It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, but the Archbishop of Denver isn't a fan of violent video games.
When the U.S. Supreme Court recently struck down California's law prohibiting the sale of violent games to minors, Archbishop Charles Chaput weighed in.
Using the 1999 Columbine school shootings as a basis, Chaput's essay, titled "Violent Video Games and the Rights of Parents," argues that
"The reasonable person understands that what we eat, drink, and breathe will make us healthy or sick. In like manner, what we hear and what we see lifts us up — or drags us down. It forms us inside. Pornography degrades women. It also coarsens men. I don't need to prove that because we all know it. It's common sense . . . The roots of violence in our culture are much more complicated than just bad rock lyrics or brutal screenplays . . . But common sense tells us that the violence of our music, our video games, our films, and our television has to go somewhere, and it goes straight into the hearts of our children to bear fruit in ways we can't imagine — until something like [Columbine] happens."
As The Colorado Independent points out, a direct correlation between video games and childhood violence is hard to come by. The most likely links between childhood violence and an external trigger are depression, alienation, and the influence of friends.
Chaput extended a similar argument in his attack on same-sex civil unions in March of 2011, citing "common sense" and "long tradition."
In Chaput's defense, however, he does redirect the argument away from the games themselves. "My point here is not that video games are bad," he writes, "My point is that when we too readily stretch an individual's right to free speech to include a corporation's right to sell violence to minors, we collude in poisoning our own future."
The video game blog Kotaku cross-posted Chaput's article. HumanAbyss, a commenter on Kotaku, writes in response, "I have a much bigger problem with REAL world wars and REAL violence and REAL stupidity being promoted by modern culture than sexuality and virtual violence."