Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Pot Smoking Cannibal Zombie Killers...

The stereotypes keep coming thick and fast where crime is concerned. In reporting the verdict of a recent double murder case, in which two teenagers were knifed to death by their friend, the media kept emphasising the fact that the murderer had been 'obsessed with knives, martial arts and horror films', as if any of those things could turn you into a killer. They also threw in the fact that he was a cannabis user before noting that it had been suspected that he might have had mental health problems. Once again, it is all in the implications. Just because there isn't any conclusive evidence that smoking pot turns you into a psychotic killer, doesn't mean that the media can't imply it. It's the same with the implied link between watching horror films and violence, studies have consistently failed to establish a link between the two - but that doesn't worry the press.

Now, I'm no expert on cannabis - I've only smoked a couple of joints in my life, one of which made me extremely ill, the other had no discernible effect at all. I decided I preferred beer - but I've always found that it tends to make people mellow, rather than violent. OK, I know that basing a conclusion on the tiny number of cannabis users I've actually observed isn't exactly scientific, but I'm just following the lead of the press here. As for the horror films - well, I've been watching quite a few Italian zombie movies on DVD of late, and I can honestly say that I haven't been gripped by the urge to rip out people's brains and eat them. Watching such films with their patently fake gore has never moved anyone to murder. Not even those so-called 'video nasties' (most of which are now available, legally, on DVD), which all look pretty laughable nowadays. Perhaps the media have got the cause and effect the wrong way around - the obsessive viewing of such films might be a symptom of mental disturbance, but most probably not the cause. If it was the other way around, then surely certain newspapers should be banned from showing pictures of semi-naked young ladies, as it could incite impressionable youngsters to commit sex offences?

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