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.