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'Boys Will Be Boys'

August 18, 1991

I am the author of "Boys Will Be Boys: Breaking the Link Between Masculinity and Violence," which was reviewed by Alex Raksin (Book Review, June 23). While I am pleased that Raksin found the book to be "powerful" and "offering many insights" about crime in America, I am deeply disturbed that he states erroneously that I make various errors of fact, interpretation and omission. He cites one alleged example of each. In fact, I make none of the cited errors, and therefore would like to set the record straight.

1. Raksin says that "(Miedzian) forgets Korea in her tally of 48,000 foreign war deaths since World War II." That statistic does not appear anywhere in "Boys Will Be Boys."

2. Raksin states "Anthony Storr never claimed that women weren't aggressive." In "Boys Will Be Boys," I write that Storr, in his book "Human Aggression," "argues that women are naturally passive." I stand by this interpretation.

3. Raksin states "(the author) doesn't consider the possibility that children simply won't watch TV if all violence is banned." This comment gives the erroneous impression that I favor censoring all TV violence. I do no such thing. In fact, in "Boys Will Be Boys," I recommend the creation of a Children's Public Broadcasting System "dedicated to top-quality, nonviolent pro-social programming."

As a former resident of Southern California who holds the Los Angeles Times in high esteem, I would have expected and welcomed careful, considered criticism and/or accurate corrections from your reviewer.

MYRIAM MIEDZIAN, NEW YORK CITY

Raksin responds: I do wish I had been more clear about the 48,000 figure: Miedzian has cited it in interviews, including the one with her publishers that was enclosed with press copies of her book, but it does not appear in the book itself.

Regarding Storr, Miedzian goes further in her book than she would have us believe, making the puzzling assertion that Anthony Storr's "Human Aggression" and Konrad Lorenz's "On Aggression" are "about men only." But in any case, Storr would never argue that women are "naturally passive" because he subscribes to the belief of most sociobiologists that aggression is an essential human emotion. As he writes in his classic work, "Human Destructiveness," "The assertion of one's separate identity requires 'aggression."'

Finally, the definition that Miedzian cites in her book of "inappropriately violent" programming--"the graphic depiction of violence, the absence of punishment for violent acts, and the absence of serious emotional or physical consequences"--is so sweeping as to prohibit children from watching virtually all of the violence currently depicted on commercial programming. Her ban would be far more strict than I implied in my review, clamping "mandatory lock boxes" on TVs, creating a federal "Bureau of Standards" to approve shows and circumventing a provision against censorship in the 1934 Communications Act.

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