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Tilting the Newtown 'Conversation'

It’s too hard to try and make sense of a senseless event. Adam Lanza’s merciless slaughter in Connecticut has forced everyone with a microphone to insist we have a “national conversation” about why this happens.

But this urgent need to talk is not an excuse for a reckless discussion. Sadly, that is where we’re headed, with pundits hysterical, naive, or both.

Predictably most in the media went straight to the Left’s Alpha and Omega: blaming excessive “access” to guns. It was also an excuse to open fire on the National Rifle Association. For example, author Joyce Carol Oates spewed on Twitter, “If sizable numbers of NRA members become gun-victims themselves, maybe hope for legislation of firearms?” Actress Marg Helgenberger, semi-famous for playing a cop on “CSI,” concurred, “One can only hope, but sadly I don't think anything would change.”

One professor at the University of Rhode Island found violence as the answer to violence. Erik Loomis tweeted “I was heartbroken in the first 20 mass murders. Now I want [NRA VP] Wayne LaPierre’s head on a stick.” After an uproar, Loomis claimed, “Now I want I don’t want to see Wayne LaPierre dead. I want to see him in prison for the rest of his life”-- for “NRA terrorism.”

Let us agree that every liberal -- like Loomis, Helgenberger, and Oates -- has cause for outrage. So too does every conservative. No one enjoys a monopoly and the jockeying must stop.

By the same token, let’s be serious. Lanza did not get violent because of guns. He used guns because he was violent. The proper place for guns in a violent society is something we should discuss.

But if you want to solve the problem, you discuss the culture of violence in a nation enamored of death. Ours is a society imploding under an avalanche of violent video games, music, TV, and movies. Surely, a serious “national conversation’ should go there. 

But so far, ABC and CBS and NBC aren’t doing stories about the violent content on their TV shows. Nor are they discussing violent movies on ABC (Disney) and NBC (Universal), or viciously violent dramas on the pay-cable channel Showtime (owned by CBS). Fox News isn't talking about Seth MacFarlane’s shoot-em-up Sunday night cartoons on Fox, and Rupert Murdoch pushed Obama on Twitter for “bold leadership action” on guns, but hasn't tweeted a word about his own violent Hollywood sleaze.

In short, our news media can’t really be trusted to evaluate all the cultural forces that the American people might blame. They refuse to acknowledge the effect of violent content on impressionable young viewers. They’re likely to cheer Big Gulp bans and the removal of soda machines from schools on behalf of the children, but they won’t tolerate any restriction on children gulping down their company products.

That’s not to say that the entertainment conglomerates didn’t react to the Newtown shooting. Fox quickly announced it would pull new episodes of its Sunday night cartoons “Family Guy” and “American Dad,” as well as a rerun of a “Die Hard” parody episode of “The Cleveland Show” that was scheduled. There were no plot specifics disclosed, but the canceled new shows that were suddenly now too violent for the times were “holiday-themed episodes.”

Anyone who follows the sicko MacFarlane cartoons knows that bloody shooting deaths are part of their formula to deliver shocked laughs. That is, when they don’t have a “funny” plot twist like a crazed horse stomping through an entire grandstand at the racetrack, killing a class of deaf second-graders. Does that episode sound hilarious now, Fox Entertainment?

Other shows were pulled for sensitivity. The SyFy network show “Haven” was pulled because it contained violence in a high-school setting. TLC pushed back the premiere of its show “Best Funeral Ever" into January.

Showtime decided to put disclaimers on the season finales of their violent shows – “Dexter,” the heroic-serial-killer show, and “Homeland,” about terrorism. They announced “in light of the tragedy that has occurred in Connecticut, the following program contains images that may be disturbing.”

Harvey Weinstein’s company canceled the Los Angeles premiere for Quentin Tarantino's ultraviolent western “Django Unchained,” scheduled for the Monday after the massacre. Paramount toned down the gunplay in ads for their new Tom Cruise action movie “Jack Reacher,” which opens with a sniper shooting down five people. They also delayed a high-profile Pittsburgh premiere (where the movie was filmed) on Saturday and planned a quiet screening later.

Stop it, Hollywood. After every massacre, you do the same. Some show is edited, another one postponed, all with great fanfare, while the denizens of Tinseltown loudly voice their outrage at all this senseless violence.

And as soon as the massacre is off Page One, they get back to business, polluting the culture and spoon-feeding the next Adam Lanza.