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Brainwashed by Media Violence?
Robert J. Maxwell9 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This episode is about as skillfully executed as any of the others in the first decade but is more than usually interesting because of its subject. A charming serial murderer is brought it, defended by a famous Harvard law professor (read Alan Dershowitz)who claims that his client was driven to homicide by lengthy exposure to violence on television when he was growing up.

McCoy's counter argument is that the majority of kids grew up with violent images but became decent citizens or even conscientious objectors.

The story raises two important questions. One is whether exposure to violence in the media prompts us to behave violently. Of course it does. Every social psychologist would agree to that. But it only affects some of us, not all of us, in such a way as to lead to violent behavior on our part. Any two matched cities across the northern border from each other are likely to watch the same shows, but the American city is likely to have eight time the homicide rate of the Canadian city.

There may be a dozen or more easily identifiable things that create a predisposition to violence, and the media is only one of them. McCoy's position is that TV is unimportant; the Dershowitz figure's position is that it's the main determinant in the case.

That brings up the second important question. McCoy's position depends on free will. Some of us choose to follow the models we see on TV, while others choose not to. This gets us into metaphysics. (What the heck is free will?) And, if we dismiss free will, it gets us into a conundrum of a different color. If we can explain a behavior by identifying its environmental causes, is there any such thing as "guilt"?
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Lab experiment for the dead bang guilty
bkoganbing3 January 2018
In a case based on the Andrew Cunanan spree serial killings Mitchell Lichtenstein, an aging party boy is charged with the murder of five people, two in the New York County jurisdiction and investigated by Jerry Orbach and Benjamin Bratt. I've run into a few like Lichtenstein who don't turn homicidal. But believe me there's nothing more pitiful than one who is showing his age as Lichtenstein and trying to act 21 again. There's always someone younger and prettier coming up, a universal constant like death and taxes.

But this particular case is turned into a lab experiment by his pro bono defense attorney, Alan Dershowitz like Dennis Boutsikaris. Since the man is dead bang guilty he wants to try a new and different kind of defense. Prolonged exposure to TV violence as a kid made him value human life less.

A defense like this abrogates personal responsibility, something that Sam Waterston just can't allow.

In real life Andrew Cunanan never lived for a trial preferring to take his own life as law enforcement closed in. God only knows had he taken his chances with the criminal justice system what might the outcome have been.

Hey, Twinkies worked for Dan White.
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