Hal Hinson's article "In Defense of Violence" {Show, May 23} has it all wrong. The gratuitous violence seen today in a majority of movies is unjustified on artistic, moral or ethical grounds. Its intended objective is to appeal to the basest of human instincts and simultaneously to reap a windfall in profits.

Your critic is naive to believe that what is seen on the big screen bears little relationship to societal violence and the serious disintegration of our social fabric that has occurred in the past 20 to 30 years. While I may agree with him that it isn't the only major factor in the rapid increase of societal violence, it is nonetheless a major factor and urgently needs to be addressed.

Studies have shown that normal children exposed to excessive violence demonstrate more aggressive behavior and are more prone to settle problems violently. One can speculate that the effects of violent films on psychologically unstable personalities (psychopaths or the mentally ill) would be profound.

Hinson mixes metaphors when he concludes that the removal of excessive violence from films would be like confiscating the camcorders to remedy the Rodney King beating. The solution to the Rodney King beating is to hold police officers accountable for excessive brutality toward criminals. And the solution for excessive violence in films is to demand of filmmakers that they produce civilized films and consider the destructive effects of mindless, painless, unpunished violence upon audiences.

No one would object to violence that is artistically integrated into the story line of films but irrational, gratuitous violence has no place in films.

The TV Violence Act, introduced by Sen. Paul Simon (D-Ill.), would encourage members of the TV industry to work together to reduce the level of violence on television {news story, May 23}. All who wish to preserve the character of America should speak out strongly against excessive movie or television violence.

-- Morris A. Weinberger

Hal Hinson says that there is no definitive link between movie violence and real-life violence with the same vigor that the Tobacco Institute says there is no definitive link between smoking and lung cancer.

Research at the University of Washington revealed that homicide rates rose steeply in the United States and Canada after the introduction of television. In Canada the homicide rate doubled while the rate of firearms ownership remained stable. In the United States the rise in gun-related homicide was paralleled by a rise in the rate of non-gun-related homicides. By their 18th birthday, American kids have witnessed 18,000 murders on television. The American Psychological Association estimates that a typical child sees 8,000 murders and 100,000 acts of violence before finishing elementary school.

When it comes to violence, life may imitate art. According to a study sponsored by the National Institute of Justice, more than 25 percent of 1,874 surveyed imprisoned felons admitted to committing a crime they saw on television.

Hinson says that "if no moral compass exists, {films} may provoke a violent response. But that is not the movie's fault." The hypocrisy is evident when nearly the same argument can be made about guns. -- Steven J. Canale