Standing Up to the Bad Guys

The main thing that struck me after reading the Opinion page Moral Dilemmas column "To Help or Not to Help" (April 24), was how directly it related to the situation in Germany when Hitler was ascending to power.

Surely there were many situations all over Germany that parallel the episode related by the author. Just make the four drunken men Nazi brownshirts, the time 1935, and there you have it.

People continually ask, how could an otherwise peace-loving people allow Hitler to run the country? Part of the answer lies in the outcome of the scenario: The good guys fold in the face of the fear and pressure of the unknown. Will I get hurt? Will I look foolish? Maybe they will go away?

There's a good reason for the popularity of Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry and Charles Bronson's Paul Kersey movies. They did (on the screen) what every man wishes he had the moral courage to do: Stand up to the bad guys and mete out some instant justice.

Dan Hyland

Arlington Heights, Ill.

Wrong target

I read "Child Safety Activists Target American Gunmakers" (April 28) with interest. While the article was fair and balanced, it did not go nearly far enough. In the aftermath of all the tragic, high-profile shootings, few in the news media are asking: What part does the deluge of sanitized, glamorized violence in mass media programming play in inciting children to violence with guns?

Media analysts seem to prefer to pretend that the powerful industries in which they work bear no responsibility for influencing the most vulnerable and the least sophisticated media viewers among us. Perhaps gun- makers and owners are just easier targets for lazy journalists who are more interested in what is politically correct and convenient.

Study after study documents the negative influence of violent media on children. Naive minds are far less adept at differentiating between fantasy and reality, between TV and motion picture violence and the realities of everyday life, than are mature adults.

As a parent and a responsible gun owner, I am keenly aware that the only time my child is likely to get any healthy, accurate, and helpful information about firearms from the TV set is when I provide a video about shooting sport safety. Frankly, the gratuitous violence so common in mass media represents a far greater danger to the well-being of our children than gunmakers and their products.

As a journalist myself, I am ashamed of the apparent inability of my colleagues to provide comprehensive, truthful, and accurate reportage on this complex issue. If the tragic incidents of the past few months are not sufficient to cause the powers that be in journalism to take another look at violent programming and its effects on impressionable minds, one can only wonder what, if anything, will cause such men and women to scruple.

Michael Gillespie

Maxwell, Iowa

The US and the rest of the world

David Newsom's column "US Must Accept Its Foreign Obligations" (April 22) struck a chord. I am curious about the infrequent reporting on this topic. Perhaps the answer lies juxtaposed with the surrealism of Sen. Jesse Helms's chairmanship of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Americans buckle under our natural fear of change in the status quo. We talk of globalization but are unwilling to compromise. We sign international treaties but later treat them hypocritically. Unfortunately, fear in the guise of patriotism prevents national and international progress.

The UN, like the US, is a great idea. We need to look beyond our borders and our noses, think globally, and act more selflessly for the promotion of world peace.

Frank Cobarrubia

Chelan, Wash.

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