What happens when you rip Terror from the headlines? Does it
reflect the good or the bad of humanity? Does it feed or starve
the Beast of Terror. One television show thrives on the Beast of
Terror's thirst to kill, maim and rip other human beings to pieces,
but is it a Forum of Vigilance or one of Terror? Find out.
23, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 588
Ripping Terror From The Headlines
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York City, Apr. 23--Tecnology instills Terrorism in our
society. It plants the seed of Terror in the fertile minds of
our youth, fertilizing the future of the Beast of Terror.
It can be said Terrorism is ripped from the headlines, and spoon fed
to the innocent, the pliable and booby trapping them into future acts
One example of the
"sowing of Terror Seeds" comes from the Illinois Center
for Violence, a non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention of
interpersonal violence, including family violence (child, partner, and
elder abuse); sexual assault; youth violence; gang and gun violence;
and hate crimes.
The Center holds that
Terrorism's mulch invades the homes of millions of American children
each day as a result of modern technology--specifically television.
Its studies show the burden a child undergoes as he or she sifts
through countless acts of violence during the maturation process, and
suggests a direct link between violent (Terroristic) behavior and the
programs children watch. Below are some of the Center's
statistics on violent television viewing.
From Illinois Center for Violence
The average youngster in the
United States aged 2-5 years is watching about 27 hours of television
per week or most four hours a day (1) and a typical child will watch
8,000 murders and 100,000 acts of violence on television before
completing elementary school (2) Young violent offenders report that,
as children, they were watching an average of 6 hours of television
|During one day of television viewing in 1992, the Center for
Media and Public Affairs reported that there were 1,846 scenes
containing violent episodes with serious assaults occurring in
21 percent of the scenes. Gun play was featured in 20 percent of
the scenes followed by isolated punches and pushing which each
appeared in 15 percent of the scenes. Menacing threats with
weapons were made in 12 percent of the scenes observed.(11)|
|In 1980, the most violent television shows in the nation
tended to portray 15 to 20 violent incidents per hour. By 1992,
twenty-five percent of the prime-time shows in the schedule were
"very violent" and many programs were showing 40 or more violent
incidents per hour. One program "Young Indiana Jones" led the
field with 60 incidents in an hour.(12)|
There is one
television show, however, that makes it a mission to expose the
underbelly of violence, and to illustrate the high price one pays when
the law of human justice is violated.
That show is Law & Order.
my wife and I attended a "fan club" celebration of Law &
Order, at New York University. Two of its major stars sat on a panel, along with the
executive producer and a well known television writer.
Law and Order
celebrated its 300th episode and was honored by the city of New
celebrated the 300th Law & Order episode shot on location in New
York City this month. Law & Order is the longest-running drama
series on primetime television, and holds the record for consecutive
outstanding Emmy nominations. It is tied with "Cheers" and "M*A*S*H at 11
Each show begins with the Voice
of Steve Zirnkilton narrating the opening with his famous prologue:
|"In the criminal justice system, the
people are separated by two separate yet equally important
groups--the police who investigate crime and the District
Attorneys who prosecute the offenders. These are their
In attendance was
Michael Chernuchin, executive producer, moderator J. Max Robins,
Senior Editor, TV Guide, S. Epatha Merkerson who plays a black woman
lieutenant, and its
chief actor prosecutor, Sam Waterson.
Put on by the Center for
Communications and sponsored by Court TV, the seminar was packed by
what promotion literature claims is the "smartest and most loyal
demographic in television."
Waterson, who plays Jack McCoy
said that the show will continue
to thrive as long as human beings have an infinite imagination to kill
other human beings. His comment was chilling. It was
the truth, for as long as the Beast of Terror goes unchecked,
unmanaged and unbridled, he will rear his ugly head and attack the
least likely, the most unsuspecting of victims.
Chernuchin is a Peabody Award winner with four Emmy nominations
Adding to his
comment, Chernuchin, a Peabody Award winner who has acquired four Emmy
nominations for his writing, said that writers don't use much
imagination to come up with story ideas. "Our bible," he said,
"is the front page of the New York Post."
Law & Order is known for
"ripping its stories" from the headlines of newspapers.
When a murder or major crime occurs and hits the front page, it is almost immediately
converted to a Law & Order show. "Reality is far more
fascinating than fiction," Chernuchin said. He noted the
only time the show hesitated to air a story "ripped from the
headlines" was during the Washington D.C. sniper rampage that took 13
"We waited until the sniper was
caught," he said. "We didn't want to feed his ego."
At a Standing Room Only crowd in New
York University's Tisch Hall, Waterson shuffled around the question of
whether the media--specifically television--led society's tastes by promoting violence, or
whether it was driven to only report what already exists, acting only
as a mirror to human madness rather than a creator of it. He didn't come up
with a definitive answer and took the safe middle ground, suggesting
it was a trade off between the media pulling the public toward
violence by airing so much of it, and, the natural nature of man- and
womankind to perform acts of violence simply from their nature.
Merkerson represented a black woman role model in the media,
capable of filling a lead role
S. Epatha Merkerson who
portrays police Lt. Anita Van Buren, has been on the show for a
decade. She cited how she had a negative attitude toward
police, the law, and any concept of justice before being picked to
head up the detective team that represents the first half of every Law
& Order episode. The show's formula is to show the actual
crime being committed in the first half, and the prosecution of it in
the second half.
Ms. Merkerson represents the team of
Law & Order TerrorHunters that include Lenny Brisco (Jerry Orbach) and Green (Jesse L. Martin).
Their jobs are to hunt down and arrest the
criminal in the first half and then turn the "perf" rover
She also noted she represented a
black woman role model in the media, capable of filling a lead role.
She said she only watched the second half of the show - the part that
didn't involve her character.
One of the key questions raised by
Law and Order is the degree of violence in America and the world, and
whether or not it is rising or falling.
Arguments hail on either side, but
one thing is sure, that the imagination of the human mind to inflict
pain and suffering on other human beings is endless.
When writer Chernuchin was asked what
was his favorite story regarding "killing," he had to pause and think.
"There are so many," he said, holding his forehead in thought.
Law & Order isn't a fat format.
That is, sometimes the "bad guy" wins and gets off, "just like in real
life," Waterson said. Waterson never watches the show.
Unlike most dramas, the
audience knows very little about the characters' personal lives.
"We don't delve into what's behind the personality," Waterson said.
"It's like reading a book. Something transpires between the
reader and the words on the page. You create your own
opinion about the character by watching."
The issue on the table
about Law & Order is Terror. Does it promote or inhibit Terror?
Does it "headline it?"
has starred in film, television and on stage, earning critical
acclaim and a host of awards
"Who knows..." responded
Waterson, shrugging his shoulders ala Jack McCoy. "Who
But someone does know.
In a world of violence,
the L&O show's success is in part about the moral hunt to prosecute
bad acts. It is about civilization wrestling with
the Beast of Terror in his most primitive environment--murder, death,
brutality of one human being to another.
If there is one major benefit
the show presents to the world, it is that the Sentinels of Vigilance,
both represented by the police on one side and the prosecution on the
other, have an endless task of chasing the Beast of Terror down.
But where the show falls short
is that it doesn't rip out the roots of Terrorism, it only cuts down
already grown trees.
The roots of Terrorism begin at home,
in the formation of the child's attitude toward himself or herself and
If a child is treated as a nail, and
the parents act as a hammer, then the child will probably grow up the
same way, a powder keg about to explode.
Terrorism is about inflicting Fear,
Intimidation and Complacency upon another, and it is magnified when it
happens to a child.
Law & Order comes to the rescue at
the end of the play, when the blood has been spilled. It serves
a lesson only in the penalty for the crime, and has little to do with
J. Max Robbins
moderated the panel and is senior editor of TV Guide
The cause of acts of
Terrorism is the perpetuation of the Beast, the nurturing of it, and
often the feeding of it by parents and guardians who have little
control over their own Beasts, and who often refuse to recognize they
are children of the Beast.
While it isn't the job of Law & Order
to change society, it is part of the job to show the result of
humanity's lack of Vigilance to Terrorism, and that makes L&O a huge
success. It reports on the fault of human beings to manage the
Along the line, in the history
of television, there might be room one day for a television show
called the Sentinels of Vigilance. It will be about
TerrorHunters who climb into people's minds and hunt down Fear with
Courage, Intimidation with Conviction, and Complacency with Right
It may never be as popular as
Law & Order because if a TerrorHunter does his or her job right, there
is no blood, no murder, no rape, no mayhem.
The battle is about what is
right, not who is the most criminal, and therefore will probably not
have high ratings.
Let's hope one day the Sentinels of
Vigilance will open with this. "In the Vigilance
Justice System, the people are separated by two separate yet equally
important groups--the TerrorHunters who search down Fear, Intimidation
and Complacency--and the Sentinels of Vigilance who replace these
weapons of Terror with Courage, Conviction and Right Actions for the
Children's Children's Children's. These are their
Law and Order
22--The Case For Pre-Emptive Terrorism Strikes
- 2004, VigilanceVoice.com, All rights reserved -