President Barrack Obama’s demand for enlightenment regarding the connection between violent media and acts of violence has finally become a top priority. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are now reviewing a report by the Institute of Medicine that reiterates the President’s demands for more research on the subject. Currently under scrutiny are music, video games and even social media with the intention of uncovering how responsible these things are for tragedies such as the Newtown Massacre. The real questions we should be asking ourselves are what this means for our free speech, what we should expect and whether or not we’re headed in the right direction with study.
Believe it or not, this isn’t the CDC’s first time venturing into the territory of gun violence. Earlier this year, they released a study on the heavily debated topic in tow of President Obama’s 23 executive orders, which were put in play as a response to the Newtown Massacre. In one of those orders, violence with firearms was ruled a “serious public health issue” and “contagious,” thereafter causing it to be studied the same way a contagious disease would be. The approach drew a lot of skepticism over the government’s handling of the report, which ultimately determined that the defensive use of firearms is at least equally as common as their criminal use. It was also determined that when used for self-defense the injury rate from guns was lower in general.
This isn’t the only evidence uncovered by the government that’s contrary to popular misconceptions about video games either. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, part of the U.S. Department of Justice, reported that violent crime arrests decreased by 44% during the height of the video game industry between 1994 and 2000. To make matters worse, CBS’ Face the Nation had former FBI profiler Mary O’Toole come out and say that FBI profilers didn’t see video games as a direct cause of violence. Even the U.S. Secret Service did a study a decade ago that revealed that a diminutive 12% of those who committed violent crimes in schools had an interest in video games. Perhaps one could argue the times have changed, but the results seem to be patterns that manifest themselves over and over again.
But let’s delve into the hypothetical and say that video games are found, by some extraordinary means, to be a direct cause of violent behavior. According to Psychologist Peter Langman Ph.D., author of Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters, some school shooters aren’t bullied or loners at all. Their antisocial personalities render them unable to distinguish the difference between their real and virtual lives. This goes hand in hand with O’Toole’s description of the FBI profiler’s perspective on video games and violence. “We see them as sources of fueling ideation that’s already there,” she said in an interview with CBS. Following that hypothetical, what happens from there? Do we order background checks on gamers? Do we enforce some type of censorship, and if we do, do we begin censoring the rest of the media as well? All of these ideas seem ludicrous.
Violent video games are an issue that continues to spark heated debated across our country. Even after all of the studies saying video games alone don’t cause violence alone, people continue to scapegoat these products for their parenting failures. In actuality, they should be asking the tough question of what their demands mean for our freedom of speech. The First Amendment is a constant battleground where we fight stave off censorship and infringements on the right to enjoy the art and messages that our entertainment industry chooses to create. The protection of even video games is vital to uncovering the real issues that cause mass shootings. This fight is one that means the preservation of unhindered creativity; the ideas and pieces of art that shape our culture positively and negatively. No one should have a right to step in control those things directly, not even the government. Read more at Progamerreview.com where they delve deep into this subject and more about the gaming revolution.