Wednesday, November 18, 2009

President Zuma shouldn’t blame artists for violence

An article from the Times Live
Posted: November 17th, 2009 | By Ray Hartley

For original article - click HERE

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma’s interaction with local artists today offered a disturbing insight into how he sees the relationship between media and violence.

Here’s what he said: “Whatever we present is part of societal education. If you listen to… [radio] short stories you are exposed to conspiracies, to killing, to murders, everything you can think of and the young people… are looking at it and choosing their own characters. And we sometimes wonder why society is so violent.”
Then there was blood, violence and sex on television. “It is brought into our living rooms whether we like it or not. Then we wonder why our society is so violent and there is so much
rape and everything. We contribute.”

It seems that Zuma believes that there is a causal relationship between consuming media and acting in an anti-social manner.

This is a highly contentious link to make. It has been shown time and time again that people are able to distinguish between fantasy and reality.

In any event most images of violence speak to people’s fears, not their fantasies. If anything they may confirm the average person’s desire to avoid violent confrontation out of fear.

What makes the tiny minority act in a violent or anti-social way is often a much more direct motive such as greed or a dysfunctional environment in which peers influence behaviour negatively.

What Zuma has said it pretty harmless. But what about the next step? What about those images of police violence at a protest? Are they inciting further violence too?

What about harsh criticisms of delivery failures? Do they incite violence.
At what point does concern for the well-being of citizens become censorship?