It's been nearly a year since the Sandy Hook tragedy and if we've learned anything at all in the aftermath it's that we've learned nothing at all in the aftermath. Whether you're an advocate of gun control, an advocate for the link between violence and video games, or an advocate of the NRA, it really doesn't matter. The only thing to come out of the tragedy was a ton of talk, a boon for our stupid cable news networks' ratings, and the exceptional vacuum in which absolutely no conclusions were drawn and nothing was done. Twenty-six people were murdered, most of them children, and the needle hasn't moved in either direction one iota. Well done, everyone.
Wait, I forgot one other lesson we should all have learned from the tragedy: major media and a large swath of our fellow citizens somehow combine being reactionary and willfully ignorant in a way that would be cartoonishly hilarious if it weren't so damned maddening. And now we have the opportunity to re-learn that lesson as we watch the reaction to a "video game" inspired by Sandy Hook in which everyone gets everything wrong from every side possible. Here's how the game is described in the media:
"The Slaying of Sandy Hook Elementary" directs gamers to storm virtual classrooms with an AR-15 assault rifle in the same vein as Lanza and displays a kill ratio at the end. The game's release comes less than a month before the first anniversary of the Dec. 14 massacre.
This is, at best, only half the story. What most reports omit or bury is that the second part of the game has you attempt the same assault, but you're forced to use a sword because theoretical gun-control laws have kept you
from being able to use a gun. Under the limitations of a countdown, the entire point of the game is that with a sword you can't rack up the body-count you can with a gun. It's an artistic statement on gun-control.
Now, I can already hear my friends in the comments section gearing up for a conversation about freedom, the 2nd amendment, and the uselessness of gun control. Don't. Not because I disagree with you or think your arguments are invalid (I don't), but because that isn't what this post is about. This is about freedom of speech and the importance of artistic expression on the issues of our day, as well as how completely incapable our media and some citizens are at having even a semblance of an intelligent conversation about this. And this comes from all sides, gun-rights folks and gun-control folks, conservative or liberal, it doesn't matter. Everyone comes out of this sounding stupid, because nobody seems to bother actually learning what this game is and is all about. Take a family member of one victim, for instance:
"I'm just horrified," Llodra said. "I just don't understand, frankly, why anyone would think that the horrible tragedy that took place here in Sandy Hook would have any entertainment value. It just breaks my heart."
Great, except the game isn't designed for entertainment purposes, it has a message about the useless reaction to the tragedy. In other words, you don't know what you're talking about. Because you didn't actually see the game or the site, where you would have heard:
In an audio recording on the site, Lambourn describes himself as a U.S. expatriate from Houston who resides in Australia. There, he said, gun laws enacted after the fatal shooting of 35 people at a popular tourist destination in 1996 have stemmed the tide of violence.
Llodra missed the message. As did the NRA:
The NRA called the simulation "reprehensible," but was reluctant to comment further, saying it didn't want to give more ink to "this despicable excuse for a human being."
It's not a simulation, it's artistic commentary, and it's especially funny for an organization that puts out its own "games
" about shooting all kinds of things. And those games are targeted to elementary-aged school children. Note: I don't have a problem with the games themselves, only the hypocritical commentary from the NRA. This hatred of hypocrisy isn't reserved for conservative groups like the NRA, either. Here's champion hypocrite Richard Blumenthal, Democrat Senator from Connecticut.
"I find the exploitation of this unspeakable tragedy is just shocking," Blumenthal told Hearst. "From what I've heard and what's been shown to me, it's absolutely abhorrent. My hope is that it will be voluntarily taken down because it's offensive and hurtful."
Got it? It's shocking for anyone to exploit the Sandy Hook tragedy for their own aims. I wonder how shocking Blumenthal found, you know, himself
back in March, when he said:
A "sensible compromise" can still be reached on gun-control legislation in the Senate, Sen. Richard Blumenthal said on Sunday, saying the "shock and terror of Newtown" was still a major motivating factor for lawmakers.
So it's cool to exploit the tragedy to pass the laws you want, but not cool to exploit it to advocate for passing...the same damn laws you want? Which you didn't know was the message of the game, because some reporter called you up, told you someone made Doom
but set it in Sandy Hook, and your head exploded into a shower of dumbass responses. What the hell?
So, please, please, please
learn this lesson: thou shalt know what thou art talking about before talking about it. I know, it's really hard, especially for ratings-driven controversy whores like the media or grandstanding politicians, but just try it out. In other words, it's entirely possible to hate what happened at Sandy Hook while still leaving room for artistic, even controversial, speech on the matter. Cowboy-up, Americans, this really shouldn't be too hard.