Another Politician Boards The Bandwagon: Sen. Rockefeller Blames Violent Games And Television For Newtown Tragedy

from the that's-my-drum-and-i'm-going-to-beat-the-hell-out-of-it dept

As Mike covered earlier, politicians are particularly opportunistic beasts, willing to turn any tragedy into a soapbox and a chance to push through pet legislation. Even if the politicians aren’t particularly wed to gun control or censorship, they're more than willing to get on the bandwagon if it will net them a little facetime with the press or the appearance of “doing something.”

The latest addition to the list of opportunists is Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who states that something needs to be done about violent video games and movies, whether or not they had anything to do with last week's tragedy.

We also need to look at the violence our kids see every day starting at a young age. By the time children reach 18 years old, they have seen tens of thousands of violent images – on television, the internet, or video games. As parents, research confirms what we already know – these violent images have a negative impact on our children’s wellbeing. While we don’t know if such images impacted the killer in Newtown, the issue of violent content is serious and must be addressed.

Rockefeller doesn't specify any particular research, but then, this is a press release, not an editorial. And despite admitting that everything he's worried about may not have affected the Newtown killer, something must still be done because… well, because this is Rockefeller's pet issue.

Back in 2007, Rockefeller led a push to grant the FCC “explicit authority” over violent and indecent programming, including the assessment of heftier fines for violators. Back then, he used his “tens of thousands of violent images” scare quote as well, and mentioned a wealth of research that backed up his assertions… but failed to name a single study in his press release.

Having failed with this initial push, Rockefeller saddled up the hobby horse again in 2009, revisiting the Children's Television Act. He claimed this was just a fact-finding mission and not another attempt to push the FCC to clean up television to his exacting specifications. One is almost tempted to believe him, right up until he details his frustration with the reactions of his fellow senators to his FCC-related effort.

He said he had not been deterred by the reactions of his fellow Senators to a hearing last year at which he featured a clip reel of violent programming. He said he was shot down, mostly by members of his own party, because of concerns over the First Amendment. “There was an automatic mindset that because the First Amendment exists, you cannot even be talking about this so don't waste my time. I was furious, and I was undeterred.”

As everyone knows, the First Amendment only protects speech you 100% approve of.* How dare these so-called Senators express concerns about turning the FCC into a tool of censorship! It's refreshing that Rockefeller remains “undeterred” in his efforts to sacrifice the First Amendment on the altar of “protecting the children.”

*100% not a fact.

He's a few years behind his biannual schedule, but Rockefeller is riding high in the hobby horse saddle yet again, thanks to America's rather more frequent delivery of exploitable tragedies. He may have made a few points on gun control and mental health in this release, but he undoes any forward momentum by opportunistically exhuming his “violent media” platform.

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Comments on “Another Politician Boards The Bandwagon: Sen. Rockefeller Blames Violent Games And Television For Newtown Tragedy”

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Mesonoxian Eve (profile) says:

We can definitely start blaming games for the state of the country.

First, there’s Monopoly, as played by Apple, RIAA, MPAA, Monsanto, and any other company which feels competition isn’t the American dream.

Second, there’s Mouse Trap, as played by the FBI, NSA, and ICE, who either builds their own traps to catch the mouse, or is lead through the game by others, oblivious of what’s in store.

Third, there’s So You Think You’re Smarter Than A 5th Grader, which many in our Congress constantly play, but fail.

And Finally, there’s Life, which the rest of us play. Except we don’t get the same results of the actual game. There’s a hidden wheel, under the main one, which inflicts a heavy toll on the wheel we get to see. For example, you’ll roll and draw “Company does well. Get $50,000 bonus.” and the hidden wheel says, “Health Care Reform Act, higher taxes, erosion of Middle Class reduces bonus into the negative, forcing player to owe.”

Yeah. Let’s blame games for everything. /sarcasm

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Better option for the game most of us get to play: Public Assistance (

For those who don’t want to click, it’s a board game from 1980, great satire. You have 2 tracks to go on, either “the working person’s rut” where you CONSTANTLY have to spend money to survive or “able-bodied welfare recipient’s promenade” where you get money for nothing and have the time and chance to do illegal things which make you MUCH more money than anything else could.

The downside is you could go to jail…..where you could end up lining up better crimes for when you get out of jail.

And in the end, regardless of how you got your money, whoever gets the most after going around the board a set amount of times, wins.

Sounds a lot more like life, than A Game of Life, eh?

Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

And what percentage of the population fits this bill? Seriously…do you realize that these programs are sold to the taxpayer as helping the helpless which are such a minimal percentage of the population. Reality is the programs help line the pockets of many more fraudsters and lazy bums who would rather get a free check than work at Walmart because it pays better.


Re: Re: Re:2 called job creators.

Being on disability is not something I would wish on my worst enemy. It’s not nearly as glorious as the media propaganda has led you to believe.

That said: when public assistance makes more economic sense than having a sh*t job then perhaps it’s time to ease up on the anti-labor/pro-corporate rhetoric.

Wally (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 called job creators.

JEDIDIAH, oddly enough, I agree. I would never wish government assistance on anyone as well. My brother is on disability. He cannot find a skilled job specifically within the accommodations he needs at this moment…He, like I, live in the leading state for accommodating those with developmental neurological disorders (Ohio was the first state to provide a work program for those with developmental disorders). He doesn’t handle money well and I’m his arbiter in the finance function. He volunteers to compensate for the money the state gives him, and in spite of his tendencies, people love him for who he is.

Wally (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“Reality is the programs help line the pockets of many more fraudsters and lazy bums who would rather get a free check than work at Walmart because it pays better.”

Chuck, that is the least sense I’ve ever heard from you…ever. The programs are set up so that in order to qualify for disability, you must make below a certain amount of money in your name. This is the reason why I am an arbiter to my brother so we can make sure he doesn’t go above a certain amount. State law in Ohio requires an arbiter so that any money earned within a 90 day job trial can be kept by those who actually earned it. It prevents those who may not know whether or not they made too much and therefor, would get funding cut otherwise. Insurance costs have gone up so much that it’s necessary to keep up a third party escrow account so those who have to pay for Meds, can.

Chuck, my mother (God bless her) works for a company that audits for Medicare fraud in hospitals. The problem isn’t people pocketing the money and doing nothing, it’s mostly fraudulent doctors making fraudulent claims.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

They chose to breed. A consequence of breeding is that you are responsible for the actions of your offspring. Children are rarely held truly accountable for their own actions, for various reasons, some good and others bad; the parents, whose job it is to teach them morals and ethics, are accountable. So it is neither wrong nor incorrect to criticize them, because they are ultimately responsible, unless of course society just wants to let “but my KIDS did it” be used as a ‘get out of jail free’ card, in which case, I’m gonna go have some kids then set some people that I don’t like on fire and blame my kids. Those darn kids playing too much Team Fortress 2’s Pyro class turned them into pyromaniacs, thats what I’ll say.. There was nothing I could have done to know about it or stop it, I’ll say.. it’s those darn incomprehensible video games, I’ll say…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: not more reasons disregarding the obvious

Mental health, Violent Games etc…. NEW for 2013…. “Parenting”

We are all one experience away from a “mental health” issue.
Except whoever is reading this, of course, you are special.

Video games are not real.
But…. I did eat a mushroom and headbutt a brick this morning.(needed the coin)

Good parenting can have a resulting madman.
Some studies show psychopaths have abnormal brain activities.

It’s 100% the amount and availability of guns
Americans seem to be completely brainwashed on this issue.
Most of them sound completely retarded when they talk about laws of guns.

No available guns = No gun crime
That is the starting measure. The rest of the determining factors ALL rely on if a gun is available.

You can’t kill a person with a gun…. . . . ?. ??.?? .?????.????????if there is no gun

Minds blown yet, Amerifats ?

Robert (profile) says:

Re: Re: not more reasons disregarding the obvious

“You can’t kill a person with a gun…. . . . . . . . if there is no gun”

So true, but if you plan to kill someone, who says you need a gun? You won’t be able to kill as many but you’ll still kill or injure people. Maybe the guy makes a pipe-bomb instead?

There are so many factors, but no one has done conclusive experiments to rule out any factor.

This guy may have decided the gun was his weapon of choice because it was there, or maybe he could have decided a explosive device was better. Who knows.

I’m not in favour of loosy-goosy gun control, but I’m not in favour of a band-aid(tm) either.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: not more reasons disregarding the obvious

Yes, go ahead and make weapons illegal. I’m sure that will work perfectly, right? Criminals will follow THAT law, won’t they? The sad truth is (other than ‘you are an idiot’) that just because you’ve banned guns doesn’t mean no one will have them. Criminals don’t /care/ about laws, or they wouldn’t be criminals in the first place.

DCX2 says:

Re: Re: Re: not more reasons disregarding the obvious

Ah yes, the old “if you make guns illegal, only criminals will have guns”.

However, there is the law of supply and demand. If guns are illegal, the supply will be much lower. “Only criminals will have guns”, yes, but fewer criminals will have guns. The real question is how many fewer, but it doesn’t seem like anyone ever wants to answer that question.

Robert (profile) says:

Not MM?

What, not Marilyn Manson?

What about the glorified coverage such people get? What about the glorification of violence on the news, so hyped up to make it all sound epic? Or those police chase shows where the narrator tries his best to make it seem like a $100 million dollar nail-biting thrill ride?

There are also lots of psychologists and psychiatrists jumping on the opportunity to use such a tragedy to get their names out there in the public.

One question, what were the people around such people who snap doing? Could it be you didn’t notice the changes in demeanor because you actually don’t care? Just like Amanda from BC, people claiming they cared, but what did they do to help her, to prevent her suicide?

If you really cared, you would notice the signs! If you don’t know the signs, start learning about them, start watching those around you. You never know how just a smile can make a huge difference in someone else’s bad day!

Other people matter too, just as much as you!

Robert (profile) says:

Re: Not MM?

Another option, as one person notes, is what were the parents doing? Are you so busy with providing for your children (uh, there’s more than monetary provision required in parenting) that you don’t even notice what they are consuming? A little context goes a LONG way!

And finally, the examples set forth by adults. Watch the news, what do you see, adults invading other countries for corporate gain, killing people over religious or geographic locations, rioting over stupid things like hockey games, taking any opportunity to oppress someone else, etc…

And you wonder why the youth do what they do, they also learn by example from adults, not necessarily parents or those in their every day life either.

So is it video games that are to blame, or is it much more than that, like society as a whole?

Combine that with strong levels of apathy, well it is not a surprise that people are snapping and choosing to make the biggest noise possible when they go! Why go quietly in a tree when you can take a bunch of innocent people with you and make the national or even global news?

And let’s not forget, the individuals themselves share in the blame! Sometimes when you hurt you have to say something, others are too fucking busy worrying about their own lives to notice yours.

DCX2 says:

Re: Re: Not MM?

Are you so busy with providing for your children (uh, there’s more than monetary provision required in parenting) that you don’t even notice what they are consuming?

It’s funny you should mention that. JUST the alimony payments to Adam Lanza’s mother put her into the top 1%. She got over $24k/month in alimony. There was no reason that she needed to be “busy providing for her children”.

gorehound (profile) says:

Hate These Guys

I just want to take a minute to Vent some Anger before I run off to play some Mass Effect.
I have been playing violent Adult type Games since Doom and Wolfenstein was released on floppy something like 17 or so years now.
And I have always loved violent War Films, Science Fiction, Action, and other films that has violence in it.
I also have been playing Rock Music since 1972 and I am an original punk from the 70’s still playing out.Two bands I am doing right now are Big Meat Hammer and The Lynn Rebels.My songs are pure punk rock and the lyrics are punk rock.
These kind of Politicians will attack my Art as well as Games and Movies.And they will not stop at games and movies.

Next time I kill a Collector or another Evil Space Threat I will think of these A-Holes who want to take our Freedoms away.

You Politicians need to deal with the real issues instead of screwing over Millions of us.I will not stand by and let our Nation turn into a Censorship Nation.And neither will Millions of other Americans.
Go fix your Gun Laws and Gun Issues.They are the real problem not your make believe Religious Type Censorship blah blah blah.

Jeffrey Nonken (profile) says:

Re: Hate These Guys

Much the same here, though my first computer games were text-based games on mainframes. Not exactly FPS, but some included shooting down other players. (Or their space ships, anyway. At 110 baud.)

Today for me it’s Killing Floor and Team Fortress 2 but I too got here via the Wolfenstein/Doom/Quake route. Sounds like our tastes in music differ but whatever, the violence is still… within people, not the music. Music is an expression, a release, not a cause. Ditto games.

Been playing violent computer games since 1974. Why am I not rampaging twice a week? Stockpiling firearms? Foaming at the mouth while I pontificate about the second amendment and how important it is for survival?

Maybe it’s not the music or the games at fault.

Jeff_Vader_runs_the_Deathstar? (profile) says:

Re: Hate These Guys

So basically your point is you’re on board with pissing away the rights of the rest of us just as long as it’s the ones you don’t use?

I’m gonna go ahead and try to keep ahold of all of them even if it means I keep having to hear about a couple of crap punk bands no one’s ever heard of or likely cares about.


Cory of PC (profile) says:

"We Should Do Something!"

… That’s really what I’m keep hearing out of this.

And I just wish that we have something to prove that no matter what we see, when we get to a certain age that these things will be determined whether or not it’s real or not. People are far more intelligent than who is in Congress.

And you know, if this is such a big deal, then why aren’t they taking this to where this is coming from? Since Hollywood, the music and gaming industries are the ones “responsible” for making these violent messages, then should they be the ones to take the blame? I can see this as being a same issue if there’s a whole lot of sexual imagery going around and there’s a wide boom in sexual activity going on in the country.

But there’s really nowhere we can go with this. It’s one for the parents to decide whether or not to get their family what is appropriate for them to watch, and it is up to the entertainment industry to help provide content that is family-friendly and safe for the general public. But we don’t have that and it’s not going to change unless people get smart and learn what is right and what is wrong.

… And I would like to say that sometimes, people are just crazy because they are like that. They rarely need something like a movie or video game to make them snap. It just take the right motivation from the right person to make that crazy person go mad. And this is part of the reason why I don’t bother with crazy people (most of the time) and I tend to keep my mouth shut (again, most of the time).

To when we get people in charge that actually knows these things instead of relying on (probably) bogus studies, then we’ll see some changes. Otherwise, stay away from our games and shows. We don’t need any more government influence on our entertainment…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: "We Should Do Something!"

” It’s one for the parents to decide whether or not to get their family what is appropriate for them to watch, and it is up to the entertainment industry to help provide content that is family-friendly and safe for the general public.”

Part one is correct.
Part two is not.
It is NOT up to the entertainment industry to help provide content that is family-friendly and safe for the general public.
They offer BOTH “family-friendly” and NON-“family-friendly” entertainment.
It’s up to the parents to make the choice for their kids.
Put the responsiblity where it belongs…the PARENTS!


Re: Re: "We Should Do Something!"

What passes for “family friendly” entertainment is no better than your average gore and splatter-fest. It just seems more benign because it’s less obvious. The “family fare” is still just as toxic if not more so.

This is the problem with taking a simplistic approach to this. People don’t get past the surface. They don’t try to determine root cause. They want easy answers and to treat symptoms rather than cure the problem.

Wally (profile) says:

Re: "We Should Do Something!"

Well, TV shows and their influence are a bit more real with that aspect than video games. My wife hates murder shows on Discovery ID because the human inside of her tends to have a huge “what if this happened to me?”‘ moment. That’s just as an adult…imagine being a child, knowing the events that you see on screen took place in real life….

The group I feel that is most responsible for the public’s skewed sense of rating systems in general is the MPAA. They consistently change their moral standards and regulations. Those of us in the real world have a much better sense of what our children can or cannot watch. Sad thing is, the MPAA changes their standards and reasons for various ratings so much that the rest of the ratings systems (ESRB and standard FCC television ratings) aren’t taken too seriously either.

jb says:

Re: Re: Things that make you go "hmmmm"

“someone walks into a school and kills 20 little children with a __________ (insert noun here).”

only the stupid and ignorant believe that guns kill people. blaming guns is about as sane as blaming god. “Apparently, God wanted those children dead. So, they’re dead.” effin morons. zealots and religion should be banned way before video games and guns.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Things that make you go "hmmmm"

According to a custodian I was talking to, one of his co-workers (in the stupidest fucking way to get an unscheduled day off from work, ever) combined bleach with another common cleaning liquid which created a poison gas that required the building to be evacuated. Assuming that is true, and so easily accomplished, we’d better ban janitors and cleaning chemicals too. The chemicals could easily be mixed near the air circulation system intake to release poison into the central air system, making for a much more effective means of mass-murder, only requiring a little creativity, but with a whole lot less law and regulation around it.

DCX2 says:

Re: Re: Re: Things that make you go "hmmmm"

Yes, I blame guns for school shootings. How many massacres with assault weapons do you see in the UK or Japan? Sure, violence ends up using other weapons like knives, but if I had the choice of being shot or stabbed, I think I’d take the stabbing.

Blaming guns doesn’t mean I want them taken away, though. No. I just want high-capacity magazines banned. I know hunters and not a single one of them needs a clip of 15-30 bullets to take down a deer or a rabbit.

I remember back in the day when a shooting meant less than a dozen people killed or injured. We’re now above two dozen being killed (Sandy Hook), or a dozen killed and five dozen injured (Aurora), or almost three dozen killed and one dozen injured (Virginia Tech). These shooters with high-cap mags are stopped once they need to reload; a reasonably sized magazine would mean they get stopped sooner and fewer people die.

JBDragon says:

Re: Re: Things that make you go "hmmmm"

The same day this even happened, in another country, 20 kids were stabed with a knife!!! I guess we should ban Knifes also!!! While we’re at it, Ban all the things that can be used to make bombs. That’s a whole long list of thing. We’ll cars kill millions every year, should ban that. Oh the Mass Murders going on that many all seem to be for, those of Abortions!!! The Mass killing of unborn kids!!! Many are all for that!!!

Movies, TV, Video Games, and on and on and on, to stop this all from happening right? The City’s with the Toughest Gun Laws like Chicago, Washington DC, N.Y, etc have the highest Crime Rates. I believe it was like 10 this last Weekend in Chicago alone Shot and killed? Where’s that news??? You know what Gun Bans get you, is the Criminals are the only ones with the guns and have free for all of no worries of being shot. Make all the Gun laws you want, doesn’t stop the Criminal. Look at mexico. There’s 1 Gun store in the whole country. Yo can only buy a low caliper 22 I believe and only with Government permission to do so. Very few Citizens own a Gun, yet all the Criminals do and there’s Mass Killings going on!!!

You know what would have protected those Kids in the School? Not no gun law, but teachers carrying Guns themselves! First off, that would have been a Determent of going their in the first place, secondly, he would have be SHOT pretty quickly, far fewer would have been killed!

Anonymous Coward says:

Research confirms what we already know

research confirms what we already know ? these violent images have a negative impact on our children?s wellbeing

A historic experiment: Seventy years ago, a team of courageous scientists did the unthinkable, the unimaginable. These brave scientists devised an experiment so imaginative, so unique, you will not believe it.

What did they do? They assembled two groups of babies. Twenty-five in each group. For the past seventy years, they’ve followed both groups in a long-term longitudinal study, from babies, into teenagers and young adults, and beyond into middle and old age. The study has focused on their overall, lifelong well-being.

One group was raised, and has lived their whole lives in the America we know. The America we are familiar with. This is the control group.

The other group of twenty-five has lived out their lives in an alternate America?a place in many ways like the nation we know?yet still a place that is different: a place where all the violent images have been deleted.


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Research confirms what we already know

To be fair, there was an experiment in the early 60’s that was run by a psychologist named Albert Bandura. He showed toddlers a video of someone beating the crap out of a clown with a hammer, then turned them loose in a room with a clown…and some hammers. The toddlers who’d watched the clown-beating video attacked the clown. Bandura concluded that exposure to violent images made toddlers more violent.

The issue, of course, is that most of the violent games and shows that Rockefeller is complaining about are also available in places like Canada and Europe. If media was the problem, you’d expect those countries to have rates of violence that approached the United States’. They don’t.

coward (anon) says:

Re: Re: Research confirms what we already know

That study (or at least its conclusion) is complete crap. Anyone who has ever raised a child knows that toddlers will mimic just about anything they see. It is part of the learning process. If we were talking about a toddler who played violent video games and shot up an elementary school, then maybe we could put some blame on the games. But more likely on the bad parenting of allowing a toddler to play Mass Effect.

cosmicrat (profile) says:

Sorry folks but...

I realize I’m not going to get much agreement here, but I have to say the pervasive environment of depicted violence very much does affect the minds of developing children.

About 20 years ago I was working at a community television station, and we did a lot of research, debate and discussion about media literacy. One area I looked into was the effects of TV and videogames on developing children. The results are chilling. Even relatively modest daily schedules of screen time produce physical changes in a growing brain. It was/is also obvious, and should be to anyone with common sense, that being exposed to graphic depicted carnage everyday for hours will have an effect on a persons mind.

Will most violent gamers go on to commit real acts of violence? Of course not. Most people remain well enough adapted that they function fine in the real world. But you are not being honest to say it doesn’t affect them at all.

This desensitization to violence, along with constant depiction of heroes with guns as the primary role model, along with the cyber-vulture like news coverage of every tragedy all contribute to the popularity of mass killing spree as a form of suicide for those who are already on the edge.

I am not in favor of censorship. I tend to agree with those who hold that it is the responsibility of parents to shield their children from violent content. I also realize that, given the modern environment of advertising, it can be pretty difficult to do that. My daughter, who is 9, thinks I am an unreasonable tyrant because I won’t allow videogames in the house. All her friends at school kill zombies and jack cars every night!

I tend to enjoy action movies myself, but I don’t tell myself that they aren’t part of the problem, they are. Those of you who love and promote these games, please enjoy them. I would certainly not try to censor your favorite mode of entertainment. But don’t try to avoid responsibility for your part of the problem. Violent videogames are one part of a sick and depraved culture of violence that tends to push some weaker minded individuals over the edge.

coward (anon) says:

The rest of the world

Aren’t these the same games and movies that are available in other countries? (That’s a rhetorical question, I work for a game company and I KNOW our games are available world wide.)
So why aren’t kids in Japan or the UK shooting up schools since they are exposed to the same evil depictions of violence? Maybe because they don’t have access to guns?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The rest of the world

Or mayb because in the rest of the world parents actually raise their childrens and do not depend on the government to do so?

But I’ll admit that having no EASY acess to guns and AMMO makes shooting someone else kinda difficult, don’t ya think?

Yeah, if it is still easy to buy enough bullets to remake Rambo IV with just a internet connection on the US, things like this will be common.

You can have all the guns you like, just make it harder to get ammunittion and poof! Magic happens, both sides, the ones pro gun control, and the ones against it, are happy.

Or, just keep on blaming violent games, music, movies and tv shows. Now, I’ll go back to listening to my Marilyn Manson and KMFDM, playing some Doom, watching Die Hard (it’s almost christmas) and some violent anime like Ninja Scroll.

Wally (profile) says:

Oh it gets better...

Man I’ll say it once, I’ll say it again….parents are responsible in guiding the moral compass of the child…violent video games are definitely not to blame.

This is actually a step up (meaning “better than”) from what major media (ie. CNN, Fox, CBS, NBC…) who are now blaming something VERY close to home for me for the incident…autism. This really pisses me off from all sides coming from having a brother who is autistic. He’s (my brother) the kindest most gentle person any person could meet. Funny thing is, it started as a whisper that maybe the shooter had a mental disorder, and then a whisper turned into a GODAMNED FUCKING GAME OF TELEPHONE.

Just a reminder to people that people with Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism have a neurodevelopmental disorder. It cannot full be treated with Meds, but some of the aspects of the neurological disorders can…OCD, ADD, and bipolar disorder are three of the prime examples. Medication cannot fully snub out the Autistic tendencies in Autism Spectrum Disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome.

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