Things To Act
Tuesday, May 25, 2004
 
Violence
The Baron of Deseret discusses Violent Movies and the Passion, which reminds me of an item I've had on my list of things to wonder about since the last Passion debates.

The For the Strength of Youth pamphlet (which, in my last ward at least, was held up as some sort of universal standard for BYU students as well as youth, though that debate is only of limited relevance for purposes of this post) has the following to say about violence in its "Entertainment and the Media" section:

"Do not attend, view, or participate in entertainment that is vulgar, immoral, violent, or pornographic in any way. Do not participate in entertainment that in any way presents immorality or violent behavior as acceptable.

...

"Depictions of violence often glamorize vicious behavior. They offend the Spirit and make you less able to respond to others in a sensitive, caring way. They contradict the Savior's message of love for one another."

Most of this is pretty straightforward. However, the budding lawyer in me notices the phrasing of "do not ... participate in entertainment that is ... violent ... in any way. Taken literally, wouldn't this preclude:
*watching fictional vampires get dusted on Buffy
*reading Fool's Fate, which, while not focused solely on violence, has the occasional violent scene (as does most of my reading of choice, come to think of it)
*smacking the Princess with a red shell on Mario Kart
*killing animated monsters by whacking them with a sword in Zelda
*killing animated monsters by swinging a sword in their general direction in some earlier graphics-challenged RPGs
*reading Ender’s Game (interstellar war), Saints (attempted rape), Red Prophet (massacres and mutilations), etc.
*and so on... (we can exclude the war chapters in the BOM or the Armor of God seminary video as being intended for non-entertainment purposes)

Now perhaps all of these things are wrong, and I'm just a gross sinner. But on the other hand, considering how many LDS youth (and adults) do these things, one would thing the message to not do these things would be a bit more strident if they were genuinely wrong in the same way that the vulgar, immoral, and pornographic entertainment decried in that section are. Or one could argue that perhaps the literal meaning is not intended in the above-quoted passage--but past experience has suggested to me that the Brethren do pay careful attention to word choice and literal meanings in Important Publications (the discussions, at least). Or perhaps using violence for entertainment in any way is wrong, but the mild forms aren't very wrong compared to everything else we need to repent of, so they don't get much focus.

This Ensign article from last June discusses violence, but not in a way that seems to resolve the question of where exactly the bright line is drawn (if line-drawing is even possible).

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