is to severely handicap the intellect of our society. First and foremost, censorship is a blatant violation of free speech. Second, it is a poor approach to controlling the omnipresent problem of violence in society. In the novel Welcome to the Monkey House, by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., The United States Handicapper General enforces the law of complete equality. A single person has complete control over the forced equality of the nation. The Handicapper General decides not only what equality is, but also the best way to facilitate it. How does one censor information and maintain objectivity? Censorship turns our governing bodies into institutions of paternalistic moralism. Our society celebrates diversity and is a sampling of numerous cultures and modes of thinking. It is not reasonable to think that a single, shared definition of “appropriate” ;can be reached concerning media messages. This leaves our legislature to act as moral babysitters guiding us on how to feel and what to think. It is not the role of our government to guide us to live lives based on one particular sect’s definition of morality. It also becomes dangerously close to a mixture of church and state ;morals are often closely intertwined with religion. Censorship of images of violence in the media by the government concedes one’s personal decision over what images are appropriate to view. As a thinking people, we do not need to be herded like sheep towards a central, forced view of appropriate media messages. When the government rules certain media messages immoral and inappropriate, they deny the population of it’s right to think independently and make choices for themselves. The role of the government is to protect our rights, not to appoint Morality Generals who decide what is best for us. Drama for the masses. Entertainment filled with blood, murder, rape and assault that is viewed for pleasure. What purpose does such violent entertainment serve? His name was William Shakespeare, and he is now known as the world’s greatest playwright. Music to eat dinner to. Two Baroque composers who were under-appreciated at best did not see appreciation for their works until after their death. Bach and Mozart are now arguably two of the greatest musicians ever. Flowers and Stars. In his lifetime he had one painting sell and was ridiculed by his peers insistently. Starry Night and Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh are two of the most highly recognized pieces of art viewed today. I will not begin to address the absurd notion that a violent movie, or episode of a television show, CAUSES someone to commit an act of violence. (( )) Television and motion pictures are currently regulated effectively. The duty of protecting our children and selves from messages we find undesirable now falls upon us. Through education and awareness, such as the rating systems of motion pictures and television, we must decide what messages we wish to invite into our homes. It is one’s personal responsibility to be accountable for what images and themes they accept. Overshadowing this personal responsibility is the responsibility we have to our children. They are not yet able to make educated, aware decisions concerning what they view. It then becomes our duty to shield them from violent programs that promote such behavior as an acceptable practice. As an adult, it is important for us to be aware of the viewing habits of those around us. If we pay attention to the behaviors and dialogue of our children, then we will be in a position to notice the affects viewing habits have on them before they become too adverse. Take note of what programs you watch, and be aware of what those around you are watching. It is just as much our personal and parental responsibility to monitor what we watch, as it is the governments duty to censor the media messages. Film and television are forms of artistic expression. Our Freedom of Speech, endowed to us by the Constitution clearly allows for expression through the media. We will never all appreciate the same art, just as we will never all have a shared appreciation for what is on television. This is why it is important to not turn the government into vigilant media babysitters. It is not the governments’ ;role to interpret art and separate the good from the bad. It is however the duty of the government to regulate the media enough that violence simply for the sake of violence is kept off the air during hours heavily watched by children, and out of movies marketed directly to children. The government currently does an acceptable job of allowing artistic expression, and regulating the portrayal of violence in the media. What does Hollywood teach us about violence? Young boys believe that they can mimic Jackie Chan, and get the bad guy. We are shown that the bad guy always loses, and the good guy always wins. Television and Movies show us the physical pain and emotional heartache caused by acts of violence. These are not bad lessons to learn. In fact, there is tremendous value in teaching these lessons to young people, and reaffirming these beliefs amongst ourselves. Without a doubt, all of the media does not contain value. All of the lessons taught on the screen are not beneficial to society as a whole. But the messages out there worth accepting should be noted. We absorb everything around us, whether we realize it or not. When you watch the latest “Die Hard” ;movie, yes, you do see assault and murder, and yes, these messages do slowly attribute to a lowered resistance to violence. You also see Bruce Willis fighting the bad guy for some noble cause, (the safety of his family and friends, or the good of society) which clearly is a message worth absorbing. We take the good with the bad, and use discretion when it is time to turn the television off, or not see the latest action flick. Further censorship in unnecessary. In order to propagate a less violent society, personal and parental responsibility must be stressed, artistic integrity protected, and blatant, futile, violence continued to be kept out of the media. The federal regulation of violence is the media does not need further attention. It would be much wiser to redirect this energy into making ourselves aware of what we are watching and turn off the television. Regulate yourself, we do not need the government to baby-sit. Be aware of what your children are watching. Encourage open lines of communication so that what is being watched is discussed. Teach the difference between reality and fantasy. If we are to become a less violent society, the work will have to be done by us, not legislation. Open your eyes, pay attention to the messages around you, and make a conscious effort to analyze what you are accepting into your head.