[THIS OPINION PIECE TALKS ABOUT A VERY DISTURBING TOPIC, IF IT BECOMES TOO MUCH TO HANDLE, PLEASE STOP READING. WE UNDERSTAND]
Before I continue, I would like to let you all know that I tend to lean more Republican than I do Democrat and just because I lean more right does not mean that I agree with the attacks on digital media like video games.
This past weekend, America went to mourning following the two mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. These shootings have left over 30 people dead and dozens more injured. Like most Americans, I asked myself, how did this happen and how can we stop this from happening again. However, the most important question of all, why did the shooter do this? Some blame 8chan, and radicalized people on YouTube, some blame mental illness, but some politicians believe video games are to blame. Specifically, President Trump and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick of Texas.
We first heard from Lt. Governor Patrick and his stance of this during a Fox News interview. During his interview on the Fox & Friends interview, Patrick is quoted as saying “We’ve always had guns, always had evil, but I see a video game industry that teaches young people to kill” and “How long are we going to ignore – at the federal level particularly – where they can do something about the video game industry? In this manifesto that we believe is from the shooter, this manifesto he talks about living out his super-soldier fantasy on Call of Duty. We know that the video game industry is bigger than the movie industry and the music industry combined”.
I’m sorry Lt. Governor Patrick but no, you cannot have federal government regulate violence in video games, a digital media protected by the First Amendment. The violence of video games falls under the protection of the right to free speech. The violence that can found in games like Call of Duty, Battlefield, Borderlands, etc, are considered to be the company’s free speech and therefore cannot be restricted or regulated. The protection of video games under the First Amendment was secured in 2011 following the outrageous 2005 California law that criminalized the sale of violent video games to minors.
The late Supreme Court Justice Antonio Scalia is quoted in the ruling.
California relies primarily on the research of Dr. Craig Anderson and a few other research psychologists whose studies purport to show a connection between exposure to violent video games and harmful effects on children. These studies have been rejected by every court to consider them, and with good reason: They do not prove that violent video games cause minors to act aggressively. Instead, [n]early all of the research is based on correlation, not evidence of causation, and most of the studies suffer from significant, admitted flaws in methodology. They show at best some correlation between exposure to violent entertainment and minuscule real-world effects, such as children’s feeling more aggressive or making louder noises in the few minutes after playing a violent game than after playing a nonviolent game.
Besides, stores like GameStop, Target, and Walmart already have corporate policies in place, prohibiting the sale to minors unless a legal guardian is with them, which is allowed as it is a policy imposed by a vendor, not a government.
Also, where is the concrete evidence that violent games teach young people to kill? Studies show the opposite actually.
A study published this past February from The Royal Society of Open Science concluded that there was no link between violent games and violent behavior. One of the researchers behind the study, Professor Andrew Przybylski from Oxford University said:
The idea that violent video games drive real-world aggression is a popular one, but it hasn’t tested very well over time. Despite interest in the topic by parents and policy-makers, the research has not demonstrated that there is cause for concern.
Przybylski has also pointed out that there are multiple studies out there that came out with the same conclusion.
On Monday, August 5, President Trump said: “We must stop the glorification of violence in our society. This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace. It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence. We must stop or substantially reduce this and it has to begin immediately”. Following those remarks, Take-Two, EA, and Activision’s stocks actually dropped severely. Possibly because the El Paso shooter mentioned Call of Duty in his manifesto once.
President Trump, I can understand that you want our society to not be subject to so much violence. America has a lot of violence in our culture and that is something we cannot deny. We have video games like Call of Duty and movies like Avengers, Mission Impossible, Saving Private Ryan, etc, however, just because our culture is full of it, it does not mean it actually has an effect on all of us.
If we were to stop glorifying them and condemning it, we would be punishing the majority of America for actions of those who used violent media to justify their acts. We need to condemn those who use it as an excuse, not the media used to excuse one’s abhorrent behavior.
Even if parents allow their children to play games that are violent and watch movies that are violent, they should also keep an eye on their kids just to make sure that the kids are not showing signs that they will hurt others and if they do, they need to take the media away.
At the end of the day, we all agree that we cannot continue to allow these horrible shootings but we cannot blame the games that many Americans play. However, that’s my opinion and I want to hear from you, the readers of PixelBay.
You can reach out to me in two ways: