The exploitation of sex and violence in the media keeps causing controversy. In the States, whenever legislation to control the broadcasting of violent or pornographic images on television or the internet is proposed, it arouses a storm of protest from intellectuals invoking freedom of expression.

If human rights are considered on their own, without responsabilities being taken into account, there’s never going to be a solution to the problem. We’re letting violence become our daily fare, to the point that an average American adolescent will have seen forty thousand murders and two hundred thousand acts of violence on television before reaching the age of nineteen. Violence is implicitly presented as the best way to resolve a problem, and sometimes as the only way. It’s glorified, and at the same time it’s dissociated from physical pain, as only visual images are involved.

It’s an attitude that extends to plenty of other fields. The boxer Mike Tyson became the best-paid sportsman in history – 75 million dollars in one year. What for? For punching someone else.

There-s no denying that this general attitude to things in the media increases the use of violence in reality. Any control on such excesses is denouced as muzzling freedom of expression, but without any control we’ll just see more and more violence. Surely, the problem is a back of any sense of responsability. The producers who broadcast those television programs or organize such contest know very well, at the bottom of their hearts, that what they’re doing is far from helping the human race. But the public’s fascinated by violence and sex, and commercially it works very well. The producers only see money to be made, while the legislators are paralyzed by the fear of even touching peoplo’s freedom of expression.

The result is complete ignorance about responsibility and an inability to translate such a notion into either law or convention. In the end, a sense of responsability has to come from the maturity of individuals, not from restrictive laws. And for individuals to attains such maturity, spiritual principles that make inner change possible have to be alive and well in society, instead of being cruelly missing.

Source: Matthieu Ricard

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