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Social Issues: Letters

To: Star Tribune, Editor (opinion{at}
Subject: The forgotten Factors

Steve Chapman (“First Thoughts, Wrong thoughts, But Embraced” 12/21/2012) lists and critiques three
common alleged solutions for mass killings. Indeed, gun control, short of complete ban on all guns,
may not make a significant impact and taking measures against those with mental illness attacks too
broad a category and would risk stigmatizing many non-violent people. Interestingly, like so many
media-related people, Chapman debunks the claim what children view effects their developing minds.
His arguments begin to sound a lot like the rationalizations of the tobacco industry a generation back.
If media cannot influence thinking, why do advertisers spend their millions? Why do minorities insist
on removing negative stereotypes? If you see thousands of deaths on TV before the age of 18 and
learn in games to shot first and never ask questions, how can this not spill over into life, especially for
some people at some times.

Totally lacking in the analysis is the breakdown of the family. The most powerful predictor of violence
in a young man is the absence of a father in the home. Secondly, the loss of moral consensus has
proved that ideas do have consequences. For two generations children have been taught so-called
“values clarification.” It is now commonplace to blandly make statements like, “That may be wrong for
you but not for me.” If each child is encouraged to choose and prize his/her own values, some will
choose violence. Combine with this is loss of the conviction that we all will eventually face our Creator
and Judge (whom many have rejected as their Redeemer.) Suicide is not escape into oblivion but a
jump from the frying pan into the fire.

Ross Olson

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