DebateChats 2000: William Baldwin on the Youth Vote

I do a lot of work with the Creative Coalition in this area. In fact, I've facilitated closed-door meetings with Senator Brownback, Senator Lieberman, and Bill Bennett, the sponsors of the Appeal to Hollywood, and leaders in the arts and entertainment industry. Also, Bennett and Lieberman have sat on public policy forums that the Creative Coalition has produced in New York and Washington. And I don't have a problem with it at all, because I think they're right. There are some things that I don't agree with them on. Lieberman has said publicly and has said to me that it is not a First Amendment argument — by no stretch of the imagination is the federal government interested in censoring the entertainment industry — and I support that. I in no way, shape or form want this to become a First Amendment issue. I think a lot of violent programming is justified; it's a viable form of entertainment, and people have the right to see it. At the same time, if you feed a 7-year-old boy a steady diet of inappropriate sexual and violent content, from the Internet, video games, television, film, and the recording industry, you cannot convince me that it's not having an effect. I don't believe that if a 15-year-old sees "The Basketball Diaries," that that is going to be the direct cause for why he goes to the classroom and kills one of his classmates. But I do think in terms of stimulating or desensitizing there is now mounting evidence that indicates that it is having some sort of effect. But when it comes directly to the violence, I think that there are other variables, like parenting, socioeconomics, drug and alcohol abuse and accessibility to handguns, that play not only a more significant role, but play a more direct role. When I talk to elected officials in Washington, and leaders in the entertainment industry, a lot of them agree, and understand that it's having an effect and that something needs to be done, and that there's a role for the entertainment industry to play; they just don't want censorship or government regulation, and that brings you to a whole host of other issues. They can improve the rating system and they can enforce the rating system. There's talk in the Creative Coalition where they would teach Media Literacy training in the New York City public schools, to teach children to be more sophisticated viewers of the media. I'm not talking about showing a 7-year-old boy "Natural Born Killers;" I'm talking about showing him the cartoons, the six-o'clock news that he sees and the prime-time that he sees, because those programs have a lot of content that is deemed appropriate for children, and it would be designed to teach children, parents and educators how to process the media in a more sophisticated and healthful way.

ABCNEWS’ Jim Sciutto at 2:40pm ET

Getting back to the topic of youth voter apathy, Alison and I talked earlier about how the voter registration drive is going. You said it's a little slower than previous years. Why is that?

Alison Byrne Fields at 2:41pm ET

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