CNN Exploits Beating Death of 7 Year Old to Demonize Christians and Apologize for Criminals
Dr. Stanton E. Samenow, a clinical psychologist and author of Inside the Criminal Mind, disagrees, citing the fact that thousands of people own this book and have not killed their children. He says responsibility for the act lies with the criminal, not with anyone else.
"What is critical here is not what is in the book, but what is in the mind of the alleged perpetrator. There we come to the focal point: what is the personality of the defendant? The book could say anything, but the issue is, how is it perceived and how does it fit in with the personality of the alleged perpetrator."
While the book clearly influences the reader, it is not to be blamed for the actions the reader takes after reading it. It is the personality of the reader that will decide how to incorporate what they read into their already developed, and possibly malformed, belief system.
In other words, it is the decision the criminal makes, not the contents of a book or movie, that is responsible for any crime, no matter how heinous.
Samenow gives an example of how different personalities react to what they are exposed to:
"There are thousands of parents who would not consider reading a book that advises corporal punishment because it's antithetical to their notion as to how to raise children. There are others that might read the book out of curiosity, dismiss the ideas, and it would have no influence at all. And then there might be some who already have a certain set of ideas on how to raise children and they find those beliefs reinforced by the book they choose to read. But the book doesn't create violence out of nothing."
Samenow is adamant it is not the media but the individual that is responsible for the crime. As he wrote in Inside the Criminal Mind,
A person already thinking about committing crimes may pick up ideas from the media or become more certain about the feasibility of a particular crime. But a responsible person will not be turned into a criminal by what he watches or reads.
It all comes down to the individual. You have seen things that you might consider vile. It was your set of beliefs that repulsed you when others with a profoundly different personality would be aroused. The stimulus wasn't any different, but the reaction to it was, based on the personality of the individual.
The acts of the Schatzs cannot be held against the Pearls anymore than the acts of Hinckley can be held against Martin Scorsese.
Every individual reacts differently to stimulus. Some commit crimes too awful for others to imagine. Others walk away from the same exposure and live a life most would call normal.
For example, how many people saw Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers? I did. Several times. I have yet to go on a nationwide killing rampage. I made the choice not to because I'm a responsible person with occasional bad taste in movies. But I'm not a criminal.
Movies, music, books, and video games do not create criminals, but criminals might be drawn to specific titles. If there's a correlation, that is it. But you cannot blame the stimulus for the reaction. The reaction is a choice made by an individual. But apparently this isn't as interesting a story for Anderson Cooper and CNN.