Two More Politicians Claim Video Games Are The Real 'Problem'
from the who-needs-research-when-you've-got-baseless-conjecture dept
Just last week, Connecticut senator Chris Murphy gave a speech in support of Sen. Dianne Feinstein's new gun control bill in which he dropped this somewhat mystifying statement:
"I think there’s a question as to whether he would have driven in his mother’s car in the first place if he didn’t have access to a weapon that he saw in video games that gave him a false sense of courage about what he could do that day."
Beyond the confusing wording is a statement that Murphy inelegantly tries to frame as a "question:" Video games gave Lanza "the courage" to kill small children. The clumsy wording is Murphy's attempt to tie in the legislation he's supporting with his preconceived notion of the power violent video games supposedly have. Note the painful stretch that occurs in this phrase: "if he didn't have access to a weapon that he saw in a video game that gave him a false sense of courage." These stated-as-fact thats are heavily reliant on a leading if, turning the whole sentence into a triumph of suggestive conjecture.
Taking it apart further, you get this phrase: "if he didn't have access to a weapon he saw in a video game." That's the truly amazing section of the sentence. Murphy wants to ban "assault rifles" because they appear in video games? I seriously doubt that. He wants to ban them because he thinks the ban will prevent further violence. He very badly needs a second scapegoat because he knows his first scapegoat (assault rifles) might prove immune to his efforts. So, we get this tortured bit of logic that most certainly makes sense to Murphy, but falls apart under the slightest bit of examination.
Should the next step be to ban any weapons that appear in video games? Or should we put the cart before the horse (or perhaps behind the horse again?) and ban violent video games to prevent future would-be killers from somehow drawing the courage to pick up a matching, real-life weapon? Which should go first: the "access" or the video game? I think Murphy wants both, but since this is Feinstein's party, he has to settle for grafting on his gaming views with all the grace of an inept surgeon reattaching someone's severed limb... to someone else's chest.
Then there's Sen. Lamar Alexander. Rather than answer a direct question about gun control, he sidesteps it with an attack on video games:
Chuck Todd: "Can you envision a way of supporting the universal background checks bill?"Alexander is correct about the what's protected by what amendment, but it's clear that he'd rather go after the First. It's nothing more than Alexander swapping out the topic he'd rather bury with one he'd rather push. Not a surprising move, but it's another politician who's already made up his mind on the link between crime and video games and who is going to advance this viewpoint whenever given the opportunity.
Lamar Alexander: "Chuck, I'm going to wait and see on all these bills. You know, I think video games is a bigger problems than guns because video game affect people, but the First Amendment limits what we can do about video games. The Second Amendment of the Constitution limits what we can do about guns."
Politicians have long distrusted electronic entertainment, dating back to the 1940's, when New York City mayor Fiorello La Guardia ordered the destruction of several hundred pinball games, claiming they were "tainted with criminality" and "robbing" schoolkids of lunch money. As video games have grown in popularity and ubiquity, the moral panics and political scapegoating have kept pace, blaming this form of entertainment for everything from delinquency to lower grades to childhood obesity to murder.
While Obama's call for a study of the link between "violent media" and "gun violence" was very definitely a product of the current political climate, it was far more reasoned than the arguments being advanced by these politicians. Their minds are already made up and any information uncovered by the CDC study that fails to agree with their preconceptions will be disputed, distorted and ultimately ignored in order to tackle an opponent they think they can handle. These two don't appear to be confident they can push stricter gun control laws without suffering political damage, so they've brought along their own personal punching bag. Murphy's is a Plan B, should Feinstein's bill fail to make it through. Alexander's is a dodge, a soft underbelly to attack, far away from the more politically dangerous territory of gun control, but close enough to seem relevant.