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Thursday, January 31, 2013

"I think video games is a bigger problem than guns, because video games affect people."

Posted by on Thu, Jan 31, 2013 at 8:46 AM

So sayeth Lamar Alexander, Republican Senator of Tennessee:

As The Jed Report at DailyKos notes, "To repeat, those words came from the lips of a United States Senator. A Republican United States Senator, to be precise. Supposedly, he's one of the brightest bulbs in the Senate Republican conference. The first President Bush thought he was so smart that he appointed him to be Secretary of Education for the entire nation."

And as Sherman Alexie—celebrated author and Stranger columnist—Tweeted, "Blaming video games for gun violence is like blaming Monopoly for insider trading and slum lords."

 

Comments (61) RSS

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61
"I'd say that today's extremely vivid, extremely realistic video games are probably more closely connected to real gun violence than Monopoly is to financial fraud"

That's still art imitates life.
Posted by not entirely arguing with you obvs on February 2, 2013 at 12:44 PM · Report this
60
I'd say that today's extremely vivid, extremely realistic video games are probably more closely connected to real gun violence than Monopoly is to financial fraud, but they're far less closely connected to real gun violence than the real guns are.
Posted by DRF on February 1, 2013 at 2:11 PM · Report this
59
If this were true Japan would have a much higher murder rate than the US. But in fact it's far far lower.

There are also western countries with widespread gun ownership rates and similar interest in videogames but without our violence level.
Posted by ryanmm on February 1, 2013 at 6:28 AM · Report this
Frank Blethen's vodka distiller 58
Fucking idiot.
Posted by Frank Blethen's vodka distiller on January 31, 2013 at 9:40 PM · Report this
57
You know...I could make the same argument that I see various places in this thread, but from the "other" side. I grew up in a house where there was ALWAYS at least one loaded gun (due to coyotes, dogs allowed to go feral, and the fact that we were at least 10 minutes away from police response on a good day), and several unloaded ones that were never under lock and key.

I was bullied constantly as a teenager for being short, smart, unathletic, and perceived as gay. (How right they were, even though I didn't admit to it for years.) And this was in a seriously right-wing "Christian" school.

I knew where every gun in the house was, loaded or unloaded. I knew where the ammunition was. It would have been simplicity itself to pop my Dad's revolver into my backpack one Fall morning, pocket some extra ammo and head to the school that I hated, knowing that by the end of the day I'd probably be dead, but so would the kids who'd made my life hell.

And the thought truly NEVER crossed my mind. I don't doubt that there were several reasons for this - one of them being innate sanity - but consider this also:

I was born when the Vietnam War was still underway, when the national revulsion at what was coming across the TV screen both hastened the end of our involvement in it and started the brief era of "no war toys". For at least the first ten years of my life, guns (other than those carried by cops and cowboys) were seldom seen during "family hour" or Saturday morning TV. Movies like DIRTY HARRY (probably the first to really fetishize guns) were rare and rated 'R', where an adult had to accompany you to a showing. Video games were no more violent than Atari QuickDraw! or Intellivision Boxing, both of them so abstract in their 16-bit video that there was no correlation to reality.

And I look at what's out there now. And I think about the difference to my childhood. And I hold tight to my commitment to the First Amendment, which I believe allows even stuff I find horrible to be published in whatever form, within extremely limited boundaries.

But I find myself thinking that the NRA, like most expert bullshitters, is not entirely wrong.
More...
Posted by DonServo on January 31, 2013 at 6:58 PM · Report this
runswithnailclippers 56
I'm not an anti-gun control troll, but I think that Alexie's analogy is way off base, if he is being 100% serious about it. Video games today are played on big screen TV's with home theater sound and very realistic images. A player might sit alone, playing the game for hours at a time. Hardly a family sitting around a board on a Sunday night trading plastic hotels.
Posted by runswithnailclippers on January 31, 2013 at 5:23 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 55
@53

And you know, if there were children playing games 4 to 6 hours a day shooting only black people, nobody would be asking if that was a bag thing. If they spend hours and hours every day playing a 3D real time rape game, we wouldn't be demanding much proof as to whether or not that harmed them. But somehow depictions of casual murder is OK as long as it doesn't cross certain other taboos?

The larger issue is that these claims that violent media have no influence on the consumer trivializes free speech. They're saying that media content has no effect, no influence. And if that is the case, then media don't matter. And if media don't matter, then repeal the First Amendment. Who needs all that bother if media don't influence anyone? The First Amendment is kind of a pain in the ass to have around for zero influence.

In fact, the reason that the First Amendment matters so much is that speech is powerful, and media content has a profound influence on the audience. That's precisely the point.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on January 31, 2013 at 5:15 PM · Report this
zivilisierter Wurm 54
In Lamar Alexander's defense: if a Mortal Kombat cartridge were placed into some sort of metal casing filled with chemical propellant and then fired from the bore of a long cylinder, it could easily kill someone.
Posted by zivilisierter Wurm http://peregrinari.tumblr.com/ on January 31, 2013 at 4:12 PM · Report this
53
@52 what about Craig Anderson? Do you have any good reason to suspect the commission is biased?

Here is the list of commission members:
Prof. Barbara Krahe (University of Potsdam, Germany, Chair)
Prof. Leonard Berkowitz (University of Wisconsin, USA)
Prof. Jeanne H. Brockmyer (University of Toledo, USA)
Prof. Brad J. Bushman (Ohio State University, Columbus, USA)
Dr. Sarah M. Coyne (Brigham Young University, USA)
Prof. Karen E. Dill (Fielding Graduate University, USA)
Prof. Edward Donnerstein (University of Arizona, Tucson, USA)
Prof. Douglas A. Gentile (Iowa State University, Ames, USA)
Prof. L. Rowell Huesmann (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA)
Prof. Steven J. Kirsh (State University of New York, Geneseo, USA)
Dr. Ingrid Moller (University of Potsdam, Germany)
Dr. Wayne Warburton (Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia)
Posted by anon1256 on January 31, 2013 at 3:36 PM · Report this
52
@50, "Craig Anderson." Ha, yeah, no thanks.

@51, can you tell me again which of the movies has the Joker sneaking into a movie theater and shooting everybody? Or for that matter which one where he had red hair? You're not seriously arguing that Batman movies made him do this, are you? Because that's pretty fucking retarded.
Posted by GermanSausage on January 31, 2013 at 3:13 PM · Report this
51
@49 Duh, CascadianBacon, that's my whole point. Liberal's don't have a problem when a killer mimics violence in movies. They only have a problem when he uses guns to do it.
Posted by DisorganizedReligion on January 31, 2013 at 3:05 PM · Report this
50
@41 & 43

2011 conclusions from the Media Violence commission of the International Society for Research on Aggression:

One conclusion appears clear-extreme conclusions are to be avoided. Not every viewer or player will be affected noticeably, but from understanding the psychological processes involved, we know that every viewer or player is affected in some way. Some commentators have argued that violent media, especially violent video games, are the primary cause of school shootings. Other commentators have argued that there is no good evidence of any harmful effects of violent media, usually based on the results of one or two studies. Neither extreme is supported by the vast body of research in this domain. What is clear is that exposure to media violence is one risk factor for increased aggression in both the short run and the long run.

http://www.israsociety.com/pdfs/Media%20…
(the entire thing is well worth reading)
Posted by anon1256 on January 31, 2013 at 2:44 PM · Report this
49
@48, I don't think it's dressing up like the Joker and going to see Batman that most liberals have an issue with.

Pretty sure it's the part with the gun and the shooting people.

Always thought that it was really ironic that the people who blame movies and video games are the ones who have trouble telling the difference between fantasy and reality.
Posted by GermanSausage on January 31, 2013 at 2:09 PM · Report this
48
When James Holmes shot up the movie theater with a semi-automatic, the Left tries to curtail access to firearms and gun owners start crying "Git yur hands offa mah See-kund Ammendment!" When it is pointed out that the shooter was dressed up as the homicidal antagonist from the very movie franchise whose sequel he was shooting up, the liberals are all like "Geet yer hands off mah Furst Ammeend-ment!" Let’s face it; this isn’t about preventing violence, is it?
Posted by DisorganizedReligion on January 31, 2013 at 1:54 PM · Report this
biffp 47
@46, if there were less guns, there'd be more gun violence? The grasping at straws is only on the topic of the straw man - not the actual debate.
Posted by biffp on January 31, 2013 at 1:30 PM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 46
@44: Unfortunately, this whole gun debate is grasping at straws dear -- whether we like it or not.
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on January 31, 2013 at 1:20 PM · Report this
45
@32 Many experts do deny the correlation. Others that believe in a correlation doubt any sort of causation. Others that believe in a some sort of causative link actually believe that it flows the other way: that being a violent person makes you more likely to play violent video games.
Posted by dirge on January 31, 2013 at 12:59 PM · Report this
44
@43 you've got a weird combination of victim blaming and grasping at straws there.
Posted by GermanSausage on January 31, 2013 at 12:58 PM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 43
@42: The age is immaterial. The question is maturity. 20, 19, 14, or even 38 so what? Nancy Larza was responsible for him and it was her house and she's the Mom and she had the prerogative to call the shots. It should be noted though, towards the end she was trying and very worried about him.
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on January 31, 2013 at 12:46 PM · Report this
42
@40

Everybody below the age of 40 has spent hours and hours playing video games. Those that haven't are probably the creepy ones you need to keep an eye on.

Furthermore, the guy was 20 years old, so your point about children escapes me.
Posted by GermanSausage on January 31, 2013 at 12:33 PM · Report this
41
@32, what correlation?

There's been a drop in violent crime since the growth of violent video games.
Posted by GermanSausage on January 31, 2013 at 12:28 PM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 40
@29: Andy Larza spent hours upon hours hermited away in his bedroom playing video games and you say he wasn't affected? The police say the games were among the most violent in the industry.
You can counter with "he was a troubled youth predisposed to violence" - yeah, yeah, yeah.
Parents should never allow computers in their children's bedrooms, period.

Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on January 31, 2013 at 12:24 PM · Report this
39
Oddly, Columbine might not have happened if the two shooters hadn't lost access to computers (and Doom). There's a wealth of research that shows that pornography may reduce incidents of sexual predation - various references have been written about it right here.

On the other hand, there is data showing that violent video games do increase aggression. However, they may also reduce real-world violence.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/200…
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/201…

(Various other related stories at the links above).
Posted by randoma on January 31, 2013 at 12:11 PM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 38
@33: Ahh, but if Quentin Tarantino made it it is swooned over as artistic expression.
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on January 31, 2013 at 12:04 PM · Report this
Dr_Awesome 37
My future-brother-in-law, the gun-lovin' Fox News addict and lifetime NRA member also loves his first-person shooter games.

Next time I'm over there I may ask him what he thinks of that theory, just to see him squirm.
Posted by Dr_Awesome on January 31, 2013 at 11:52 AM · Report this
36
I'll never give up the First for the Second.
Posted by rhombus on January 31, 2013 at 11:48 AM · Report this
35
Sen. Alexander is a coward and a twit. There is no good evidence linking video games to real-world violence, while there is plenty of evidence linking gun availability to violence. He's just trying to deflect blame from the guilty NRA and gun manufacturers whom he represents onto the innocent game makers whom he doesn't.
Posted by I have always been... east coaster on January 31, 2013 at 11:35 AM · Report this
zombie eyes 34
"I think video games is a bigger problem."
Shitty grammar is the real problem.
Posted by zombie eyes on January 31, 2013 at 11:33 AM · Report this
33
@31 - I am not in favor of a ban and I agree with much of your comment but it's also important to recognize that most of violent mass media has no other purpose than making a buck and doesn't qualify as artistic expression.
Posted by anon1256 on January 31, 2013 at 11:23 AM · Report this
32
@29 - I am not a specialist of the issue but I don't believe many experts deny the correlation. There is some controversy about causation, which is probably because there are many other factors at play. Not all individuals will be affected in the same fashion or to a similar degree.
Posted by anon1256 on January 31, 2013 at 11:17 AM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 31
@27

For the same reason that a ban on racist publications, or on rape as entertainment, or on pedophilia and incest fiction is impractical and not helpful. There's not a lot you can, or should, do to limit artistic expression.

What we can to is change the way we think about media violence. We don't have to accept as normal games where you hunt and murder humans for fun and for sport. If a major brand published a rape game, it would destroy their reputation. Yet killing people for yuks is reputable sub-genre in the catalog of many upstanding companies.

Changing people's attitudes is vital. All the different laws we passed against drunk driving would have had little effect if they hadn't been accompanied by a reversal of the social acceptability of drinking and driving. Better gun laws alone won't stop gun violence; it has to be accompanied by changing the gun culture too.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on January 31, 2013 at 10:55 AM · Report this
watchout5 30
Guns don't affect people? If the gun nuts are ever to be given any traction you gots to stop putting guys like this as your face. This guy tells me that I'm completely morally ok with going door to door and removing military style assault anything. I get that it would never happen, but this guy makes me believe in a future where such an extreme measure would be taken. Either the gun lobby should try and get ahold of their message again or just accept that the months before Obama leaves office he's coming for your guns and the entire nation is supporting him.
Posted by watchout5 http://www.overclockeddrama.com on January 31, 2013 at 10:55 AM · Report this
evilvolus 29
@27 - As was pointed out above, "liberals" minimize the correlation between those things because there IS NO CORRELATION between those things. Read the studies. Violent movies and video games DO NOT CAUSE violence. Period.
Posted by evilvolus on January 31, 2013 at 10:46 AM · Report this
28
The most dangerous aspect of video games is their affect on our nation's amount of exercise.

Heart Disease > extra violence caused by the unproven link between the consumption of violent media and real-life violence

Monopoly is terrible. I wouldn't be surprised if Monopoly has a higher correlation to violence than do video games. Even the most violent video games typically cast the player as righting a wrong or protecting a nation. Monopoly just teaches its players to be callous, life-destroying monsters and to prey upon the misfortune of others. The goal isn't to get rich... it's to bankrupt everyone else.
Posted by dirge on January 31, 2013 at 10:46 AM · Report this
27
Singling out video games is silly of course but I find it strange that liberals should minimize the correlation between mass consumption of violent media and violence. It'd be like saying advertising doesn't work or that TV doesn't shape the reality of many of its watchers.
Posted by anon1256 on January 31, 2013 at 10:39 AM · Report this
26 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
emor 25
Rise of the Triad, not Rise of the Afraid. Nice one, iPad.
Posted by emor on January 31, 2013 at 10:36 AM · Report this
emor 24
I started playing Duke Nukem 3D when I was twelve. I don't own guns nor do I frequent strip clubs. I also don't crack lame one liners about killing pig cops.

I played Rise of the afraid when I was even younger. I recall cackling with glee the first time I saw an eyeball fly past the screen after blowing up some schmuck with a missile launcher -- while he was begging for mercy. A bit disturbing to think back on, but I seriously doubt it had any significant effect on me. I knew it was all a gory cartoon even then. Anyone who might be driven to violence by video games is probably dealing with other, more serious, problems.
Posted by emor on January 31, 2013 at 10:33 AM · Report this
23
Hmmm, where would they possibly get the idea for a game like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3? I can't for the life of me imagine where they got that idea, it must have happened in a vacuum.
Posted by FauxfauxAlex on January 31, 2013 at 10:28 AM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 22
For me the most telling point is how flexible gun nuts are willing to be on the First Amendment. They read "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." and somewhere in those words they find room to regulate the content of video games. Apparently the First Amendment is a living document, which must adapt to changing times, and which is not to be read as an absolute.

Yet you don't dare fiddle with the Second Amendment, because that's a right. It's really a stark contrast to consider that it doesn't in any way say, hint, imply or suggest that "Well regulated speech is necessary for a fee state." It says no law. It's actually hard to find anywhere there to prohibit shouting fire in a crowded theater, or printing state secrets, or libel. It says Congress shall make no law abridging speech or the press.

Most of us realize that we have to exercise common sense and judgement in both cases, but if anything in the Bill of Rights cries out for Congress to set the ground rules, it's the right to bear arms. Where else is regulation specifically called for?
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on January 31, 2013 at 10:26 AM · Report this
Pick1 21
At the age of 7 years old I played Mortal Combat on Super NES. It was touted as the most violent video game ever back then. I practiced fatalities for hours on end, learning each and every characters'. From lighting people on fire to ripping off their head with spine attached.

Never once while calculating these moves piece by piece did I think about lighting anything on fire or ripping someones head off. In fact, I couldn't even watch the show E.R. because the blood made me queasy.

Video games do not create violent personalities. Maybe violent personalities find comfort in them or it helps egg them on, but the video games aren't the problem.

Now, I admit I probably shouldn't have been playing Mortal Combat at that age (when my Mom finally took the time to watch me play the game and I proudly showed her the fatality, she ripped the game out of the SNES and broke it in half).

But parental involvement around your kids hobbies should be a priority to make that judgement call.

The thing is, when an inattentive parent lets a kid play a violent video game, the kid plays a violent video game. When an inattentive parent has a kid get a hold of a gun...people could die.

It's a huge difference.
Posted by Pick1 on January 31, 2013 at 10:17 AM · Report this
Knat 20
Sen. Alexander is of course talking out of his ass, as no studies have proven a link between video games and violence. There have been studies proving no link, however. But, as the line goes, never let the truth get in the way of a good story. And Republicans never do.

The highest authority legislators should be consulting with, the American Psychological Association, have determined that video games only exacerbate pre-existing negative dispositions at worse, but can also actually hone visual/spatial and social networking skills.

@10: You better be ready to add a 5% tax to any sort of competitive activity as well then. After all, competition is a better indicator of aggressive behavior than violent video games are. Or maybe a 5% depression tax, since that's another link that has stronger indications than one's preferred violent video game.
Posted by Knat on January 31, 2013 at 10:12 AM · Report this
19
Sherman Alexie has gone off the reservation.
Posted by Stranger'sWorstNightmare on January 31, 2013 at 10:05 AM · Report this
18
@10, why stop there? A number of killers are known to have read Cather in the Rye. We need to stop these assault books before they can kill again. Now I'm not talking about a ban, of course. Just a law that prevents the trading and selling of certain books. And of course a national registry and database so we know who is reading what. And I sure hope we start a book buyback program, where people can turn in their books to be burned. Completely voluntary, of course. If we can just do this, we can move on to more effective measures.
Posted by GermanSausage on January 31, 2013 at 10:01 AM · Report this
treacle 17
@8 is on it. Deflect! Deflect!

(and actually, I kinda do blame Monopoly for insider trading and slum lords. It's a really shitty game. ;)
Posted by treacle on January 31, 2013 at 9:51 AM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 16

Therefore I should be influenced to get a Shock Rifle and jump into a Manta, fly up to my enemy's power node and destroy it with a Redeemer.

http://planetunreal.gamespy.com/View.php…
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://www.you-read-it-here-first.com on January 31, 2013 at 9:49 AM · Report this
stinky 15
I got a paper cut from the insert in Quake 3 back when video games had a physical manifestation. Ain't never been shot.
Posted by stinky on January 31, 2013 at 9:45 AM · Report this
14
I'm with #10. I'm uncomfortable with the call of duty type games in kidult hands, let alone children. Eating dots or even killing zombies is one thing, but they ultra-realistic kill-the-foreigners theme is gnarly. You know in your heart those are no good.
Posted by but i've never seen a study (not like i'd believe it) on January 31, 2013 at 9:44 AM · Report this
biffp 13
@8 is correct not to be naive about this. The NRA represents gun manufacturers (not holders), and there is a lot of money at risk here. Alexie's quote really highlights the ridiculousness, but this debate is really about protecting profits of RNC donors. I'd say, "blaming video games, is like cigarette manufacturers blaming air quality for cancer rates."
Posted by biffp on January 31, 2013 at 9:44 AM · Report this
12
@10: Did watching the movie "Speed" make anyone think they had to hijack a bus? Why should shoot-em-ups make anyone think they have to shoot something up?

But I'm all for the tax. Hell, call it 10%. Also tax and annually license guns. If I have to license my cat (which is merely a revenue thing, not a safety thing), gun nuts should have to pay to own a gun.
Posted by originalcinner on January 31, 2013 at 9:41 AM · Report this
Max Solomon 11
@8: GOP Senators posess cunning, which is a kind of intelligence, I suppose. GWB had it, but I would'nt go as far as saying that Lamar Alexander (or McCain, or McConnell, or Kyl, or Inhofe, or Vitter, etc. ad nauseum) is intelligent.

Posted by Max Solomon on January 31, 2013 at 9:38 AM · Report this
10
Guns are the largest problem, true. But the belief that insecure little boys aren't affected by media violence while Barbie Dolls and Disney movies are driving girls towards eating disorders and body image issues is ludicrous. I'm no more impressed by the "responsible" consumer of gratuitous violence than I am by a "responsible" gun owner. Put a 5% tax on video games and movies with mature ratings and put the money towards mental health care.
Posted by DisorganizedReligion on January 31, 2013 at 9:34 AM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 9
LOL What a clown!
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on January 31, 2013 at 9:22 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 8
If you think he's doing this because he's stupid, think again. Scapegoating and deflecting are proven tactics. Alexander knows exactly what he's doing.
Posted by Matt from Denver on January 31, 2013 at 9:20 AM · Report this
Keister Button 7
Someone needs to tell Rep. Alexander that Nehemiah Griego, the 15-year-old who shot dead his mom, three siblings and his dad, was not allowed video games because "they are too violent." His parents' choice to leave guns around the house in easy access of their "I wanna be a soldier so I can kill people" son was not the better choice, in hindsight. Nehemiah was denied TV too, but guns, they were okay. I guess it takes a speshul kind of mind to do cognitive dissonance acrobatics: maybe there's a cerebral Cirque de Bushmaster in some subcultures.
Posted by Keister Button on January 31, 2013 at 9:20 AM · Report this
Fnarf 6
He went on to explain that kids having access to VCRs and Princess extension phones in the bedroom were responsible for the spread of pornography, and also, there are kids sneaking cigarettes behind the 7-11 RIGHT THIS MINUTE who might be giving your children drugs or comic books.
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on January 31, 2013 at 9:16 AM · Report this
5
Oh, that Alexie line is spot on. I'm using that.
Posted by gloomy gus on January 31, 2013 at 9:14 AM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 4
Bobby Jindahl did say they are the stupid party.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on January 31, 2013 at 9:10 AM · Report this
3
I'm glad the NRA's making an issue of this because it shows just how retarded the whole thing is. It wasn't long ago that Democrats would make this same stupid argument about video games. In fact, I remember somebody from the Stranger, can't remember the name, posting on the slog about the threat of those awful games.

Posted by GermanSausage on January 31, 2013 at 9:09 AM · Report this
Pick1 2
Says the man who has never touched a video game in his life?

Clearly, we should all be listening to him.
Posted by Pick1 on January 31, 2013 at 9:09 AM · Report this
1
I've never understood the NRA's correlation between gun violence and video games. Other countries have the same video games, but nothing like the same level of gun violence. It's all those freakin' GUNS that cause the violence, which other countries just don't have.
Posted by originalcinner on January 31, 2013 at 9:00 AM · Report this

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