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Media Viloence and Capital Punishment

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In our society, there are two things that are affecting children and adults, media violence and capital punishment also known as the death penalty. The massive amount of violence in today’s media has a negative impact on the young and teenagers, which can lead to aggressive behaviors. Many civilians agree that the media does influence children and teen’s behavior, and some argue that it does not. It is the parents’ responsibility to control what they are watching. In the United States media violence affects children, but outside the media is capital punishment which is real violence. In the article “Unnatural Killers” John Grisham shows how violence in media can become a reality. It is about two teenagers who went on a killing spree immediately after watching Oliver Stone’s Hollywood production Unnatural Killers. The young couple replicated the actions of the two main characters in the movie. Grisham believes the movie Unnatural Killers is one of Hollywood’s failures because of the amount of influence it had on the young couple.

To decrease these events Grisham suggests, “The first way would be a general boycott of similar films. If people refuse to purchase tickets to watch such orgy violence…similar movies wouldn’t be made” (325). Nevertheless, people still go out to see these movies and they are still being made. Oliver Stone’s movie showed murdering people as glamorous which can result in inclination of murder amongst young adults. Many would argue Oliver Stone is not the blame for their horrific actions, but his movie was misleading. Author John Leo agrees with Grisham’s point of view that the violence in media is a problem. In the article, “When Life Imitates Video”, Leo quotes Grossman who states, “’We have to start worrying about what we are putting into the minds of our young…pilots train on flight stimulators, drivers on driving simulators, and now we have our children on murder stimulators’” (331).

In the quote Grossman is comparing children to pilots saying that Americans are training and showing their children negative things and civilians need to take a step back, observed what children are watching, and take action. Violent behaviors from the media can be instilled in children at a young age. They have a tendency of mimicking the things they see on television and video games they are playing. Every year the technology of video games is becoming more realistic, giving children and young adolescents a drive and a sense of aggressiveness. In many of the games players can create an actual person, shoot people with real looking guns, and see gory scenes which gives them a bad perception.

In a study reported in an editorial, nine out of ten parents believe violence in television and media has a negative effect on children (8). Many studies show who children that see or play violent games have the tendency to become aggressive. However, author Richard Rhodes in “Hollow Claims about Fantasy Violence” claims, “…violence isn’t learned from mock violence but learned from personal violent experiences” (329). Civilians are quick to blame the media and entertainment industry for belligerence amongst children. If a child is abused in his household and his upbringing involves guns the individual is most likely going to be violent. The parents are encouraged to censor what their children are watching or playing. The V-chip, not watching television after a certain time, and only purchasing the appropriate game ratings are just a few ways parents can protect their children, but many would argue that may not be enough.

Another moral issue that is prevalent in the United States is capital punishment. Many opposed to the death penalty may argue that there is an exact correlation between race and the death penalty, and people that are for capital punishment would argue that race is no longer an issue. Sociologist Robert Pionke argues that the courts purposely discriminate against blacks. In his article “Dead Wrong” Pionke quotes a researcher in Florida by the name of William Bower who states “‘‘…a black offender convicted of killing a white was forty times more likely to be sentenced to death than someone (white or black) who killed a black’” (2). William Bower’s research evidence appears to make sense, but politician Edward Koch admits that there was discrimination when it came to blacks and the death penalty. He also mentions that was a problem of the past and that “It is not justice to exclude everyone from the penalty of the law if a few are found to be favored. Justice requires that the law be applied equally to all” (717).

Everyone should and be treated the same when it comes to the law whether you are African American, Asian, Caucasian, or Mexican. Discrimination was a huge problem of the past and should no longer be used as an excuse. Crime deterrence is an important argument related to capital punishment. Opponent for capital punishment, Politician Russell Feingold, asserts that the death penalty does not prevent crime, but it does makes police officers’ jobs more difficult. He supports this by talking to a former police chief of Madison, Wisconsin, who states “… a suspect’s incentive to surrender peacefully is diminished when the government has plans to execute” (720). If the criminal knows that he or she is going to be put to death, he or she is not going to back down and may become even more hostile avoiding arrest. Differing in opinion, politician Edward Koch’s article “Death and Justice: How Capital Punishment Affirms Life” states that the death penalty is needed for deterrence.

Koch uses the example of Joseph Shaw who was previously convicted of many murdering two teenagers. In an act of mercy he admitted that killing is not right and later admitted to killing another fourteen- year- old girl. Koch declared “Had the death penalty been a real possibility in the minds of these murderers, they might well have stayed their hand. They might have shown moral awareness before their victims died, and not after” (715). Essentially many murderers recognize that killing is wrong and admit that before they die. If only they had the presence of mind to think of the consequences before committing the crime. Media violence usually affects children and adolescents and capital punishment deals with adults. They are both issues in the United States and will continue to be a crucial debate. Parents and teachers should talk to the young about these issues. Help them be aware of media violence and how to perceive it. Feingold makes a good argument for the death penalty and should be abolished. His point about crime deterrence is the reason to get rid of the death penalty because it is not working. Violence is an issue that all civilians need to be aware of in our society.

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