And here's another dirty little truth that the media try their best to conceal: There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people.
Through vicious, violent video games with names like Bulletstorm, Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat and Splatterhouse. And here's one: it's called Kindergarten Killers. It's been online for 10 years. How come my research department could find it and all of yours either couldn't or didn't want anyone to know you had found it?
I decided to check up on this video game. It's free to play online. It's very cartoonish - not at all realistic. Remember that the LaPierre's basic argument was that the only way to stop massacres is to arm the schools. It's interesting to note what he didn't tell us when he used Kindergarten Killers as an example of vicious, violent video games:
- the guy with the gun is the school janitor AND
- all the kids have guns!
|Screen Shot from Kindergarten Killers|
Yes, the man who said schools needed to be armed, had problems with this video in which the kids were armed. Maybe it's because despite the kids with guns, the shooter can still carry out his vile act.
Video games are different from the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm. Not because Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood didn't have violence aimed at scaring little children. They did.
But in the video games, instead of being the victims, the players can become powerful and take on all the people who are making their lives difficult. So, if someone were being bullied at school, I'm sure that Kindergarten Killer would give a kid a sense of power by getting back at his tormentors.
|Screenshot from Kindergarten Killers|
Do Video Games Cause People To Kill?
I personally don't think that kids can play violent video games which include graphic acts of violence on the part of the player without it having negative effects on the players. An LA Times article had an overview of research on the impacts of violent video games:
A number of studies have shown that watching a lot of violence on television or playing violent video games such as Grand Theft Auto and Manhunt produces aggressive tendencies in kids. Rowell Huesmann, a professor of communications and psychology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, says that the strength of the evidence is on par with data that say smoking cigarettes causes lung cancer.
Other researchers pooh-pooh such assertions and say that scientific findings have been decidedly mixed — with several studies finding no effects of violent video games on children and teens who play them.It goes on to say the research has positive and negative findings, but looks to more longitudinal studies that will look at effects on the same kids over time.
In addition, such critics say, when effects are observed in studies, they have little or no relevance to psychological states that trigger violence in real-life situations.
Generalizing from any single study to the whole population of is always suspect. Finding cause and effect relationships, when there are numerous other and often hard to determine factors in the environment is tricky. But if I had to put money down on what researchers will say in twenty years, I'd bet that they'll say something like:
- While the vast majority of kids who play violent video games may have immediate short term increases in aggressiveness, there is no danger that the games lead them to acts of illegal violence. However, for some small number of kids with psychological issues, insufficient parent supervision, and/or a variety of other compounding factors, the games can lead to a greater likelihood of committing violent acts. [Don't quote this without the caveat above]
Also, most of the people who have committed mass murders in the last 30 years, didn't play violent video games as kids, because they weren't around.
While I personally could live very happily in a world without violent video games, I still don't think that banning them would significantly reduce the number of mass shootings.
Antonin Scalia Gave Game Makers First Amendment Rights
Let's see now. If I recall correctly, Scalia is considered one the most conservative members of the US Supreme Court. Yet in 2011 he wrote the opinion that rejected the California (that home of Hollywood and many video games) law that restricted children's access to violent video games. From the LA Times:
“Scalia dispatched all of the major arguments for the law. A technical but vital issue was whether the court must look at the law with "strict scrutiny," the practice in other free-speech cases. Scalia answered yes, meaning that the law had to serve a compelling state interest and be narrowly tailored to meet that purpose. Scalia found no such interest in the protection of children from imaginary violence. He ridiculed studies relied on by the state to show a link between playing video games and aggression in children. Referring to one expert, Scalia said that "he admits that the same effects have been found when children watch cartoons starring Bugs Bunny or the Road Runner."”
NRA vice president LaPierre's statement Friday is an interesting basis for doctoral dissertations in a number of fields from linguistics to criminal justice to media. That was my realization as I started to review it Friday. A quick analysis just wasn't in the cards. But I hope to make a number of smaller posts, like this one, from it.
I would also add on this topic - violent video games - that LaPierre's attack on video games might have had some persuasive power had he:
- Not convicted them ("a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people."), but simply raised the legitimate questions that should be raised.
- Had not blamed them and a number of others (violent movies, politicians, the media, etc.) yet exonerated the one item without which these mass murders couldn't have happened as horrifically as they have - the guns that were used in them. They are the single factor that is linked, without any question, to all the mass killings. And, of course, had he not so emphatically exonerated the NRA.
[I accidentally hit the publish button before this was finished and then deleted it. On some blogs the link stayed up. Sorry if you had trouble finding it.]