Flordia AG Somehow Pivots To The Danger Of Video Games After The Latest Florida Shooting

from the facepalm dept

There is a long tradition in conservative politics for blaming video games whenever a mass shooting is carried out by a relatively young person. It’s a monumentally stupid argument, given the complicated and twisted nature of mass shootings and the motivations behind them. But, since policy and politics are now offered merely in soundbite formats, the end result of a mass shooting is for every person to retreat to their familiar corners and make lots of noises that ultimately accomplish nothing but stagnation.

The mass shooting that happened in Florida recently could have been a different story. While it indeed happened at a video game tournament, the gamers involved were playing Madden, not some violent shoot ’em up. If playing a football video game makes people angry enough to shoot people, just wait until those decrying video game violence turn on their TVs on Sunday and realize that there are actual people playing the same game for real. There was no indication anywhere that this shooting was carried out by anything other than an individual that likely had some severe mental problems and access to weapons. And, yet, somehow Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi addressed this latest shooting by pivoting directly to the dangers of kids playing video games and the predators that will harm them.

With the strength of a long history of conservative handwringing over the impact of violent video games on children’s minds to her back, Bondi went down a different road, instead warning parents that “predators” might find children through location services on video games.

Here is video of the interview in question.

If all of that sounds completely insane to you, you’re not alone. If you cannot view the video above, it consists of Bondi somehow, in the wake of a public mass shooting that occurred in her own state, warning parents that predators out there are using location tools in video games like Minecraft to hunt our children down and kill or otherwise hurt them. What any of this has to do with the shooting that just occurred is anyone’s guess.

Bondi went on to warn that parents should check the settings on the games their children are playing, because “predators can find you based on location services.” According to Bondi, “The scary thing is they could find out where your 13-year-old is sitting at home playing that game”—not, presumably, that almost anyone could have a gun anywhere, including at a pizza restaurant or a video game tournament. Bondi conveniently failed to mention that the two men who died in this incident were 27 and 22 years old.

“I know Minecraft, we’ve talked about that in the past, I don’t know about Fortnite,” Bondi also said. I have no idea what she’s talking about, and have reached out to Microsoft to clarify whether Minecraft does indeed feature any location services options. From what I can tell looking at my version of Fortnite on Nintendo Switch, there is no option that would reveal my location to other gamers.

So what the hell is all of this? Is it just a staunch conservative politician abdicating her responsibilities to push back against the familiar attack on gun rights that occurs after mass shootings like this? Is this sort of pivot to, in some way, any way, blame video games in the wake of shootings simply some Pavlovian reflex at this point? Or, given that Bondi has made waves and perhaps history as the only sitting AG that also occasionally fills in as a host for a cable news network, is she instead simply auditioning for her next career move?

Pam Bondi is still the attorney general of Florida, at least for another four months. But last week Bondi had a different job: co-host of Fox News’ The Five. She subbed on the news talk show not once, not twice, but three times, appearing as a panelist Wednesday through Friday.

The situation was so unprecedented for a sitting elected official that Bondi first sought guidance from the Florida Commission on Ethics, the government body that oversees conduct of public officials. Tallahassee lawyer Richard Coates “spoke to the Commission on behalf of the Attorney General” prior to appearing on the show, her spokeswoman Kylie Mason said.

You know… it’s the auditioning thing. And I’ll be damned if that isn’t yet another gross ingredient in this sickening bullshit pie that is somehow blaming Minecraft for a mass shooting at a Madden tournament.

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Comments on “Flordia AG Somehow Pivots To The Danger Of Video Games After The Latest Florida Shooting”

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81 Comments
Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

If playing a football video game makes people angry enough to shoot people, just wait until those decrying video game violence turn on their TVs on Sunday and realize that there are actual people playing the same game for real.

This is not the best possible example, given how many of those actual people turn out to actually be violent thugs who commit serious, violent crimes against their fellow man.

Gary (profile) says:

Re: Re:

This is not the best possible example, given how many of those actual people turn out to actually be violent thugs who commit serious, violent crimes against their fellow man.

I think he may be onto something – isn’t Super Sunday (TM!) a busy day for paramedics and police? (Quick research shows that is likely a myth though.)

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2

We could point to it as a contributing factor, though. For example: Even though no one in their right mind would say professional wrestling made Chris Benoit a murderer, the brain damage he suffered as a result of his pro wrestling career was at least a likely contributing factor to his murdering his wife and son before eventually committing suicide.

Will B. says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Which still doesn’t lead to major media outlets running stories about how wrestling is dangerous for your kids.

The point of the sentence you quoted from the article was to highlight the absurdity of attacking video games for causing violent behavior when – in this case specifically – the video game in question (or at least the one present at the original event, never mind the AG twisting the story toward fucking Minecraft for some reason) was nothing more than a digital version of a real sport played by real people and – as you point out – really dangerous in real life.

In short… I think you missed the point. The absurdity of the comparison is a feature, not a bug.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Correct me if I'm wrong,

but I believe the point here is: when football players commit crimes, we don’t blame the sport.

Not entirely; the players have their free will of course. But to say that the sport is entirely blameless is willful blindness at its worst. There’s a long history of football teams and/or leagues bailing out players, hiring lawyers and PR people on their behalf, paying off victims, etc, to keep their players out of jail and out of controversy so they won’t end up taken off the field where they stop being able to make money for the team. And as any behavioral economist could tell you, when you reduce the personal cost of a certain behavior, you are directly encouraging more of it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Probably not the most appropriate opportunity for semantic g

Except when the NRA has a “look at a good guy with a gun saving the day!”. Then it’s an immediate rush to sensationalize the shooting as quickly as possible.

Everything in right-wing media is carefully executed to benefit and protect the commercial gun market, at the obvious cost of actual people’s lives.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Probably not the most appropriate opportunity for semantic g

And even in the rare “good guy with a gun” stories, the NRA refuses to look at the sheer number of incidences of deaths that could have been prevented to begin with if there had been gun control. For instance, there’s never any questioning of if gun control reforms existed, would there have been a need for a “good guy with a gun” to stop a shooting?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Probably not the most appropriate opportunity for semantic g

“deaths that could have been prevented to begin with if there had been gun control.”

Agreed. Get rid of the guns, get rid of the alcohol, get rid of sugary crap foods and drink,and for the love of god get rid of cigarettes, none of that shit does anyone any good.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: This may be a little off-topic

Not really. It seems like an expedient, selfish thing to do for many reasons:

Despair makes people take out others before themselves (ie. the whole world is pain, so death is a favour I do for others before killing myself) or anger (everyone takes from me and never gives, so I give them death before putting myself out of my misery too).

Another reason is cowardice: they’d rather die than have to face the responsibility, whether that means eventual lifetime jail (rape?), a prolonged trial, or looking at their families in the eye.

I put self-knowledge and guilt pretty low on the possible reasons, which could at least make the person a bit better in my eyes, but we’d never know even if that was the case. Someone who decides to shoot up people in the first place is already functioning on shitty information or just blinded by a life of misery.

Maybe a few people who do mass shootings realize in the middle of killing that they’re a monster and decide they’ve done too much evil to live anymore. I’m pretty skeptical of that one, though.

I.T. Guy says:

A sad tragedy. But I kept thinking how glad I was that it was not a shooter tournament.
1. Because the body count would’ve been much higher.
2. The it’s-all-the-video-games-fault crowd would have another soap box to stand on.

It’s hard to convince people that playing madden makes a gunman. So… lets mention the popular, lets see:
Minecraft – Check
Fortnite – Check
Got your attention.

Fox = News Entertainment.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Who do you think would be a better shot? The guy that’s played 10000 hours of (insert arena shooter here) Or the Football guy?

The person who trained to use an actual gun.

I have played shooters from Doom to Halo to Time Crisis; I can also tell you that I would have a horrible time in trying to aim/shoot an actual gun. Playing first- or third-person shooter videogames no more prepares you to shoot an actual gun than playing football videogames prepares you to take a head-on collision from the moving brick wall that is a linebacker.

I.T. Guy says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“I would have a horrible time in trying to aim/shoot an actual gun.”

So… you’ve never tried? But state it as fact? Interesting.

You’d be surprised how easy it is to shoot with the accuracy needed to injure and kill. Not to mention being conditioned in tense fast paced high stress situations. It’s not rocket science.

“The person who trained to use an actual gun”
So all killers are trained sharpshooters now?

“prepares you to shoot an actual gun than playing football videogames prepares you to take a head-on collision”
Apples and oranges here. Shooting for skill and being a blocking dummy are totally different.

Playing the football game will absolutely teach you the rules and strategies of the game.

Playing shooters will absolutely prepare you for the strategies needed in an urban assault situation.

Accuracy does not matter when you are shooting into a crowd.
I never said they could shoot a quarter at 100 yards, i think the volume of injured would have been a lot higher.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“Playing shooters will absolutely prepare you for the strategies needed in an urban assault situation.”

It depends doesn’t it?

I doubt your local LEOs train with Doom or CounterStrike. More likely they train with specialty software written to accurately simulate real world conditions.

But yeah – go ahead and dream about how much of a gun slinger you are cause the chics really dig a gun slinger.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

you’ve never tried? But state it as fact?

I have shot paintball guns and the like before, but never a real firearm. Given that lack of experience and my degraded eyesight, yes, I feel confident in saying I would be a poor shot.

So all killers are trained sharpshooters now?

I do not respond to instances of otherwording.

Apples and oranges here. Shooting for skill and being a blocking dummy are totally different.

And yet, no one can adequately prepare for either activity by playing videogames. To wit:

Playing the football game will absolutely teach you the rules and strategies of the game.

It will not give you the physical conditioning and real-world experience necessary to be a good football player. Playing NFL 2K5 for a year or so did nothing to make me a physically fit person who could lob deep bombs into the end zone while a defensive line rushed toward me.

Playing shooters will absolutely prepare you for the strategies needed in an urban assault situation.

They will not give you the mental conditioning to shoot at another person with the intent of taking them down/out nor the physical/mental conditioning needed to carry out those “strategies”. Playing everything from Duck Hunt to GoldenEye 007 did nothing to improve my eyesight, steady my hands, and give me the mental conditioning needed to actually shoot at another living being.

Videogames, no matter how realistic, cannot and will not prepare you for a real-life active shooter situation—no matter if you are the shooter or the victim. To claim otherwise is to claim foolishness.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

“Playing everything from Duck Hunt to GoldenEye 007 did nothing to improve my eyesight, steady my hands, and give me the mental conditioning needed to actually shoot at another living being.”

Not to mention it wouldn’t give you the knowledge on how to actually use a real weapon (the actions required with an actual gun would be rather different than those of a mouse & keyboard), how to load and effectively reload it in a combat situation, how to physically account for recoil, etc.

There’s a hell of a lot involved in using a real weapon that you never get experience with during a videogame session, and that’s just off the top of my head from someone who has also never used a real gun. It doesn’t matter how “realistic” they are, they will only cover a part of the knowledge you would need in real life. The person with real world experience will be better than the person who has never touched a real world weapon no matter how many hours they put into CoD.

Will B. says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Actually, probably the “football guy,” since the Madden player is slightly more likely to be active in actual sports, which would make them stronger, faster, and better at aiming, leading a target, and being aware of their surroundings.

Video game point and click shooty shooty does not equate in any way to real world firearm skills.

Of course, better indicators than “does he play CoD or Madden” would be things like “Does he have access to guns, a troubled home life, has he been diagnosed with any mental illnesses, is he a bully or troublemaker at shool or a jerk at his job,” et cetera – but those are coooomplicated, so let’s focus on the video games thing ’cause that’s easy. /s

John Cressman says:

It TOTALLY Makes sense...

It totally makes sense that evil violent video games cause real violence! I mean… what… 100-200 Million games and a handful of incidents where the violent offender actually PLAYED video games each year.

Makes perfect sense!

Let’s say it’s 100 incidents per year. That’s 1 in 100000 or 1 in 200000.

If a medication (or say cigarettes) has a VERY serious side effect (even death) in a 1 in 100000 chance, let alone 1 in 200000, it would be approved by the FDA.

So slap a little notice in it that the Surgeon General has determined that video games may be harmful to your health… and be done with it.

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: It TOTALLY Makes sense...

I realize you are being sarcastic, but I feel the need to say this.

Except, that they haven’t determined that. In Fact, the most reputable studies, with large sample sizes and long term study, show no effect. The best we have is a short term (<30min) increase in aggressive tendencies.

Flagging that as ‘possibly harmful to your health’ will have an unwarrented deterrent effect.

Also your math is wrong. 100-200 Million players @ 100 incidents a year is 1 in 1,000,000 2,000,000, not 1 in 100,000 or 200,000.

Extremely Disingenuous Reporting Here (user link) says:

Re: Re: I am Not Pro-Semitic

Does not being pro-semitic equate withbeinganti-semitic,in yourADL world?

I mean~I adore Stanley Cohen, who writes for Counterpunch.comandthe Palestinian friends I once had before the FBI/DHS/Disruption campaign.

Why does your version of racism and race supremacy over-ride those who you label so willy-nilly?

Truly a scummy move on your part.

Love the comment moderation here, BTW-sure: free press, free speech, lol.

And Techdirt turning it all over to some Fusion Center/ ADLrat/anonymous “tipster,lol: I screen cap all of it for po sterity.

Anonymous Coward says:

Bad look for gun control

Before I was mostly agnostic on gun control on the grounds that the advocates for it didn’t know a six-shooter from a minigun and the opponents were often such gun-nuts that they were the last people you would want to have a gun.

But their response to mass shootings? Looking for a scapegoat isn’t the behavior of an innocent person at all. It is the behavior of someone who is guilty and they know it. Constantly trying to pin the blame on video games or the mentally disabled shows to me that even the NRA thinks that access to guns is a problem with mass shootings.

Anonymous Coward says:

Nobody tell her about schools

She’ll have a heart attack when she hears that there are hundreds of kids in one place for more than half of the year, supervised by adults who are not their children and worse they all go there at predictable times! And worse yet it is legally required to send them there! It is clearly a predator’s dream having such a thing is in existence! Why she was clearly never in one on herself!

BentFranklin (profile) says:

How can you write an article about Pam Bondi, and even mention the Ethics Commission, and not mention how she called off her investigation into Trump University just as she received $25,000 from Trump? Set the stage with that, so people know the kind of person you are talking about. Bring the context! Then we’ll understand better how much credence to lend her ideas.

(You’re usually pretty good about the context actually, so good in fact that’s what made this article stand out.)

John85851 (profile) says:

Video games are the problem, not guns

Here’s what I suspect happened: Bondi has realized that guns *are* the problem, but she’s somehow indebted to the NRA by way of lobbying, political contributions, or simply being a “good girl” and following the Republican Party line. So instead of blaming guns, she deflects the issue and blames it something irrelevant.
As many posters above have said, study after study has shown that violence in video games does not cause real-life violence. And I’m betting that some of these studies wee done 15 or 20 years ago.
Yet *an attorney general* doesn’t know about these studies?

To also put things into context, this is the same attorney general who continued to fight *against* gay marriage, even after the US Supreme Court ruled it legal.

Alan (user link) says:

About your anti-gun article

Your problem is that you seem to think your viewpoints are automatic, when in fact they are only automatic based on your closely held biases.

You are not doing your “publication” any favors in trying to cover technical topics (technology is based on physics and mathematics, not on your closely held politics) and also being an outlet for certain political viewpoints and slamming anyone who disagrees with those viewpoints. You somewhat detract from anyone believing you have well thought out perspectives about technology.

In all of these discussions on your website about guns in Florida, I see a decided lack of balanced thinking and awareness of the facts about the issue. Grow up a little, okay?

Extremely Disingenuous Reporting Here (user link) says:

British intelligence and Gamergate

It is extremely naieve, or possibly disingenuous of Techdirt to ignore the fact that the various FVEY militaries are eavily engaged in psychological profiling, and recruitment of gamers-or that #Gamergate was itself a military/IC operation.

William Atchison, a 21 year old man from New Mexico, was “flagged” by British intelligence~JTRIG,and then, followed online and off by the word police.

THEN he was plagued by the not-too-actually-busy FBI visits,who were informedby AIPAC types that Atchison was not ro-semitic,and THEN “community policing,”aka.organized gang stalking.

A British MP even wrote about it as relates to the (likely)deep stateinternet operation called “Kiwi Farm

http://matthewhopkinsnews.com/?p=5538

The internet~and games~are literally crawling withmilutary/police/intelligence community “deep state”operatives, who indeed wage psycholigical operations,as we saw #Gamergate flush with White Knightery, and regressive paternalism towards female gamers.

The whole #Gamergate was/is littered with FVEYs and Aussie intel operations.

Sure~ move along folks, nothing to seehere…..

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