Who's "Subversive"?

Why is Peace Magazine profiling as a "subversive" someone who has worked for the CIA (aka the Committee to Intervene Anywhere)? Your profile of Thomas Homer-Dixon (July/Aug) neglects to mention, as The Toronto Star points out, that our hero at U of T's Peace and Conflict Studies did a report for a "remarkably receptive" CIA on 130 unstable states. This represents about the same number of countries which the CIA has made "unstable" through covert action, infiltration, psychological warfare, economic sabotage, torture, coups, assassination, and other forms of democracy-building.

The CIA has not changed its mandate from the overthrow of democratically-elected governments in Guatemala, Iran, Vietnam, Nicaragua, Chile, Italy, and other countries far too numerous to mention. It continues its promotion of human rights violations (such as the infamous Phoenix program in Viet-nam and making the economy of Allende's Chile "scream"), and the blood of the victims is all over the floors of their Langley headquarters. Consulting with them only allows the CIA to develop ever more sophistacated forms of repression which defend not sustainability or democracy but the freedom of corporations to make rampaging profits at the expense of billions of people.

An anti-fascist would hopefully not sit down with the Gestapo and advise them about how best to respond to the instability in Nazi-occupied Europe; why is a so-called peacenik helping murderers figure out the best way to run U.S.-occupied Earth?

Matthew Behrens

Excuses for violent TV

The Toronto Sunday Star of June 24 gave cynical reportage of the tragic killing of a child by a Saskatchewan teenager who had watched the movie Warlock. The Star's "experts" selected by Trish Crawford portrayed media violence as in the "heart and mind," not on the TV screen, where it is a problem only for a vulnerable few. Blaming TV is too convenient, they said; poverty and neglect are more important.

In fact, based on the accumulated evidence, unsupervised and repeated access to a video such as Warlock amounts to electronic child abuse. The fact that we allow the production, distribution, and retail sale of videos that are associated with copycat crimes shows how profit-driven our information-based economy has become. Any defence of this state of affairs disregards the pollution of our cultural environment by these commodities.

Communications scholars (none of whom were interviewed for The Star's article) now generally recognize that the mass media are the most powerful educators the world has ever known. At a recent Toronto conference, the keynote speaker, Edward Donnerstein, pointed out that about 95% of the researchers on media violence now agree that it is harmful. He specifically named Jonathan Freedman of the University of Toronto as being one of the remaining hold-outs to the contrary - the same Freedman featured in The Star's story, with its outdated arguments. This irresponsible article gives the industry a reprieve from accountability for a very serious mental health problem.

Keith Spicer, past chair of the CRTC, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, and countless researchers agree that the debate about research is over. The debate is now about policy.

Those who market these products should assume the same level of responsibility expected of industrialists who produce, say, breast implants, pharmaceuticals, or cars. The products should be tested for toxicity before being released on the market, instead of leaving it to the public to prove that the effects are harmful. This is not an issue of censorship or "media bashing." It is a serious health problem that affects us all.

Rose Dyson, Ed. D.

Peace Magazine Sep-Oct 1996

Peace Magazine Sep-Oct 1996, page 5. Some rights reserved.

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