22 Hofstra L. Rev. 827 (1993-1994)
Mass Media Violence: Thoughts on the Debate

handle is hein.journals/hoflr22 and id is 837 raw text is: MASS MEDIA VIOLENCE: THOUGHTS ON THE
Edward Donnerstein
As a social scientist engaged in this debate, I feel ill at ease. On
the one hand, I have served on panels with John Murray and support-
ed him. I have served on panels with Jonathan Freedman and sup-
ported him also. I find this area very interesting as a social scientist
and one that sometimes disturbs me, disturbs me a great deal, because
I think there are several things we have to keep in mind as we begin
to think about the debate.
First, the same industry that bothered Senator Paul Simon when
he turned on Texas Chainsaw Massacre, is the same industry which
just gave us Schindler's List. I am quite sure we would have a great
deal of problems with young children having access to Texas
Chainsaw Massacre, but we would probably have little or no prob-
lem, nor should we, with easy access to Schindler's List.
The problem, however, is that in the social science community,
any ratings we would do and any definitions we would come up
with, would rate these movies the same in terms of levels of vio-
lence. We in the social science community have not gotten to the
point where I believe we have an adequate definition of violence.
Context is not being taken into consideration, and context must be
taken into consideration.
With that aside, let me talk a little bit about the research and
what I think some of the solutions are. I have a great deal of diffi-
culty with any form of regulation, as it tears very much at my Amer-
ican Civil Liberties Union heart. Although I have done research on
pornography and have talked about what I think are the harmful
effects of sexually violent material, I have also been very clear in
talking about the non-effects of sexually explicit material.
Additionally, as a social scientist, I have written on behalf of
* Professor, Department of Communication, University of California, Santa Barbara.
B.A. 1967, University of Florida; Ph.D. 1972, Florida State University. Editor's note: This
article was originally presented at a live Symposium on Television and Violence held at
Hofstra University School of Law on April 8, 1994.

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