The public outcry against violence after the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy sparked a spasm of rescheduling of television programs. Many long-booked shows were postponed in favor of “less violent” features. Even comedy sequences in “The Flying Nun” were considered inappropriate. The more violent programs were not permanently dropped, however, but were simply reshuffled for release in late summer. One network official predicted that August would probably be the bloodiest month in television history.
The concern over America’s so-called climate of violence has prompted many to take a belated long look at the most potent of mass-communications media—television.
Representative John Murphy of New York City is convinced that TV is “blunting or immunizing” Americans to the “often tragic consequences” and “wrongness” of violence. He is leader of fifty congressmen who last month called for the Federal Communications Commission to make a study of violence on TV, a move FCC Chairman Rosel H. Hyde favors. The National Association for Better Broadcasting has repeatedly found “too many” incidents of violence on TV. President Johnson’s new Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence will include television in its study. Senator Thomas Dodd plans to reopen hearings of his juvenile-delinquency subcommittee, which in 1965, after a ten-year span of monitoring TV and listening to testimonies and to reports of responsible studies, concluded:
But others, while decrying the portrayal of violence for its own sake, believe that violence is so integral to human nature that the media must include it where warranted in life presentations. As playwright-actor Ossie Davis points out, violence in the arts is always preceded by violence in life. ...1
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