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Violence in
the Media

Issue 12

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An Endless Debate:
Freedom of Expression vs. Control

Bernard Bonnet from France

Are TV and Hollywood solely responsible for violence in our society?
Should they be controlled?

 International students debating freedom of expression
Photo: Sandy Peters
International students heatedly debate the issues of freedom of expression and
control of media content.

Freedom of expression is an endless debate between the French and the Americans. Being French, I rather agree with the idea of a partial control of information.

It's quite hypocritical to think that everything is good to say. For example, what do we have to do with the neo-nazi propaganda? In France and almost all of Western Europe, it is forbidden to promote these ideas. We have learned of the causes and effects of the Second World War. If there is an article, a book, a thesis, a flyer or a magazine promoting this idea, the author or the person responsible for the publication has to pay a heavy fine.

In the U.S., some people say they have the right to affirm that the white race is superior, for example, arguing that other people also have the right to respond and write the opposite. Yet, when someone in Colorado or elsewhere shoots five black men or a young gay man or puts a bomb in a Jewish school, it is an enormous scandal; everything "falls down from the sky."

How is it possible?" "How to protect our kids?" "Are TV and Hollywood responsible?" There are a lot of problems with TV, OK but it is not the only responsible. This is a real political problem. To control is not to forbid. Education is the best shield to protect kids and people in general against the effects of televised violence.

Does the government have the same rights as a family to control information? This is the question. Americans seem to demand the second choice. In this country, the family is the State. In Europe, the State is, without question (except in elections!), able to intervene (and not interfere).

I usually spend hours and hours discussing this topic with my American friends.

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