(iWIDK By David Giltinan/Ultra Mega Death Ray) - In a mere five days, a pile of video games and movies will go up in flames for (what else?) THE CHILDREN!
Oh, Simpsons. Is there anything you haven’t taught us?
SouthingtonSOS, a group formed in the wake of the Sandy Hook School shooting, have a burning of violent media scheduled for January 12th. This includes video games, movies, and CDs. It will be a “buy back” program which compensates people submitting these items with gift certificates for family friendly activities.
Is this yet another claim that violence in video games causes violence in real life? According to Southington YMCA executive director John Meyers, this event is about something more than that.
“We’re concerned about our kids getting desensitized. Desensitized to violence and desensitized to other risky behavior.”
According to the program’s description, this event does not mean to claim that violent video games caused the shooting last month. Rather, it is a statement that all violent media (minus books for some strange reason) “contributed to increasing aggressiveness, fear, anxiety and is desensitizing our children to acts of violence including bullying.”
The SouthingtonSOS can sugarcoat their statements all they like but in the end it comes down to finding a scapegoat. Video games have been an easy target for these types of allegations in recent history especially thanks to the increase of school shootings. These atrocities are horrible, I get it and agree as does every other levelheaded person out there. Just don’t try to dress up the issue as a psychological examination of society when there is a clear agenda underneath it.
I took it upon myself to learn more about the shooter on that fateful day. He was a 20 year old named Adam Lanza who was considered to be autistic by those who knew him and was actually diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. This left him socially awkward while under the watchful eye of his mother who happened to be a gun enthusiast. For some reason, it dawned on her that giving her son a semi-automatic weapon was an appropriate idea as well as taking him out to a firing range for six months before the massacre.
The Bushmaster AR-15 rifle used by Adam Lanza
Adam, like most any person his age, played video games. The idea that he might not be able to differentiate real life from the games he played isn’t too far-fetched given his condition. On top of that, you have the mother introducing him to guns and even giving him a Bushmaster (shown above). With all that considered, you have to think there’s a lot more being said by the SouthingtonSOS by staging this burning.
For one thing, that same program description I brought up before specifically names the event a “violent video games return program” while sprinkling in that movies and CDs are included as well. Since they knew that news programs would be asking about what kind of statement the group was making, they figure to encompass all violent media while tiptoeing over the subject. It’s all about fighting against “desensitization” in children, not to make video games the scapegoat. Perish the thought!
Gameplay image of Ninja Gaiden 3
The bottom line is this. Any sensible person looking at the image above can separate the carnage being done here and a similar type of scenario in real life. Just look at images from war torn countries in Africa or the Middle East. There’s a different effect that kind of imagery has on a person that’s different from chainsawing people in Gears of War 3 or sniping someone in the head in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.
If you’re going to form a group to help cope with this tragedy, don’t get your own personal politics muddied up in it. The average person isn’t going to understand what was going on in Adam’s head which is why we have specialists who help folks like him. It would also help, as parents, to use some common sense and maybe NOT give the kid with a personality disorder access to weapons.
If we can all do our part helping each other as people instead of running around in circles trying to find something or someone else to blame, then we will be better for it. The first step is to realize where the blame really belongs; ourselves.
David Giltinan writes about movies, video games, and is a nerd-culture expert. He writes consistently on his website UltraMegaDeathRay.com.