Archive for the ‘Annenberg Public Policy Center’ Category

Civility in Congress (1935-2011) as reflected in the Taking Down process

January 14, 2012 Comments off

Civility in Congress (1935-2011) as reflected in the Taking Down process (PDF)
Source: Annenberg Public Policy Center

By adopting the rules at the beginning of a new Congress, the membership voluntarily limits the range of rhetoric acceptable on the floor. When Members wonder why they cannot call another Member a liar or a hypocrite even if the evidence justifies the label, the answer is not simply that the rules of the House forbid it; rather, it is that the membership has voluntarily agreed by vote that these are the rules under which the House will operate during that Congress. Among other things, the rules caution a Member not to call another a liar even if she or he is not telling the truth, not to impugn another’s integrity even if their actions invite it, and not to call someone a hypocrite even if she or he deserves it. These boundaries are designed to create a climate conducive to deliberation. Central to the ability to deliberate is the presumption of mutual respect.

Because the taking down process is the formal mechanism the House uses to censure inappropriate discourse spoken on the floor (for a discussion see Appendix C), it is that measure we use to answer the following questions: Has the level of civility in the House changed in the past three-quarters of a century? If so, when, why and how?

Popular PG-13 Movies Increasingly Portray Suicidal Behavior; No Difference in Highly Explicit Suicide Between R- AND PG-13-Rated Films

August 12, 2011 Comments off

Popular PG-13 Movies Increasingly Portray Suicidal Behavior; No Difference in Highly Explicit Suicide Between R- AND PG-13-Rated Films
Source: Annenberg Public Policy Center

Annenberg Public Policy Center research analyzing 855 top box- office films from 1950 to 2006 shows that the portrayal of explicit and graphic suicide has tripled over that time. It also found no difference in the most explicit portrayals in films rated PG-13 versus those rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) since 1985. The study, authored by Patrick E. Jamieson and Dan Romer, was published in the August 2011 issue of Archives of Suicide Research.

To illustrate the change in the portrayal of suicide from before the MPAA ratings system was introduced in 1968 to the present, consider the 1956 film “Rose Tattoo.” This film typifies the treatment of suicide in the plots of films before 1968. The film only includes a single verbal reference to suicide. By contrast, the PG-13 movie “The Grudge,” released in 2004, shows a man pushing himself off a high-rise balcony and his lifeless head splayed on the ground surrounded by blood.

Prior to 1968, films produced in the U.S. were subject to a “production code” that limited the appearance of violence in films. However, with the abandonment of the code the MPAA established a ratings system (G, PG, R, X) that would help parents to determine whether film content was appropriate for their children. In 1984, the PG-13 category was added to further distinguish films in the PG (parental guidance) category that were not appropriate for children under the age of 13. Since that time, the difference between the PG-13 and R rating has eroded with regard to the appearance of violence.

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