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Southland Surfers Battle for the Best Summer Waves

July 16, 1988

As a professional peace officer with one of the area's largest law enforcement agencies, I have first-hand opportunity to see violence in many forms and all strata of our society. I'm afraid this surfer problem is an example of the fact that violence is no longer the aberration; rather, it has become the accepted way to deal with life's inconveniences.

What is of tremendous concern to me is the degree to which the general population has become numbed to violence and to scenes of potential danger. I can't tell you how many times I've been involved in "containment" operations (surrounding an area in which we were searching for armed suspects), cops everywhere with weapons drawn crouching behind their radio cars, trees, etc., only to have some civilians wander right through our zone. Not only do they not hurry to retreat at the sound of our admonishments, but they actually remain as long as possible.

My point is that the violence among the surfers is just the latest manifestation of a dangerous attitude fostered, I believe, by our entertainment industry. We are continually barraged with guns, blood, car crashes, and generally brutal behavior. Some exotic weapon usually co-stars (and sometimes stars) in our TV and feature films. Even TV journalism makes a point of coming in for an "extreme close-up" of a blood-spattered sidewalk or vehicle.

Years ago I argued that the entertainment industry had nothing to do with the rise in violent crime. I now know better. In my opinion it is the single greatest factor contributing to the prevalence of violent behavior in today's society.

What a shame that media capable of having such a tremendous impact on our culture and education will not be more responsible in what they put forth. Instead of promoting thoughtfulness and sensitivity, they promotes brutality, callousness and mindless escapism.

R.T.M. ALLEN

Los Angeles

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