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January 18th, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

Every once in a while, a tragedy happens.

It is tragic, to see lives snuffed out. It is tragic to see people lose hope, go past that line, and do horrible, unspeakable things. It scares us all. It concerns us all. We should never forget that there are awful things in this world, and we should do what we can to combat the evils of violence and the tragedies that scar us. Everyone, it can be agreed, wants this sort of thing to stop.

The question then becomes how.

Do we need cops in schools? Do we need fewer guns? Do we need psychological evaluations? Do we need to crack down on violent video games?

Of course violent video games are the answer.

This is an entirely predictable and altogether terrible way of dealing with the massacre at Sandy Hook. It’s predictable because this is what the media, anti-video game pundits, and legislators have done, time after time after time. Literally. The 109th, 110th, and the 113th Congresses have proposed the same bill. We know that as soon as the guns come out, and the blood is spilled, and the tears are shed, that it will take about a month for everyone calm down, and point their fingers at the consoles. Jack Thompson and Senator Leland Yee have been the subject of some of my posts in the past, but they’re not the only ones going on this crusade against video games.

Which brings us to the terrible part of their crusade: It’s ultimately useless. Not only has it failed a constitutionality test every time the bill’s been brought up, but it’s not the source of the problem. Pesky First Amendment rights aside, prohibiting the sale or rental of video games to minors isn’t going to teach children a damn thing, and I’m tired of pretending like it will. What it will do is frustrate me, and gamers like me, who don’t really need to be told what to watch, or what to play, or what to think. It is unnecessary and wasteful legislation, particularly in light of the tragedy. Could you lawmakers kindly focus your efforts on either gun control or mental health initiatives, instead of trying to penalize and judge a subset of people who are just as moved by this tragedy as you are?

In the end, I am happy that President Obama is calling for more research into the link between video games, violent imagery, and violence in our society, but I ultimately think that the research will be ignored. People are eager to find a scapegoat, and no amount of guarantees of free speech or already existing data are going to convince people that violent video games are not the culprit. No force on the planet can convince people that proper parenting means being a God damned parent, and being with your children, instead of just letting them babysit themselves in front of a screen. This kind of tunnel vision is already at work: Lanza had an elaborate set up for Call of Duty and Starcraft, and loved electronics. That must make him a killer.

Him, me, and about 80% of my generation.

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