As others see us: Videos

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The Independent Online
POLITICALLY, the affair was quickly dealt with. In less than 15 minutes, the Home Secretary, Michael Howard, had defused the parliamentary 'bomb' which threatened to go off on Tuesday in the House of Commons. He persuaded David Alton, the Liberal Democrat who lit the touchpaper, to withdraw his amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill in favour of the Government's proposals. Mr Alton wanted to make it an offence for people to allow children to see violent videos which presented 'a dubious role model' or could cause 'psychological damage'.

Almost 250 MPs, of whom 80 were Conservatives, were prepared to support this initiative. This would have meant defeat for John Major's government, unthinkable in the midst of the Government's campaign for the local elections of 5 May, and at a time when the 'leadership crisis' still threatens Mr Major's position. But Mr Alton's amendment was so vaguely drawn up as to make the consequences too far-reaching.

Public opinion suggests there is a link between the behaviour of individuals and the spectacle that television provides (if not, why would advertisers spend such fortunes?) but specialists have always been divided on the question: does violence encourage violent behaviour? Child psychologists believe that children always identify with the perpetrators of violence, and never with their victims . . .

Le Monde, French daily