D.M. writes in my local newspaper (in part):

As a member of the generation who grew up with television in the early 1950’s, I’ve listened to about all I can stand from these various groups that want nothing but pure sugar and no spice on television. The PTA, among countless others, is now thinking about boycotting the sponsors of programs that they feel have too much sex and violence…..

I am the father of two children, ages 8 and 3, and I have a good idea why television has been attacked so often in the past few years. Parents these days are just too busy to babysit for their own children, and they allow the television to supply the amusement and attraction it always has, to keep the children quiet and out of the way.

The real shame, and the basic underlying truth of this whole censorship matter, is that “parental discretion and judgment” are not being practiced in many homes, and its a damn shame that the entire television industry, and those of us who really enjoy watching it, are being caused to suffer for lack of it.

I am really getting tired of those who protest any kind of regulation of television programming with cries of “Censorship!” “Where are the parents?” “Can’t they find the ‘off’ switch?” It either turns out that they have no children or they have children of such ages that they are in bed by 8 p.m., spend little time at the neighbors’ homes, are not old enough to stay home alone, and are never, never awake after their parents have fallen asleep.

It is simplistic to think that a parent can be ever-present to monitor whatever the children are watching, even parents who really care. Moreover, I think we have some responsibility to protect the children of parents who don’t care, or are not aware of the harm that is done by the never-ending stream of TV violence and sex.

Television is not in the same category as a book or a magazine that you can keep out of the house, a movie you can refuse to let your children go to, or Home Box Office, which I, for one, refuse to subscribe to. I am grateful that my children were young at a time when TV was neither very good nor very bad. With the amount of “spice” that we are currently getting on TV (with more graphic and extreme spice in the offing), I think if I had young children I would seriously consider not having a TV in the house despite the loss of much truly good education and entertainment.

Most of us would say that in our lifetime we have seen an increase in aggressiveness and sexual acting-out in our young folk. The American Psychological Association’s Monitor on Psychology, 8 September 2007, opens their lead article with:

The link between television violence and increased aggression in children is stronger than the relationships between asbestos and throat cancer, condom use and HIV, and workplace second-hand and smoke and lung cancer, APA member Dale Kunkel, PhD, told members at a June hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

Allowing unregulated violence on the public airways is much like allowing obscene billboards to be put up along the public highways in the name of freedom of the press, and then saying that parents who object should not let their children go down those roads. It is simply not that simple.

I am truly distressed at what is happening, and while I fear censorship, I fear the “anything goes” freedom even more. Excessive viewing of violence has been proven harmful. Movies like “The Exorcist” have caused “cinematic neurosis” requiring psychiatric treatment. Juvenile offenders have gotten their modus operandi from TV. TV is setting the moral tone of the nation.

Television is an extremely powerful educational tool, for good or ill, and I feel we owe it to our children and their children to try to see that it is more beneficial than harmful. Stand with those who, like Morality in Media, stand for more morality and less violence in our TV programming. Pray for those who are behind objectionable programming. If they were moved by love for humanity instead of for the almighty dollar, they would lift our children up, not drag them down.