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Head Blow Causing Death Blamed On Media Exposure

P.O. Box 13-683 Johnsonville
E-mail SPCSNZ@hotmail.com

Media Release
June 11, 2003

Head blow causing death blamed on exposure to media violence.

A teenager's exposure to violent films and video games has been advanced by his defense lawyer, Ron Mansfield, in a recent Court of Appeal case as the reason why his client did not understand that a blow to the head could kill. The teen, Alexander Peihopa, was found guilty last year of murdering Mr Michael Choy, a pizza delivery man, during a planned robbery in Papakura in 2001. Mansfied, argued that his client had not intended to seriously injure Mr Choy, despite hitting him with the bat to stop him calling for help during the robbery. This was because his exposure to violent television, games and music videos had taught him incorrect "consequences of violence ... [and] he lacked the appreciation of the consequences of his actions." (Dominion Post 11/6/03, A4).

The Society for the Promotion of Community Standards has battled for over 20 years to inform the public of the injurious and harmful impact of violent films and videos on many viewers especially young people and those adults with a propensity to violence. It is appalled at the number of films, videos and computer games featuring graphic violence that are being classified for release by the Office of Film and Literature Classification, headed by Chief Censor Bill Hastings, to those 16 years and over. It has informed censorship compliance officers for some time now that violent R18 video games like "grand Theft Auto" are regularly being purchased and accessed by children under 18 years of age.

The objectives of the Society include: To focus attention on the harmful nature and consequences of exposure to pornography and violence and to uphold and press for the proper enforcement of applicable law and its ammendment where the law is ineffective.

The Society has argued its case before parliamentary select committees and the Film and Literature Board of Review, that the increasing exposure by the public to the glorification and glamourisation of graphic violence and brutal sexual violence, desensitises many to its harmful impact and only exacerbates the problem further. It believes that the Chief Censor, Bill Hastings, whose position comes up for review in October this year, and many of his fellow censors, appear to be a victims of this desensitisation process, based on the inept classification decisions being regularly issued.

The rapid growth rate in films being released by his Office depicting brutal sexual violence (e.g. Baise-Moi, Irreversible, Visitor Q), copycat suicides (eg. Suicide Circle), and the exploitation of young persons for sexual purposes and scenes involving extreme violence and drug taking (e.g. Ken Park, Bully), do nothing to assure the general public that the Classification Office has any real understanding of its social responsibility or comprehension of its statutory duty to apply corrrectly section 3 of the Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act (1993).

The Society predicts that with the Classification Office's continuing failure to apply the law and the lack of effective action on the part of enforcement agencies, more and more teens with be committing criminal acts and using in Court the line of defence used by Peihopa's lawyer.

Any tendency in films, videos or computer games to promote or support violence, including sexual violence, particularly when the overriding dominiant effect upon viewers is to "challenge" them with the constant juxtaposing of images of graphic violence and explicit sex (e.g. Baise-Moi), should necessitate excisions and/or banning of the publications.

Now that Bill Hastings has allowed scenes of necrophilia (e.g. Visitor Q), autoerotic asphyxiation (Ken Park), anal rape of a pregant young woman by a homosexual (Irreversible) and other "objectionable" matters onto the public screen under R18 ratings, it won't be long before such scenes will be open to 16 and 17 year olds. Maybe young people convicted of rape etc. will have a new line of defence and point the finger at Chief Censor Bill Hastings for 'causing' them to be exposed to such material.


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