GOP Platform Criticizes Media 'Cultural Pollution'

By Bruce Sullivan | July 7, 2008 | 8:26 PM EDT

Philadelphia ( - Although not a major part of the 2000 Republican platform, media sex and violence - and its powerful negative impact on children - is cited in the 81-page document as an environmental health risk that some convention attendees say is a step in the right direction.

"Just as environmental pollution affects our physical health, so too does the pollution of our culture affect the health of our communities," says the GOP platform in the section addressing the party's stance on families and the community.

"There is much to celebrate in contemporary culture, but also much to deplore: The glorification of violence, the glamorizing of drugs, the abuse of women and children, whether in music or videos, advertising, or tabloid journalism. Still, there are individuals and organizations using their power as citizens and consumers to advance a cultural renewal in all aspects of American life. We support them and applaud them," continues the platform.

One of those individuals actively fighting against media violence is Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), who is leading a bipartisan drive in Congress to get the entertainment industry to clean up its own act. Last month, Brownback hosted a Capitol Hill summit on the effects of media violence on children, calling it a "public health hazard."

In Philadelphia, Brownback said that he was pleased that the platform addressed the issue of media violence, but he said that he has not yet received any response from the entertainment industry. "In a way, that is good news," said Brownback. "For the first time, they have not launched any negative attacks."

At the summit on media violence, representatives of the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Medical Association said that media violence causes aggressive behavior in some children.

"The conclusion of the public health community, based on over 30 years of research, is that viewing entertainment violence can lead to increases in aggressive attitudes, values and behavior, particularly in children," the groups said in a joint statement.

"Prolonged viewing of all types of media violence can lead to emotional desensitization toward real-world violence and the victims of violence," said J Edward Hill, MD, an American Medical Association trustee, attending Brownback's summit.

Also in Philadelphia for the convention, Moral Majority founder Reverend Jerry Falwell lauded the GOP platform, saying that media sex and violence is a critical health issue that must be addressed by politicians in the same manner that many of them have attacked the tobacco industry.

"There is no question that gratuitous sex and violence affects the national lifestyle," said Falwell. "And they are hurting a generation of young people, badly."

Falwell said that one way to get the entertainment industry to police themselves would be to hold them legally responsible, where possible, for the effects of their products.

"Why not sue them like the tobacco companies?" asked Falwell. "The fact is that television does influence behavior."