A Critique: My Boys Like Shootouts, What’s Wrong With That?

“My Boys Like Shootouts. What’s Wrong With That?” by Jonathan Turley (The Washington Post, 25 February 2007) discusses how parents are becoming increasingly against the play of toy-guns, and how such gun-paranoia will inhibit children’s development. Turley, a professor at George Washington University, speaks against those negative attitudes and hopes to educate parents and fellow activists with regards to how toy weaponry contributes to children’s development and emotional progress. In general, Turley portrays the image of a concerned father seemingly disgruntled at attitudes encountered from his personal experiences. The tone adopted is casual and the author’s use of examples serve to reinforce his ideas and arguments.
Turley claims that the allowance of gun play is not an idea which should be condemned and its impact exaggerated. He supports this claim by citing references concerning this topic giving toy guns credit for “channeling of aggression” (2007, Para 7) and amplifies the requisite to “distinguish between the two” with reference to “play” and “violence” (2007, Para 8). While Turley’s sentiments do reflect some truth, this truth is belittled by the one-dimensionality of his discussion and lack of consideration of other concerns such as “encouraging aggressive behavior and violent attitudes” and “reinforcing gender stereotypes” (2007, Para 4).
Part Two:

Turley’s arguments are logical but are discredited by their one-dimensionality as he does not accord sufficient discussion to other pertinent issues identified. There seems to be a lack of impartiality in the discussion as Turley is inclined to his own ideas. For instance, Turley used an example from his personal experience relating to his efforts to “avoid any gender stereotypes” (2007, Para 5) which did not strengthen his argument as he did not give depth to the point raised. Furthermore, the informal tone Turley used undermined the seriousness of the issue, and the example used was lacking as its scope cannot be reflective of an entire societal issue. Hence, Turley’s ideas, though valid, are weakened as he fails to present a just, two-sided argument.
The examples cited in the article succeed in substantiating Turley’s arguments as they are quoted from several published sources with experience and the necessary expertise. These examples exemplify important ideas such as the use of toy weaponry as a form of catharsis for children “to make meaning of what they have experienced in life” (2007, Para 9) and “to be able to discharge their anger through symbolic play” (2007, Para 10). They also demonstrate the existing need for a certain degree of change in mindset with regards to allowing gun play. In that sense, Turley has succeeded in delivering his message pertaining to the necessity of such play in children’s development. However, the impact may be contracted by his use of a casual tone in a matter of significance to his target audience.
Turley clearly describes the importance of gun play in children’s development and explains that such play is acceptable as long as “strict guidelines” (2007, Para 5) are imposed. He is considered to have achieved his intention as he cites useful and credible examples in substantiating his ideas. However, the casual tone adopted undermines the seriousness of the issue as despite it being a topic about play, it is one which parents and relevant groups view with significance. The lack of a balanced argument also weakens the ideas presented. Therefore, for an issue of societal scale, the scope covered by Turley may be too narrow.

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