Five Best Tuesday Columns

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Cheryl Olson on Letting Children Play Violent Video Games  Cheryl Olson praises the Supreme Court's decision to allow the sale of violent video games to people under eighteen, pointing out that there is no real evidence "that violent games cause children psychological or neurological harm and make them more aggressive and likely to harm other people." The public health researcher, who's written a book about the effect of video games on children, writes in today's New York Times that the young people playing the games are aware that its not real and that overall youth violence is on a downward slope. She even suggests that "such games (in moderation) may have some positive effects on developing minds," pointing out that "traditional fairy tales are chock-full of violence; a child experiences and learns to manage fears from the safety of Mom or Dad's lap." She concludes, though, that policy solutions can only be made once enough is known about video games' actual effects.

Jonah Goldberg on Intelligent Profiling  Jonah Goldberg lists several examples controversial TSA search incidents as proof that human judgment has now fled the system entirely. In fact, TSA employees are trained to behave like machines, because "we've institutionalized an irrational phobia against anything smacking of racial or religious profiling."  He argues in the Los Angeles Times that "once you've decided that disproportionate scrutiney of certain groups is verboten, you'll have to hassle everyone equally." But doing this is not effective, he insists. He counters the arguments that if we "abandon such mindlessness...clever terrorists will start using adult diapers as IEDs...[or that] we know profiling isn't effective because the Israelis don't use it." The Israeli's do profile, he notes--intelligently. "At Ben Gurion International Airport, everyone's interviewed by security. Some are questioned at length, others quickly. The controlling variable is the 'living judgement'...of the interviewers and not wildly expensive full-body scanners and inflexible checklists." 
Meghan Cox Gurdon on Unrealistically Disturbing Teen Literature  Wall Street Journal children's books reviewer Meghan Cox Gurdon defends her hotly contested argument that much of today's "young-adult literature invites teenagers to wallow in ugliness, barbarity, dysfunction and cruelty." She understands that "so-called problem novels may be helpful to children in anguisehd circumstances," but insists, "the larger question is whether books about rape, incest, eating disorders and 'cutting' (self-mutilation) help to normalize such behaviors for the vast majority of children who are merely living through the routine ordeals of adolescence." Gurdon believes books are more than "a passing entertainment" and can have a strong effect on the reader, particularly at such an impressionable age. She also doesn't "believe that the vast majority of American teenagers live in anything like hell. Adolescence can be a turbulent time, but it doesn't last forever and often--leaving aside the saddest cases--it feels more dramatic at the time than it will in retrospect," she notes. "It is surely worth our taking into account whether we do young people a disservice by seeming to endorse the worst that life has to offer." 
James Holmes on China's Naval Ambitions  In addition to wanting to catch up to the rest of the U.N. Security Council, China's desire for an aircraft carrier, now realized, comes from its wish "to uphold real, tangible interests," such as "fulfill[ing] its dream of national unification [with Taiwan] with minimal disturbance in the regional order," explains James Holmes at Foreign Policy. He also notes that "Chinese carriers [need not] match their U.S. Navy counterparts on a ship-for-ship basis to achieve Beijing's goals...If indeed the PLA converts the Western Pacific into a no-go zone for the U.S. Navy, it can uphold China's Thucydidean interests without ever risking a battle with its major antagonist." Aside from combat, carriers would contribute to China's disaster relief equipment. "Comforting the afflicted is not only worthwhile in its own right but helps the benefactor establish a track record for using its martial prowess wisely and humanely," Holmes writes. "Such a power eases suspicions of its intentions by furnishing international public goods that benefit not only China but its Asian neighbors. Beijing knows that to truly be a great sea power, you have to look--and act--the part."
Roger Cohen on America's Need to Reclaim Its Moral Superiority  "America has been inseparable from a city-on-the-hill idealism but also from a strong work ethic," writes The New York Times' Roger Cohen, recalling that "when I became an American citizen and had to do an English test the second sentence of my dictation was: 'I plan to work very hard every day.'" The current rate of unemployment, especially among young Americans, and "the U.S. response to this crisis seems to be one of a country in middle age, a nation that has lost its can-do moral edge, the ability to come together and overcome. In this critical regard President Obama has failed to deliver," Cohen argues. "America needs an energy policy and an industrial policy. It has to lead in green technology and--purist capitalist reflexes notwithstanding--it must find ways to get corporate America involved in a national revival."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.