There’s Always Another Scapegoat
For the Party of Personal Responsibility.
In the aftermath of yet another heinous mass shooting, fueled by our nations barbaric health care system and outrageous gun culture, the key proponents of both are out in force to push the blame away to someone else.
Oh wait, that was a decade ago following the Columbine shooting.
This time around it looks like video games are getting the brunt of the blame.
(Lt. Col. Dave Grossman on Fox News)
“We have got to enforce the ratings systems… This is just the beginning guys. Please! Don’t look at this in isolation… Look at (these mass shootings) as a growing, moving trend and it’s gonna get worse. …The video games are providing the training, the desensitization, and the conditioned responses… It doesn’t take a lot of skill to walk up to a child, shove a gun in their face and blow their brains out. What it takes is desensitization and conditioning to do it again and again and again and again.
…We have raised a generation of children who have learned to kill and learned to like it. When we get a sick kid in past years, they were chewing gum and talking out in class. Now we create a sick kid and they’re gonna come kill you. If you’re the parents who let your kids play these sick games, the blood is on your hands and, by the way, you might be the first one to die.”
Never mind that this is all over-simplified bullshit. The relationship between video games and actual violence, if any, is very complex.
In my research on middle schoolers, the most popular game series among boys was Grand Theft Auto, which allows players to commit cartoon violence with chain saws as well as do perfectly benign things like deliver pizza on a scooter.
Teenage boys may be more interested in the chain saws, but there’s no evidence that this leads to violent behavior in real life. F.B.I. data shows that youth violence continues to decline; it is now at its lowest rate in years, while bullying appears to be stable or decreasing.
This certainly does not prove that video games are harmless. The violent games most often played by young teens, like most of the Grand Theft Auto series, are rated M, for players 17 and older, for a reason and do merit parental supervision.
But despite parents’ worst fears, violence in video games may be less harmful than violence in movies or on the evening news. It does seem reasonable that virtually acting out a murder is worse than watching one. But there is no research supporting this, and one could just as easily argue that interactivity makes games less harmful: the player controls the action, and can stop playing if he feels overwhelmed or upset. And there is much better evidence to support psychological harm from exposure to violence on TV news.
In fact, such games (in moderation) may actually have some positive effects on developing minds.
Once again, correlation does not imply causation. Millions of teenagers play violent video games everyday, but they don’t go out and shoot up theaters and schools afterward. I’d be willing to bet that every single mass murderer from the last three decades drank soda on a regular basis, should we blame that as well?
These same violent video games are sold in England, France, Norway, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, etc etc. They don’t have an epidemic of gun violence. But what they do have are universal healthcare systems that care for the mentally ill, and laws that keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. None of these counties have been overrun by “tyranny” or “communism” either.
What’s really sickening about this new round of scapegoating is that it’s coming from the same people who spent an entire decade cheer-leading illegal wars and torture under the Bush administration. None of them have any moral authority to speak about the violence in our society or where it’s coming from.
Take a look in the mirror assholes.
Aaaaand just in time to prove my point, here’s today’s Washington Post.
It’s true that Americans spend billions of dollars on video games every year and that the United States has the highest firearm murder rate in the developed world. But other countries where video games are popular have much lower firearm-related murder rates. In fact, countries where video game consumption is highest tend to be some of the safest countries in the world, likely a product of the fact that developed or rich countries, where consumers can afford expensive games, have on average much less violent crime.
Go read it. Numbers don’t lie.