Plenty of evidence of the effect of violent media
Simon Leeds (Letters, December 20) reckons I can't provide a ''shred of evidence'' to support a linkage between extreme media violence and gun deaths. I beg to differ. There is a mountain of scholarly work linking pornographic films with violence, particularly when we focus on young males between 18 and 24. A comprehensive 2009 study by Alexy, Burgess and Prentky, Pornography as a Risk Marker for an Aggressive Pattern of Behaviour, shows that sex offenders in the age bracket were more likely to display aggressive behaviour than their non-using counterparts.
As to violent videos, perhaps Leeds is unaware of the 2007 work of professors Anderson, Gentile and Buckley, Violent Video Games, which draws the link very clearly. Their work was in sync with the American Psychological Association's 2005 resolution calling for a reduction of video violence. Leeds doesn't believe these findings because he has seen a statistic which says total deaths from gun violence in the US has declined even as the popularity of movies which portray extreme hatred and violence has increased. I believe this total figure glosses over important changes which grieving Americans well understand and which is pertinent to a discussion about who is most likely to be most affected by glamorous depictions of extreme violence.
Put simply, the gun violence has moved from the mean streets into the schools. As the first line of the Wikipedia entry under ''List of school shootings'' notes: ''Prior to 1989, there were only a handful of incidents in which two or more non-perpetrators were killed by firearms at a school … From 1989 to 2012, there have been at least 40 such incidents.'' In my view that's quite a ''shred'' … but there's more. Research just published by the US National School Safety and Security Services reveals that, just by compiling media reports, it can be shown that between 2000 and 2010, there were more than 120 attempted or planned assaults on schools which were prevented by authorities.
Leeds is happy to endorse Quentin Tarantino's cynical indifference to the impact his work has on vulnerable minds and its wider corrosive social destructiveness. I'm not and I find his callousness at this time of immense tragedy of a piece with the vulgarity of his work.
Chris Williams, Griffith
Let's be clear about the ''right to bear arms''. The US constitution does not give individuals the right to own whatever weapons they like and to shoot anyone. When the US tried to form a federal government, the states would not take part unless they had an assurance that they could arm themselves against attack from the federal government.
WA had something of the same attitude when the Australian Federation was cobbled together. After all, people here studied the US constitution as a possible model. But after a century in which the ''right to bear arms'' had underpinned the American Civil War, we (and the British Parliament) gave the ''right to bear arms'' to defend any one of the states only to the federal government.
No Australian state has, or can have, its own army. American states did, and constitutionally could, and fought the federal government over the issue of the ''right to hold people as slaves''.
America's states are not united as Australian states are by the division of powers between the states and the Commonwealth, and the overriding powers of the Commonwealth.
Worse, the wording of the US constitution is confusing. The intention clearly was that ''the people'' who might bear arms would be ''militias'' instituted by a state, if and only if the state saw itself as being under threat. The other model for this kind of arrangement is Switzerland.
There is no individual ''right'' to bear arms for any other purpose.
We are lucky we only took the Senate arrangement from the Americans, which was supposed to maintain a semblance of independence for the states. A state may have a police force that may be armed, but that's the limit. Perhaps the US President needs to return the favour and now look to Australia for guidance.
Frank McKone, Holt
It is very disappointing to see that the opportunity for a reflective end-of-year interview with the Chief Minister was wasted by a rehashing of the grubby politics of the Canberra Hospital statistics manipulation issue (''No regrets on scandal: Gallagher'', December 28, p1). Surely this wasn't the only subject covered in the interview? What about a mention of a few of the achievements in the health area such as the opening of the new mental health facility, the new hospital for women and children and the soon-to-be-completed Capital Region Cancer Centre? And don't forget that Katy Gallagher had other ministerial responsibilities. To me the article was just too tabloid-like, starting with the extravagantly bold headline.
E.L. Fisher, Kambah
From experience …
I must correct A. Wilkinson (Letters, December 27). The German V2 arrived without warning; if it was really close, either you heard it or you were dead. It was the V1s that would putter past; again if you heard or saw them, as we often did in Hampshire, they were safe until the engine stopped and they fell to the ground to explode. So when we heard the engine stop, we took cover. Our area was mostly farmland and so most V weapons did no damage but we had a tragedy one evening when one landed on our village's (Lower Clacton) only pub and killed all drinking quietly inside. The Blitz had been much more terrifying, there were lots of explosions and usually it went on for a long time.
In total war the civilian populations were deemed suitable targets, to sap the opposition's will to fight.
John Daly, Lyons
Rules on the fly
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is considering whether Qantas should be allowed to ''integrate its operations more closely with those of its … subsidiary Jetstar'' (''Qantas integration'', December 15, pB8). Why? Surely a company can decide the relationship between it and a 100 per cent-owned subsidiary it creates to perform some function (possibly as an alternative to creating a new division within the company) , without interference from the competition regulator?
The Competition Act outlaws arrangements between companies only if they ''substantially lessen [market] competition''. If the subsidiary was created to operate in a different market from the parent company, obviously they're not in competition at all! Thus it's hard to imagine how dealings between a parent company and its subsidiary can in any circumstances ''substantially lessen competition in a market''. Why then should the ACCC be involved at all?
R.S. Gilbert, Braddon
Debate heats up
Reading Brian Hatch's continuing assertion that global warming is not happening (most recently on December 27) reminded me of a saying by my (Scottish) grandfather ''There's none sae blind as those that will nae see.'' Quite simply he is wrong in claiming that there has been no global warming over the past 15 years. Over that time the trend of global temperatures, unfortunately, continues upward. The evidence for climate change does not rest solely on that fact but requires consideration of the overall heat balance for the planet.
The evidence for continued heating of the planet includes rising sea levels, increased ocean heat storage and continuing melting of glaciers and sea ice.
Doug Hynd, Stirling
The recent article (''The Jennings Germans; our postwar miracle'', Times2, December 18, pp4-5) and correspondence about the contribution of Jenning's Germans to Canberra's housing in the 1950s extended much further in later years to the making of superb furniture for the ANU, the Academy of Science, the National Library and probably other projects.
Some of ''Jenning's Germans'' were skilled cabinet makers, as were a few others who worked on the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electricity Scheme and settled in the Canberra area, started their own businesses and introduced their European craft skills into Australian society. All this coincided with remarkable serendipity during the 1950s when Fred Ward, Australia's pioneer furniture designer, arrived in Canberra to furnish University House in the ANU.
To commemorate this input during Canberra's centenary celebrations, a presentation event is being planned at the Gallery of Australian Design, Parkes, next year and I would like to get in touch with any local cabinet makers who arrived from Europe about that time and remembers working on furniture for these projects. It would be most helpful if these ''quiet achievers'' could email me (asap) with a few details of what they did so I can include their names in my book about Fred Ward and send invitations.
Derek F. Wrigley, Mawson
Joseph Wakim (''Obligation to respect, not share, our faiths'', December 28, p15) is mistaken. This commonly held view we should respect what we don't believe promotes mealy-mouthed hypocrisy. What we should respect is fundamental human rights like freedom of religion and freedom of expression.
He considers the call for a Christmas fatwa, and the ''Behead all those who insult the prophet'' placard as merely ''public relations damage to the Muslim community''. His recommendation to Muslims is to ''think twice before borrowing from overseas contexts''. Mr Wakim can't see the elephant in the room. The ''overseas contexts'' list is long and nasty. Islam is the foundation for autocratic bullying, to varying degrees, in many countries.
All we need do is tolerate religions we don't believe in; judge people as we find them; and keep arbitrary religious proscriptions out of public legislature.
Peter Robinson, Ainslie
TO THE POINT
Remember the animals
When making your New Year's resolutions for 2013 why not resolve to be kind to animals - by not eating them. The animals we so casually and callously slaughter for their flesh want to live every bit as much as we do.
Jenny Moxham, Monbulk, Vic
Hostage made his bed
Warren Rodwell, an Australian, has spent many years in Asia, and chose to take a Filipina national as his partner and to [call] the Philippines home. He's now being held hostage by a rebel group (''Video gives hope of hostage deal'', December 28, p2) which wants $2 million for his release.
It will be frowned upon by many as jettisoning a national, but in this case I will make an exception because I feel he has made his bed and now he has to lie in it.
D.J. Fraser, Mudgeeraba, Qld
Heading not funny
Since the young Tunisian died after eating 28 raw eggs at a sitting, it was distasteful to joke about it with the heading ''The yoke's on him'' (December 28, p8), which incidentally betrayed the ignorance of the sub-editor who wrote it. Eggs have yolks, not yokes.
Michael Travis, Cook
Missing the point
Computers can't think: that is the point Dr Garrett (Letters, December 28) makes, and he is right. But the heading to his letter, ''Faster computers will not accelerate our destruction'', misses his point completely and brings in a different matter, not touched on in his letter. Sub-editors are becoming scarce, so there is reason to suspect that the misleading heading was computer-generated. That would be further evidence that computers cannot think.
Thomas Mautner, Griffith
Fire up the offerings
Jo Hann (Letters, December 28) is half right about Christians at Christmas hijacking pagan rituals.
If the truth were known, the Yuletide pagan ritual began with the discovery of fire.
You can still see it everywhere, especially in the backyard at mum's on Christmas Day arvo - when dad ritually serves up steak and snags as burnt offerings.
What better way for a Christian to celebrate the birth of Christ after the morning's due respects are paid?
John Bell, Lyneham
Not easy being green
Your perceptive editorial (''A kinder, gentler Greens revealed'', December 28, p14) reminds us that many Greens came from a disenchanted Labor left. Where will they go now?
Barrie Smillie, Duffy