In the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, the National Rifle Association was quick to point a cold, dead finger at "a callous corrupt and disgusting shadow industry... vicious violent video games" as the driver behind this horrific act. A few politicians then joined the chorus of simplifying dunces, thus continuing our national obsession with irresponsibly exploiting our most incomprehensible tragedies for the sake of sickening self-promotion.
Which has a greater influence on shootings: video games or easy access to guns? Let's pretend for one second that we live on a planet where that question isn't absolutely, batshit insane.
Here are three unequivocal truths:
-- Mentally unstable people who play video games that don't have access to guns can't shoot people.
-- Mentally unstable people who play video games and have access to guns sometimes shoot people.
-- Mentally unstable individuals who don't play video games also sometimes shoot people.
Unbalanced people with access to weapons, not Playstations, are the problem here. Gun violence is limited when crazy people are limited in their access to guns. (I'm fine with sane people being armed. If the NRA has its way and makes guns even more prevalent in our society, I want a Rick Grimes on my block.)
Suggesting that video games are responsible for violent behavior in American society is to completely cast aside the heavily reinforced traditions of slavery, genocide, colonization, marginalization, racism, sexism, and classism that our country is founded upon. (I'm probably not fully exploring a few other '-isms' here, but I suffer from anti-intellectualism, so FART.)
Are some video games violent? Sure. Does media have an effect on an individual's psychology and behavior? You bet. However, blaming video games for public shootings makes as much sense as blaming music, movies, TV, or the Internet. My grandfather consistently subjects himself to one of the most violent forms of media ever created: The History Channel. And he still isn't crazy enough to hoard assault rifles in his golf cart even though he thinks we're still at war with Japan.
Violence in society is complicated problem which will never have a bumper sticker solution. To overly simplify the cause behind a school shooting by blaming video games is to disrespect the gravity of such a monstrous homicidal act. The truth is, it takes more than violent media to create a killer. Hitler never played Call of Duty.
But some politicians are still using violent incidents as a means of capturing the national spotlight. California state senator, Democrat Leland Yee, recently apologized for his ill-advised attempt to offer some insight on the situation: "Gamers have just got to quiet down. Gamers have no credibility in this argument. This is all about their lust for violence and the industry's lust for money."
Senator Yee's words may have been overly generalized and irrelevant... but at least he alienated several million people when he said them. First of all, gamers don't lust for violence, they lust for fun, mental stimulation, and sunlight. Yee is right about one thing: the video game industry does have a lust for money...just like every other industry in the world. Should we blame the National Football League for every drunken, post-game brawl between rival fans? No, we shouldn't. Because that argument would be stupid. And like Senator Yee's argument, it has no credibility.
Democratic Connecticut senator Chris Murphy also tried to make a name for himself with the following statement regarding the Sandy Hook tragedy: "I think there's a question as to whether he [the gunman] would have driven in his mother's car in the first place if he didn't have access to a weapon that he saw in video games that gave him a false sense of courage about what he could do that day."
Senator Murphy's rudimentary assessment of the situation ignores the much more obvious question as to whether the gunman would have committed this atrocity without easy access to a cache of assault rifles. Several things were more influential than video games in the gunman's act of driving his mother's car to that school. Murphy might as well blame unleaded gasoline as well.
Politicians and lobbyists who refuse to appropriate accountability in a responsible and comprehensive manner in the face of tragedy are a sick joke. These ideological dinosaurs are the same people who swore that Judas Priest lyrics caused teen suicide, reefer madness made children gay, and women's suffrage would lead to men giving birth through their penis holes.
Anyone who singles out video games over a marketplace of cheap and easily-accessible guns as a key contributor to public violence is making a mockery of tragedy and deserves to be shot in the ass with a blowgun. But don't tell that to the NRA board of directors. Such a proposal is just nonsensical and violent enough that they might actually find a way to exploit it for their own self-seeking ends.
Follow Edward Murray on Twitter: www.twitter.com/WeCanBeatEczema