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Violence

  • At the movies, we are gradually being conditioned to accept violence as a sensual pleasure. The directors used to say they were showing us its real face and how ugly it was in order to sensitize us to its horrors. You don't have to be very keen to see that they are now in fact desensitizing us.

  • There seems to be an assumption that if you're offended by movie brutality, you are somehow playing into the hands of the people who want censorship. But this would deny those of us who don't believe in censorship the use of the only counter-balance: the freedom of the press to say that there's anything conceivably damaging in these films — the freedom to analyze their implications. ... How can people go on talking about the dazzling brilliance of movies and not notice that the directors are sucking up to the thugs in the audience?

  • ... scarcely a human being in the course of history has fallen to a woman's rifle; the vast majority of birds and beasts have been killed by you, not by us. Obviously there is for you some glory, some necessity, some satisfaction in fighting which we have never felt or enjoyed.

  • ... television and radio violence was considered by most experts of minimal importance as a contributory cause of youthful killing. ... there were always enough experts to assure the public that crime and violence had nothing to do with crime and violence.

  • Blows are sarcasms turned stupid ...

  • Violence is the instinctive response to fear.

  • They leave the genitals off Barbie and Ken, but they manufacture every kind of war toy. Because sex is more threatening to us than aggression.

  • ... while violence can destroy power, it can never become a substitute for it.

  • The climax of terror is reached when the police state begins to devour its own children, when yesterday's executioner becomes today's victim.

  • The extreme form of power is All against One, the extreme form of violence is One against All.

  • Legitimacy, when challenged, bases itself on an appeal to the past, while justification relates to an end that lies in the future. Violence can be justifiable, but it never will be legitimate.

  • Violence can always destroy power; out of the barrel of a gun grows the most effective command, resulting in the most instant and perfect obedience. What never can grow out of it is power.

  • Violence can destroy power; it is utterly incapable of creating it.

  • The practice of violence, like all action, changes the world, but the most probable change is to a more violent world.

  • Generally speaking, violence always arises out of impotence. It is the hope of those who have no power ...

    • Hannah Arendt,
    • 1967 in Elisabeth Young-Bruehl, Hannah Arendt ()
  • Violence is its own anesthetist. The numbness it induces feels very much like calm.

  • We often seem to be swimming through such a miasma of sexual violence — in advertising, television programming, heavy metal, rap, films, and worst of all, in the home — that even First Amendment absolutists sometimes daydream about how nice it would be to have government-as-nanny just outlaw all this effluent.

    • Molly Ivins,
    • "Speaking of Values, Here's Someone Who Took Action," in Fort Worth Star-Telegram ()
  • It is quite reasonable to subscribe both to the old saw that no good girl was ever ruined by a book and to the perception that it is not good for children to be constantly exposed to the sexual violence in our popular culture. Protecting children seems to me logically, legally, and rather easily differentiated from censorship ...

    • Molly Ivins,
    • "Speaking of Values, Here's Someone Who Took Action," in Fort Worth Star-Telegram ()
  • Deceit and violence — these are the two forms of deliberate assault on human beings.

  • As it does with so many other stimuli, the phenomenon known as 'habituation' also operates when it comes to violence. The greater the level of detachment and numbing, the more of the stimulus is needed to bring about what marketing strategists call 'arousal' and, in turn, to produce whatever pleasure the activity can bring.

  • Regardless of how often the appetite for entertainment violence becomes addictive, increased exposure does risk further desensitizing viewers. And the element of pleasure that they derive may lead them to regard violence as a more acceptable way of dealing with problems, and victimization as more tolerable so long as it befalls others, not themselves.

  • America may be the only society on earth to have experienced what has been called an 'epidemic of children killing children,' which is ravaging some of its communities today.

  • Much as being active in the antislavery movement of the last century involved more than not engaging in slavery oneself, so joining in an antiviolence movement has to go beyond opting for nonviolence in one's personal life. It calls for engaging in imaginative and forceful practices of nonviolent resistance to violence, including taking a stand toward entertainment violence.

  • We admire predators — panthers, lions, tigers, even wolves. Maybe to be naturally thoughtful and hesitant to use violence is to be somehow second rate. To be in the middle of the social food chain. Especially if you're a man. This society thinks real men are violent.

  • Violence commands both literature and life, and violence is always crude and distorted.

  • A hurtful act is the transference to others of the degradation which we bear in ourselves.

  • Justice consists in seeing that no harm is done to men. Whenever a man cries inwardly: 'Why am I being hurt?' harm is being done to him. He is often mistaken when he tries to define the harm, and why and by whom it is being inflicted on him. But the cry itself is infallible.

    • Simone Weil,
    • "Human Personality" (1943), The Simone Weil Reader ()
  • Victims suggest innocence. And innocence, by the inexorable logic that governs all relational terms, suggests guilt.

  • The principal instances of mass violence in the world today are those committed by governments within their own legally recognized borders.

    • Susan Sontag,
    • "Why Are We in Kosovo," in The New York Times Magazine ()
  • We found that during the period of 1900 to 2006, nonviolent resistance campaigns were about twice as effective as violent ones in achieving their immediate goals ...

    • Erica Chenoweth,
    • on studies by her and Maria J. Stephan, in Street Spirit ()
  • ... the average nonviolent campaign is something like four times larger than the average violent campaign, and, in general, we can see in our data that the nonviolent campaigns are far superior at eliciting active participation.

    • Erica Chenoweth,
    • on studies by her and Maria J. Stephan, in Street Spirit ()
  • When civil resistance campaigns prevail, they tend to enshrine norms of consent. Whereas, with an armed struggle, the norms that are being generated during the campaign generally tend to be more martial values. So when armed campaigns win, usually if they win by the sword they rule by the sword. ... how you fight determines in large part how you're going to rule when you win.

    • Erica Chenoweth,
    • on studies by her and Maria J. Stephan, in Street Spirit ()
  • ... violence is a symptom of impotence.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1960, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 6 ()
  • In violence, we forget who we are ...

  • We have lived with violence far too long.

    • Adrienne Rich,
    • "Natural Resources," The Dream of a Common Language ()
  • It is organized violence on top which creates individual violence at the bottom.

    • Emma Goldman,
    • "Address to the Jury" (1917), in Alix Kates Shulman, ed., Red Emma Speaks ()
  • As a mother trying to raise kids with some kind of a code, an honorable way to solve problems without using violence, I find it interesting to live in a country where your government is allowed to kill, whether it's war or execution. What interests me is not who deserves to die but who deserves to kill.

  • ... no society that feeds its children on tales of successful violence can expect them not to believe that violence in the end is rewarded.

  • People aren't for hitting.

  • The mechanism of violence is what destroys women, controls women, diminishes women and keeps women in their so-called place.

    • Eve Ensler,
    • in Eve Ensler, ed., A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant, and a Prayer ()
  • When there is violence against any person in society, because he or she is different, it threatens us all. Only by speaking out are any of us safe.

  • From a magical point of view, the term 'nonviolence' doesn't work well. Every beginning Witch learns that you can't cast a spell for what you don't want — that the deep aspects of our minds are unclear on the concept of 'no.' If you tell your dog, 'Rover, I can't take you for a walk,' Rover hears 'Walk!' and runs for the door. If we say 'nonviolence,' we are still thinking in terms of violence.

  • Today, together, let us repeat as our slogan that all trace of violence must disappear from this earth, then the sun will be honey-coloured and music good to hear.

  • Once in a Cabinet we had to deal with the fact that there had been an outbreak of assaults on women at night. One minister suggested a curfew; women should stay home after dark. I said, 'But it's the men who are attacking the women. If there's to be a curfew, let the men stay home, not the women.'

    • Golda Meir,
    • in Andrea Medea and Kathleen Thompson, Against Rape ()
  • Domestic violence is the front line of the war against women.

    • Pearl Cleage,
    • "Basic Training: The Beginnings of Wisdom," Deals With the Devil ()
  • America is the most violent democracy in the world. It's something that's met with great shock, horror, and mystery when I travel to other countries. They ask, Why are there so many shootings in America? Why does everyone own a gun?

  • Films don't cause violence, people do. Violence defines our existence. To shield oneself is more dangerous than trying to reflect it.

  • ... we will no longer be led only by that half of the population whose socialization, through toys, games, values and expectations, sanctions violence as the final assertion of manhood, which that half holds to be synonymous with nationhood.

    • Wilma Scott Heide,
    • in Marvin Bressler, eds., American High Education: Prospects and Choices ()
  • The cycle of violence needs extreme love to break it.

  • ... all history shows that the hand that cradles the rock has ruled the world, not the hand that rocks the cradle!

  • ... just as violence is the last refuge of the inarticulate, so it is also the first resort of the incompetent, the easy out for the man who is capable of expressing himself only in the most primitive and vulgar of dramatic terms. He leaves us with only the obscenity of violence per se — and the pornographer thereof will always be with us, in film as in any other medium. And so will his audience.

  • The only thing that's been a worse flop than the organization of nonviolence has been the organization of violence.

  • Want of passion is, I think, a very striking characteristic of Americans, not unrelated to their predilection for violence. For very few people truly have a passionate desire to achieve, and violence serves as a kind of substitute.

  • In South America euphemism appears to be the grisly preserve of violent power. 'Liberty' was the name of the biggest prison in Uruguay under the military dictatorship, while in Chile one of the concentration camps was called 'Dignity.' It was the self-styled 'Peace and Justice' paramilitary group in Chiapas [Mexico] that in 1997 shot 45 peasants in the back, nearly all of them women and children, as they prayed in a church. What have the souls of the south done over the past few decades to deserve quite so much liberty and dignity and peace and justice?

    • Isabel Fonseca,
    • "A Land in Exile From Itself," The New York Times ()
  • In our times, significantly, the three outstanding voices against violence have been silenced by murder — Mahatma Gandhi in India, Archbishop Romero in El Salvador, and Dr. Martin Luther King, here at home.

  • The Canadians have declared that domestic violence is not a feminist issue but a matter of human rights.

  • Violence is like money in the bank; it's only helpful if you don't have to use it.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • "About a Poem," Sacred Cows ... And Other Edibles ()
  • After the kill, there is the feast. / And towards the end, when the dancing subsides, / and the young have sneaked off somewhere, / the hounds drunk on the blood of the hares, / begin to talk of how soft / were their pelts, how graceful their leaps, / how lovely their scared, gentle eyes.

    • Lisel Mueller,
    • "Small Poem About the Hounds and the Hares," Alive Together: New and Selected Poems ()
  • I almost shot you back there, you know that? when are / you people gonna learn, huh? you talk too much, that / makes me damn mad when you talk too much. i was ready / to put lead into your brain, you know that? shit makes / me damn mad, rather take you to the morgue.

  • Democracy cannot sustain itself amid a high degree of violence.

  • The Gringo, locked into the fiction of white superiority, seized complete political power, stripping Indians and Mexicans of their land while their feet were still rooted in it. Con el destierro y el exilo fuimos desuñados, destroncados, destripados — we were jerked out by the roots, truncated, disemboweled, dispossessed, and separated from our identity and our history.

  • Violence diminishes our humanity.

  • A Pittsburgh factory is making me a lot of hatchets on which will be the words: 'Carry Nation's Loving Home Defenders. Smash the Saloon and build up the home.'

    • Carry Nation,
    • 1903, in Carleton Beals, Cyclone Carry: The Story of Carry Nation ()
  • Two generations ago only a few unfortunate children ever saw anyone hit over the head with a brick, shot, rammed by a car, blown up, immolated, raped or tortured. Now all children, along with their elders, see such images every day of their lives and are expected to enjoy them. ... The seven-year-old who hides his eyes in the family cops-and-robbers drama is desensitized four years later to a point where he crunches potato chips through the latest video nasty.

  • Violence wounds the body and it wounds the soul. Of the predator. Of the prey. Of the mourners. Of collective humanity. It diminishes us all.

  • ... America has become numb to violence because it just drowns in it, day in and day out.

  • ... Judeo-Christians have got to respect the pagan truth shown in the popular culture of sex and violence. It's meaningful about the elemental forces of life, the brutality of life and nature.

    • Camille Paglia,
    • in Colin Covert, "I'll Talk, You Listen," Minneapolis Star Tribune ()
  • A violent act pierces the atmosphere, leaving a hole through which the cold, damp draft of its memory blows forever.

  • The ordinary response to atrocities is to banish them from consciousness. Certain violations of the social compact are too terrible to utter aloud: this is the meaning of the word unspeakable.

  • The child who is permitted to torment, or destroy, the minutest object in creation, who will wantonly tread upon a worm, or unhumanly pass a pin through the body of a fly, will in all probabiilty, as he increases in years, feel no more compunction at tormenting a fellow-creature, than he did in witnessing the wreathing agonies of a fly.

  • ... violence made further violence probable.

  • Human flesh, warm and soft and capable of being wounded, went naked up against steel; steel that is cold as old stars, and harder than death and incapable of pain. Bayonets and guns and steel rails and battle ships, bombs and bullets are made of steel. And only babies are made of flesh. More babies to grow up and work in steel, to hurl themselves against the bayonets, to know the tempered resistance of steel.

    • Mother Jones,
    • in Mary Field Parton, ed., The Autobiography of Mother Jones ()
  • My wife once said that if men had to worry about who was going to clean up the mess, there'd be a lot less violence in the world.

  • One act of violence takes four generations to heal.

    • Gloria Steinem,
    • in Wilma Mankiller, Every Day Is a Good Day: Reflections by Contemporary Indigenous Women ()
  • Extreme violence has a way of preventing us from seeing the interests it serves.

  • ... the most reliable predictor of whether a country is violent within itself — or will use military violence against another country — is not poverty, natural resources, religion, or even degree of democracy: it's violence against females. It normalizes all other violence.

  • Polls show that what women fear most from men is violence, and what men fear most from women is ridicule.

  • ... anything that's divisive breeds violence.