Congrats to Neil DeGrasse Tyson on his promotion to Agent of Satan!
(via thedragoninmygarage)Source: skepticalavenger
The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory and was seeking sound bites to support it. “Wouldn’t you say,” she asked, “that killings like this are influenced by violent movies?” No, I said, I wouldn’t say that. “But what about Basketball Diaries?” she asked. “Doesn’t that have a scene of a boy walking into a school with a machine gun?” The obscure 1995 Leonardo Di Caprio movie did indeed have a brief fantasy scene of that nature, I said, but the movie failed at the box office (it grossed only $2.5 million), and it’s unlikely the Columbine killers saw it. The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory. “Events like this,” I said, “if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn’t have messed with me. I’ll go out in a blaze of glory.”
In short, I said, events like Columbine are influenced far less by violent movies than by CNN, the NBC Nightly News and all the other news media, who glorify the killers in the guise of “explaining” them. I commended the policy at the Sun-Times, where our editor said the paper would no longer feature school killings on Page 1. The reporter thanked me and turned off the camera. Of course the interview was never used. They found plenty of talking heads to condemn violent movies, and everybody was happy."
You’ve probably noticed that a number of major websites have blacked out their pages for the day in protest of the SOPA and PIPA bills in the United States Senate and House of Representatives. As a concerned citizen, I did my duty this morning and drafted letters to both of my state’s senators (Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar). At some point today, I’ll also give both of them a call (the lines are busy right now!).
If you’re worried about these bills, I definitely recommend that you do the same! My letter isn’t that great, but eh - if I post it here and it inspires even one person to write in, then I’ll be happy!
Here is my letter to Senator Franken (my letter to Klobuchar is pretty similar, so I won’t put up both):
Dear Senator Franken,
Piracy of intellectual property is a problem. Nobody can deny that. People deserve compensation for the time, effort, blood, and tears that go into their creative works. I have to imagine that you, after years of working in the entertainment industry, have been personally affected by online piracy (or, at least, many of your closest friends have). For you, this is probably a personal fight, and that is why it is tempting to support any piece of congressional legislation that would combat this problem.
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its Senate equivalent, the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), are not a solution. These bills are the rough equivalent of treating cancer with a shotgun. SOPA/PIPA do nothing to address the root problems of piracy – it is simply designed to “treat the symptoms” by preventing access to pirated resources. However, it doesn’t even handle that part well.
SOPA/PIPA allow an unconstitutional infringement of the rights of free speech, due process, and and seizure of property. Even more concerning, it places this country on a slippery slope of censorship. The vague wording of this bill allows the blacklisting of websites that simply reference copyrighted material – websites like Wikipedia, Youtube, or Facebook.
Passing this bill would place us in the company of such countries as China, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. I’d like to think that we could do a better job of protecting the freedoms appealed to in our founding documents.
Your view on this bill is understandable, but is a clear black mark on your record of progressive, intelligent views on a number of other issues. Please reconsider your stance on this bill. Piracy is a cancer, but it is one that must be treated with targeted, intelligent cures – not with a machete. SOPA/PIPA are not the solution we need.
Thank you for your representation of Minnesota,