Some Quotes Of Note: Politicians Damning New Technologies/Cultural Artifacts

from the have-fun-with-it,-people dept

In my post earlier about Rep. Robert Wexler’s misguided remarks at the World Copyright Summit, an anonymous commenter added a wonderful comment highlighting similar politically misguided sayings throughout the years that was too good not to share. The anonymous commenter didn’t say where it’s from, but it appears that it was mostly from a Wired article from a few years ago. So, one could make an argument that the original comment was infringing, but aren’t we all better off for having had the chance to read it?

Is it the only lesson of history that man is unteachable?

— Sir Winston Churchill

The disturbing material in Grand Theft Auto and other games like it is stealing the innocence of our children and it’s making the difficult job of being a parent even harder … I believe that the ability of our children to access pornographic and outrageously violent material on video games rated for adults is spiraling out of control.

– US senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, 2005

The effect of rock and roll on young people, is to turn them into devil worshippers; to stimulate self-expression through sex; to provoke lawlessness; impair nervous stability and destroy the sanctity of marriage. It is an evil influence on the youth of our country.

– Minister Albert Carter, 1956

Many adults think that the crimes described in comic books are so far removed from the child’s life that for children they are merely something imaginative or fantastic. But we have found this to be a great error. Comic books and life are connected. A bank robbery is easily translated into the rifling of a candy store. Delinquencies formerly restricted to adults are increasingly committed by young people and children … All child drug addicts, and all children drawn into the narcotics traffic as messengers, with whom we have had contact, were inveterate comic-book readers This kind of thing is not good mental nourishment for children!

– Fredric Wertham, Seduction of the Innocent, 1954

The free access which many young people have to romances, novels, and plays has poisoned the mind and corrupted the morals of many a promising youth; and prevented others from improving their minds in useful knowledge. Parents take care to feed their children with wholesome diet; and yet how unconcerned about the provision for the mind, whether they are furnished with salutary food, or with trash, chaff, or poison?

– Reverend Enos Hitchcock, Memoirs of the Bloomsgrove Family, 1790

Does the telephone make men more active or more lazy? Does [it] break up home life and the old practice of visiting friends?

– Survey conducted by the Knights of Columbus Adult Education Committee, San Francisco Bay Area, 1926

This new form of entertainment has gone far to blast maidenhood … Depraved adults with candies and pennies beguile children with the inevitable result. The Society has prosecuted many for leading girls astray through these picture shows, but GOD alone knows how many are leading dissolute lives begun at the ‘moving pictures.’

– The Annual Report of the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, 1909

The indecent foreign dance called the Waltz was introduced … at the English Court on Friday last … It is quite sufficient to cast one’s eyes on the voluptuous intertwining of the limbs, and close compressure of the bodies … to see that it is far indeed removed from the modest reserve which has hitherto been considered distinctive of English females. So long as this obscene display was confined to prostitutes and adulteresses, we did not think it deserving of notice; but now that it is … forced on the respectable classes of society by the evil example of their superiors, we feel it a duty to warn every parent against exposing his daughter to so fatal a contagion.

– The Times of London, 1816

I particularly like the last quote. That darn Waltz. Destroying society.

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Comments on “Some Quotes Of Note: Politicians Damning New Technologies/Cultural Artifacts”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I sort of want Mike to answer – because there are plenty of things that were unacceptable before and are still unacceptable today, and likely will be unacceptable tomorrow.

If you narrowly select things, you can come up with quotes to support almost any point of view, which proves little.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Way to try to flip the point.

The point is that no matter what the “new” thing is, there is some group that’s going to not like it and attempt to use the old “X will destroy society, morals, the children and life as we know it.” as a rallying cry to make others do what they think is right.

However, they are always wrong, this time too…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

…there are plenty of things that were unacceptable before and are still unacceptable today, and likely will be unacceptable tomorrow.

Yes, and unfortunately, whether you are in tune to the situation or not, it seems that past 2000 years of British Methodology in re: approaching problems and issues, along with the attached customs are coming to something of an end. We should recall that there was a time, not long ago, where it was looked down upon if you didn’t speak “The Proper Queens English.”

Granted, there was a short surge to return to “Proper British” customs in the 1950s, but in today’s debate settings, even today’s self-appointed “Keeper of the Law” (read: “Teh Grammah Nazi”) are looked down upon in what is often becoming the proper social setting for debate, as customs and formalities are oft thrown out the door for valuable content.

Perhaps some need to gain understanding, and I suppose they may need to see a poll of the number of American Households which contain a copy of The “Complete Book of Etiquette” by Amy Vanderbilt. If you’re real adventurous, the poll may also request how often they refer to it in a year.

So it seems the natural progression tends to no longer favor the oligarchy. A natural conclusion may be that what is up is down, what is left is right, and perhaps, as Weird Al Yankovic once prosed in his epic song “Everything you know is wrong.” I imagine it won’t be long, before we start seeing Scooter booked for high-class social dinners either. (see Nessaja for insight)

It’s a nice day outside, and I plan to call my family. I think they are out on holiday somewhere.

Kevin says:

Ozzy Osbourne

I always found it highly amusing that one of the most demonized musicians of the 1980’s ended up being the bumbling star of a 00’s “realtiy sitcom.” He became so mainstream that he was invited to perform at the Queen’s Jubilee, as was a noted guest one year at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner. Can you imagine the look on Tipper Gore’s face if you have told her in 1985 that Ozzie would be mainstream, harmless, and dull in less than 20 years?

MikeC (profile) says:

Just an interesting thought

While I believe the hyperbole of politics and news is what’s leading to the downfall of society, but can any here *honestly* not consider that since the coming of rock & roll: “to stimulate self-expression through sex; to provoke lawlessness; impair nervous stability and destroy the sanctity of marriage.” hasn’t actually happened. There is “NO” causal proof or link but it has happened.

Or that that children’s attitudes and actions have in-fact moved to more “depraved” as would be viewed by 1909 adults .. since the invention of movies and don’t they set some bad examples. Once again there is no causal link, but it is happening for some reason. I sure some of you knee jerk commenter’s will slam this, but I am not saying it’s true as to the cause, but you have to admit some of it happening today w/o doubt. How “DO WE” explain the seeming spiral of society to a darker tone, with the way young (meaning under 18) people are acting.

Things I would never even have considered 30 years ago when I was 18 .. now are common place for 21 & 16 year old sons. Take the T-Shirts our kids wear to school, with comments and words my Dad would have tanned my rear for if I said them let alone wore them on a shirt.

Just curious how you all explain this???

Fsm says:

Re: Re: Just an interesting thought

Did you even read what you responded to?

He was commenting on how, with each new generation, things that were considered taboo aren’t anymore. He even predicted a knee-jerk response like yours. Way to be that predictable internet guy.

@MikeC – I think the reason is exactly the stereotypical one. That kids are ‘tired of being told what to do’ their entire lives. So they decide to enjoy something their parents specifically do not. No one wants to be spoon fed their personality to them.

Mr. David M. Beyer (user link) says:

Re: Re: Just an interesting thought

Well said. Look at crime rates now vs. in 1909. Media portrayal of violence/sex as a catalyst for chaos is nothing compared to than widespread poverty, dangerous working conditions, and lack of civil rights for huge portions of the population. And if you think it’s better that kids learn absolutely nothing about sex before they start experimenting it themselves as they were in the 1950s, you’re not doing your homework.

Jeff says:

Re: Just an interesting thought

I think I understand what you’re saying and frankly I’ve pondered that myself. But I always come back to the conclusion society isn’t spiraling towards the immoral abyss that is always predicted by the religious zealots. I find it appears to be gravitating to the mean between conservative and liberal ideals
Its just with our instant communication the exchange of ideas are providing examples of almost every depravity you can imagine, even some you don’t want to. Making it appear we are on a highway to hell.
I guess what I’m trying to get out is, people are crude, baseless, self-serving, egotistical lying dicks and we will always try to appear better than the neighbor.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Maybe they would, but it’s all a matter of perspective and opinion.

Take the telephone example. Someone living in the 1920s would look at how communication using the telephone had changed the way we communicate with each other by the 1970s, and would most likely conclude that the way people communicated was somehow inferior. Of course, it wouldn’t be inferior, just different in ways that they wouldn’t quite appreciate. Some face-to-face contact was sacrificed for greater freedom and the ability to communicate with more people. That doesn’t mean that home life or social life was somehow worse in any objective way.

Likewise, the fearmongers going on about how the likes of Facebook, SMS and Twitter are “destroying” the way people communicate today could leap forward 20 years and say “I told you so” when the final effects of such communication are clear. However, today’s generation who are growing up with these services as we did with the telephone would not see their communication as being somehow inferior. In fact, they’d probably wonder how people ever got by without the ability to keep in touch with all their friends and relatives through one or two handy sites or media.

As for many of the other comments, such as Clinton’s inane GTA comments and the similarly misguided comments about movies, the waltz and rock ‘n roll. These are simply people who have identified a problem in society and, rather than actually attempt to address the causes of said problems, they find a handy scapegoat. Something that they don’t understand and therefore fear.

It’s telling that this has been going on for so long – when the same issues rear their heads during the next generation, it will because the real causes have been ignored in favour of a fleeting scapegoat issue. Not because they were right and those evil waltzes and moving pictures have done their dirty work on our children…

Trollificus says:

It is pointless...

…to compare the ills of one era to those of another.

The only constants are the way people’s lives are simultaneously enhanced and damaged by cultural and technological change, and (as PaulT perceptively pointed out) the seemingly inevitable wrong-headed reactions from politicians and vested interests.

You don’t have to rely on selective quotes to prove people fear change, politicians pander and kids will do stupid things. And here we are in the 21st century, seeing these three invariate behaviors feeding each other. I’m pretty sure this will result in some bemused head-shaking in the future…

ps) as an old fart AND kind of a techie, I find I’m concerned about young people forming the habit of expressing themselves in 140 characters or less. Also about the concurrent trivialization of sex and the sexualization of ever-younger children. Also about those damn kids on my lawn sexting each other all the time.


trollificus says:

Re: Re: Re:2 It is pointless...

Heh. Cool.

Me too.

And I don’t try to tell people that the things I disapprove of represent some kind of apocalypse*. No matter how hard some people try to distress me with appearance and behavior, I know (even if they don’t or pretend not to) they are just people under the WoW makeup, tats, furry costumes and/or facemetal**.

*-and I’m guessing you don’t either. That’s what I liked about PaulT’s point: That the people responsible for these quotes have something to gain by demonizing change, or aspects of change, or perceive that they have something to lose by not demonizing it.

**-and yes, I’ve worked/associated with kids of all these ‘types’, and got along with them. Once they overcame their smallminded prejudices. lol.

Trollificus says:

Re: how do we get around this stuff?

Might I recommend the time-honored “Since we’re superior to every previous generation let’s try to set in stone the enlightenment WE exhibit” approach??

Never mind that this is no different than every other superior-to-their-parents generation preceding.

Also pay no attention to the liberals behind the curtain. I note the sloppy thinking equating all this resistance to change with “religious zealots” and “conservatives” when an objective eye perceives the stasis emanating from the so-called Left: luddite resistance to technological advances, individual choice applied to genetic engineering, the mindless worship of an imaginary, static, and beneficient “Nature” and set-in-stone attitudes about race.

If you really believe that any political side is the “good guys”, you are guilty of inadequate cynicism.

CleverName says:

Re: Re: how do we get around this stuff?

right, left, liberal, conservative are labels applied to people and ideas because some are too lazy to avoid the stereotypes. Your need to put people in bins so that you can then assume other characteristics about their nature is an easy trap to fall into, but is just plain lazy and in most cases the conclusions drawn are incorrect.

trollificus says:

Re: Re: Re: how do we get around this stuff?

“If you really believe that any political side is the “good guys”, you are guilty of inadequate cynicism.”

You might want to reign in the supercilious lectures about labels so you’ll have some left for people who actually believe in them. When addressing people who clearly ARE satisfied that such labels represent reality, they are necessarily referenced to delineate their shortcomings.

Unless such comment is just an automatic reaction serving the ever-popular intarwebs function of affirming to yourself your superiority to others.

In which case, props. We’re all very impressed.

CleverName says:

Re: Re: Re:2 how do we get around this stuff?

Ahhh, what ?
lectures about labels … you are the one using labels – not me – I’m telling you that labels are bullshit.

You believe the that everyone falls into some pre defined category from which assumptions can be made.

I’m glad that you are impressed, about what I do not know.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: how do we get around this stuff?

I note the sloppy thinking equating all this resistance to change with “religious zealots” and “conservatives”…

I would like to point out that the basic definition of conservatism is an opposition to change, a wish to “conserve” things as they are and oppose change.

trollificus says:

Re: Re: Re: how do we get around this stuff?

True enough, and I would not exempt them from the charge of being resistant to change.

My point was that the validity of that charge against conservatism should not blind people to the many ways so-called progressives show their preference for top-down, central-control “solutions” to percieved problems.

And of course, as was tendentiously pointed out, any effort to make such a point suffers from the vague, nearly useless nature of any labels that use the simplistic left/right, liberal/conservative axes.

Of course, when you see the unity of Nader/Buchanan on trade or John Gray/Naomi Wolfe on the consumer society, those supposed dichotomies look more like points on a circle…

fakey mcfaker (profile) says:

Lesson: Old Foagies never change

It’s kinda fun to watch these boomer types who came of age at the dawn of sex, drugs and rock and roll go full-on foagie and start foaming at the mouth over the new new. One of my young-in-the-sixties relatives even went so far as to tell me how my generation “ruined drugs”. You see, back in her day, drugs were just a harmless passtime, but today…

MikeC (profile) says:

Just an interesting thought - Review of Replys

I said in the original post that I don’t necessarily see a causal link from the said evils to the problems of society today. I agree we lead overall better lives than 100 years ago and the establishment per say will always decry change.

In fact I think much of what we see existed always but we just hear about it more thanks to our expanded communication abilities and the fact that 20% of the population is a lot more people now that it was 100 years ago, so there is, quantitatively, more bad stuff going on. Politician’s haven’t changed at all, if you don’t believe it read some 1880-1920’s newspapers!

I also think we have dumbed down what we expect kids to accomplish and upped the opportunity for risk. If you don’t think so, read some text books from 1900 and read the ones they use today. I think this is a result of our society basically going from entropy to chaos .. ie wider swings in our norms due to a relaxation of control over our behavior. I don’t know if the is good or bad, but looking at history, the more “civilized” we become the weaker overall we become, to be replaced by a younger more vigorous rival.

I don’t have an answer except that I think each generation tries to out-rebel the previous ones, they expand the limits of what’s acceptable and it spirals to more and more (as us in the older generation see it) depravity, because we relax the controls – or it’s too much work to enforce them.

The truth is the majority of kids are just fine, but kids today just have the opportunity to take many more risks than they did 100 years ago.

Or as my old scout master taught us, to learn – study, to obtain wisdom – observe. Which is something no one would say to a kid today because they would assume they couldn’t understand it. Changed a lot in 30 years it has.

Rekrul says:

Re: Just an interesting thought - Review of Replys


Things I would never even have considered 30 years ago when I was 18 .. now are common place for 21 & 16 year old sons. Take the T-Shirts our kids wear to school, with comments and words my Dad would have tanned my rear for if I said them let alone wore them on a shirt.

You’ve just explained part of the problem. When you were a teenager, you respected/feared authority. You wouldn’t have done such things because you were afraid of the consequences. What do kids today have to be afraid of? Getting grounded? They know that their parents aren’t going to touch them because if they do, they can call Child Protective Services and have their parents investigated. In today’s world, any sort of physical punishment is considered child abuse. Even sending a child to bed hungry can be considered abuse. Children have nothing to be afraid of. Discipline, at least in most of the US has been reduced to a Monty Python skit; “Stop! Or… I’ll say stop again!”

The truth is the majority of kids are just fine, but kids today just have the opportunity to take many more risks than they did 100 years ago.

Those opportunities for risk are completely unsanctioned though. As a society, we seem to have been moving toward taking away any normal potential for risk from children’s lives, even small ones. Chemistry sets no longer contain anything that might be even slightly dangerous. All toys have to meet stringent safety guidelines. Child are no longer allowed to play unsupervised. We don’t even have the concept of “loser” anymore, every child has to be a “winner”. And if they don’t actually win anything, we make up some award for them so they won’t feel left out.

First we coddle them, then we take away a parent’s right to discipline their kids (and no, I don’t mean life-threatening beatings either), is it any wonder that many kids have no sense of right of wrong any more?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Just an interesting thought - Review of Replys

So you bring up a good point and I ask: “What is the problem then?”

I have entertained multiple theories, however it appears that in the past few years, a very intelligent person, Aaron Russo seemed to figure it out. Today, Mr. Russo is no longer with us as he battled with cancer which ultimately took his life late 2006. His research lives on, should you decide to pursue Google for it.

In one of his more recent online videos, He detailed an interesting perspective that the 1960s “Womens Movement” which was to remove the major second family unit (the Mother) from the nuclear family and put them into occupation. Ultimately, this benefited the IRS for taxation purposes as then they could collect taxes on the 2nd half of it’s population. Mr. Russo indicated that this was the actual intent, and that the whole “Womans Movement” was monetarily driven, and not socially driven.

Thusly, going forward, when you see any social movement, consider it’s effects on taxation, especially the Gay movement. Think a step or two down the road– For instance, if a Gay couple wanted a child, where would they go to procure such an individual? Perhaps they would go to China. How would that be taxed?

Point is, removal of the child from the nuclear family, and to hold them accountable to The State is a very scary thing indeed, however this seems to be the direction things are progressing towards.

The overall acceptance of broken families, one-income households shouldn’t be the typical norm, but over the years have been accepted, on a social level, has been seen as as normal.

However, as long as you fight for rights normally seen within a regular nuclear family, and support nuclear family membership, well, you have no reason to give up any rights, or support additional taxation levied upon by the state.

Until then, these kids need to see what they’re truly a product of, and keep a soft place in their heart for their missing parent, and most importantly, before they grow up, fight again for the cracks in the foundation their parents gave up so they can be the best damned Mom and Dad evah.

Some IP address says:


and you wonder why the world is such a cesspool of shit hitting the fan, bickering over inferences of the same thing.
The point remains that with ever more increases of information and the ability to access them more people are allowed to experiment because the people have learned to think. Furthermore, they are forced to think at younger and younger ages because they are shown that later on in life they will be forced to conform or stand painfully alone on the stage.

MikeC (profile) says:

Re: *sighs*

If people would actually learn to think, this would not be such a problem.. the majority have the access and opportunity, but not the discipline to make good choices.

The young are especially vulnerable because they don’t have the experience and are naturally inclined to rebel from the recommendations of the elder generation. Society due the the massive over-hype of every action/reaction now punishes more and more severely what used to be called the indescrestions of youth. The opportunity for a life altering mistake at a younger and younger age is increasing. Sexting and it’s uproar is a good example, 100 years ago, it was 2 kids in a barn or a buggy, then it was 2 kids in the backseat of a car, then it got to be a half dozen in hostel .. no pictures (can’t get them developed, everyone doesn’t carry a camera, no easy way to distribute them), now one text with a pic from a readily available cell phone camera (even if it’s not theirs and they didn’t now about it), a bit of bad judgement at a party and it’s worldwide on the internet w/no way to take it back. Then some idiot grandstanding prosecutor makes them a lifelong sex offender at 17 with a charge of child pornography. Plus it’s on the news worldwide and Nancy Grace (she needs to get a life) covers it every night for 6 months on cable TV.

That’s where the problem lies and that is where the 6 sigma range of the bell curve of reactions is killing us. It’s not the middle 4 sigma, it’s the outside 5% at each pole that is getting more and more outrageous. More dangerous acts, more knee-jerk grandstanding punishments like no-tolerance polices that get a kid suspended because they brought a butter knife to cut a school birthday cake, or a kid charged with a sex crime for some activity between a 15yo & a 17yo that has been going on since the dawn of time. It will only get worse and each side whips up more passion and daring. Not one piece of common sense applied because it’s the next news cycle or election that is what everyone is concerned about.

Well I’ve taken this subject about as far as it can go… have a nice day/night/evening/morning or whatever ya’all.

herodotus (profile) says:

Anyone who thinks that the world of today is in any way socially inferior to the world of 1900 is either an unrepentant oligarch or is just plain ignorant of history.

The only class of people who are worse off now than they were then are hereditary aristocrats. Every other class of people has more educational opportunities, more and cheaper and safer food, cheaper clothing, and much better sanitation.

There is a reason that Communism and Anarchism became so popular in the late 19th century: life sucked for almost everyone.

timstevens (profile) says:

Wexler hopes to be important...some day

When I lived in Florida, Wexler was trying to be one of the “up and coming democrats to watch.” Problem was he was always clobbered by either his TV opponent or his own stupidity.

Case in point was when he appeared on the Colbert Report and was quickly shown to be a fool. Remember the “fun things with cocaine and prostitutes gag?” Good ‘ol Wexler!

Just as young males make the case for not allowing any teenager to drive a car, Wexler is a good example of why congressmen need “spokes-holes” and “handlers.” Always trying to shove their foot into their mouth and then their head up their butt.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Wexler hopes to be important...some day

Case in point was when he appeared on the Colbert Report and was quickly shown to be a fool. Remember the “fun things with cocaine and prostitutes gag?” Good ‘ol Wexler!

I have to admit that I actually found that Colbert bit amusing and endearing, showing that he wasn’t a usual stiff politician. I don’t think it’s shown him to be a fool at all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Here, let’s add a great quote:

For years, many news sources would pretend that no other websites existed and all news would start and end on their own domain. However, over time, people are realizing that just because you link off-site, it doesn’t mean that the people will leave and never come back. In fact, some have found the opposite reaction. People pay more attention to sites that link around, because they feel they’re getting a wider spectrum of coverage – and not just the one publication’s point of view. It’s the basic “filter” argument. Many people don’t want to surf around the entire web, but prefer to have a single source filter it for them. Open minded publications are realizing this, while others still insist that they can pretend to be the only publication online.

An amazing comment from 2003. Oh how times change.

The original anonymous who posted that quote says:

Wow Mike, thanks, I never thought you’d find it amusing enough to repost! And yeah, sorry I forgot to mention the source, it was Wired indeed (for most of the quotes). With all due respect, I’d like to remain anonymous (just in case you’d want to pay me in gold coins 🙂

But here’s another amusing snippet for you. Quoting by hear, since I don’t have it written down, nor do I remember the author (other than the vague notion that it’s one of big names in sci-fi):

“The evolution of a man’s views on new discoveries/technology:
* age 0-18: that’s how it has always been!
* age 18-35: that’s new and exciting!
* age 35-onwards: that’s a violation of an existing order, and must be destroyed!”

Given that most, if not all, of our (and the world’s, too) politicians are in the third group… you see where I lead. 😉

Lohocla says:

today vs yesterday

Some of it has merit, most don’t realize it because taken literally, most of it seems pretty absurd.

Yesterday = People used to live in a “community” mentality..good or bad, people were together.

Today = Internet/Telephone connect us to people all over the world, yet most of us dont know the 2nd or third thing about the person living next to us.

Yesterday = parenting was performed by parents

Today = kids are pawned off onto whatever platform keeps them occupied long enough for parents to do whatever they want…xbox, internet, telephones etc.

Yesterday = personal responsibility was do something stupid, you took it on the chin and learned.

Today = personal responsibility forgotten, Mommy gov will make the bad thing go away, even if it is something someone else has no problem with and enjoys.

Yesteray = Mom and Pop stores reigned supreme…you could go to 10 different stores and eventually find just the thing you were looking for (right size, color, capacity whatever). Not only that, except for the cheapy toys from china and electronics from japan, just about everything was made in the US.

Today = Mom and Pop stores went the way of the dodo…you could go to 10 different stores looking for “just the right thing” and have go settle for “what they have” because they all have exactly the same products and everything is from china.

Absurd observation: Our store sells “USA” bracelets that are Red White and Blue and have the US flag on them….and a big tag hanging off “made in china”.

No wonder people are disillusioned.


Michael L. Slonecker (profile) says:

Mr. Masnick,

Merely for your edification, as a general rule I do submit posts on professional blogs using my complete name. Now seems to be an appropriate time to follow my general rule on your site. No more “AC” or “MLS”.

As for my “avatar”, I use it merely in a humorous vein. I could use a photo, but for some reason I like the painting “The Scream” so much better.

JC says:

Here is a far older quote, that is very similar

The world is passing through troubling times. The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they knew everything, and what passes for wisdom with us is foolishness with them. As for the girls, they are forward, immodest and unladylike in speech, behavior and dress.
– Peter the Hermit, 700 AD

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words… When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly disrespectful and impatient of restraint.
– Hesiod, 700 BC

Our earth is degenerate in these latter days; there are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end; bribery and corruption are common; children no longer obey their parents; every man wants to write a book and the end of the world is evidently approaching.

– Assyrian tablet, 2800 BC

We live in a decaying age. Young people no longer respect
their parents. They are rude and impatient. They frequently
inhabit taverns and have no self control.
– Egyptian tomb, 4000 BC

Cabalamat (user link) says:

The disturbing material in Grand Theft Auto and other games like it is stealing the innocence of our children and it’s making the difficult job of being a parent even harder … I believe that the ability of our children to access pornographic and outrageously violent material on video games rated for adults is spiraling out of control. — US senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, 2005

“Oh look, a bandwaggon, let’s jump on it”

Is there anything Clinton wouldn’t say, wouldn’t do, if she thought there was votes in it?

hegemon13 says:

Political speech

“All child drug addicts, and all children drawn into the narcotics traffic as messengers, with whom we have had contact, were inveterate comic-book readers…”

Well, we have seemed to learn one thing, at least. Modern politicians have learned to avoid ridiculous absolutes like the one above, which will inevitably come back to damage their credibility.

That said, I think the truth is in the balance between the quotes and the point of this article. I do not believe that media alone is responsible for the “downward spiral” of society, but it is definitely part of the influence. Seeing violence on TV or a video game will not make someone go out and commit a violent act. However, a general attitude of acceptance, and even glorification, of violence grows up around constant exposure to real violence.

Does media violence have a similar, though less potent, effect? I don’t know. I can say that I watch more than my share of violent horror movies, and the violence does not bother me at all. But the moment I see real blood, especially my own, I get all queasy and light in the head. That effect has actually gotten worse, not better, as I have gotten older. So for me, at least, I would say that simulated violence definitely does NOT translate into real-life desensitization.

I think the problems with violent and sexualized media are more ambiguous. They don’t cause an immediate, compulsive change in an individual, but they do slowly transform the collective society mentality to accept the previously unacceptable. What is yesterday’s “edgy” quickly becomes tomorrow’s “banal.”

chris (profile) says:

“It is said that what is called the Spirit of an Age is something to which one cannot return. That this spirit gradually dissipates is due to the world’s coming to an end. In the same way, a single year does not have just spring or summer. A single day, too, is the same. For this reason, although one would like to change today’s world back to the spirit of one hundred years or more ago, it cannot be done. Thus it is important to make the best out of every generation.”

— Hagukare

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