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.