For all of the hand-wringing in the wake of the Aurora, Colo. massacre -- especially the calls for tougher gun restrictions -- lawmakers are likely to do nothing. And that's a good thing.
"The Dark Knight Rises" -- the Batman film at which 12 were killed and dozens more injured -- has not been pulled from theaters. No member of Congress is proposing to "protect" the public from seeing such films nor to prevent filmmakers from undertaking similar projects in the future. Nor are Democrats in Congress seriously pushing to re-impose the old Assault Weapons Ban (despite a rhetorical feint by President Obama) or any other gun control measures.
This is not proof of the dysfunction of our political culture, as New York's busybody mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has suggested. Quite the opposite: It is a sign of our culture's maturity. Amid a horrific tragedy, Americans did not panic. Only a few public figures have claimed that guns or film violence were the "cause" of the massacre and called for some half-baked political solution. The apparent perpetrator has been captured and will receive a fair trial. The First and Second Amendments -- our Constitution's strongest expressions of trust in the American people -- remain secure.
The incident appears to have prompted some soul-searching by the movie industry. Harvey Weinstein, described by the Hollywood Reporter as "the man behind some of the most violent movies to ever hit the big screen," proposed a summit to discuss the effect of film violence. "I think, as filmmakers, we should sit down -- the Marty Scorseses, the Quentin Tarantinos, and hopefully all of us who deal in violence in movies -- and discuss our role in that," he told the Huffington Post.
An honest -- and importantly, voluntary -- discussion like the one Weinstein suggested could put some things into perspective. The movie industry might want, for example, to revisit its ratings system, which has suffered from reverse grade inflation. A Harvard School of Public Health study in 2004 found that there had been a "rating creep" in movies in since the 1980s -- over time, it has become easier to get away with putting more and more violence into a movie without losing a PG or PG-13 rating.
But if filmmakers have such a conversation, it will be very unlike the political discussions common in Washington. The filmmakers would bring expert knowledge to the table. They would refrain from rash, mandatory, one-size-fits-all solutions. They would appreciate nuances -- that violence serves a cinematic purpose and that it would ruin film forever were it to be purged completely.
Politicians, on the other hand, tend to approach topics like this one without expertise, nuance or knowledge, but with plenty of ideas about how to solve a perceived problem. They propose political remedies that take rights away from people who have done nothing wrong. Americans can be grateful that most politicians -- not including Bloomberg -- have shown restraint this time around.