I should have seen this coming. As is the case with just about any mass shooting, people start looking for someone or something to blame. And once again, you have some on the religious right blaming video games for the recent murder rampage that occurred in Isla Vista, California.
Glenn Beck on Monday begged Americans to have a “real conversation” about the ramifications of video games on our nation’s children, saying “we don’t have any idea the damage that’s being done, because this is the first generation” where many have grown up more comfortable in “virtual reality” than actual reality.
The plea came after 22-year-old Elliot Rodger, the son of an assistant director on “The Hunger Games,” murdered six people and wounded several more on Saturday, authorities said. Rodger seemingly wrote a lengthy manifesto and created a number of disturbing YouTube videos before the attack, describing how he filled a void in his life with video games, only to find that he would “never have a satisfying social life ever again.”
“This loss of a social life coupled with the advent of puberty caused me to die a little inside,” the manifesto read. “It was too much for me to handle, and I stopped caring about my life and my future. I even stopped caring what people thought of me. I hid myself away in the online World of Warcraft, a place where I felt comfortable and secure.”
Beck said that Hollywood is trying to have it both ways by saying “you can’t have anybody smoking on television or in movies because it affects people,” but that continued exposure to horrific violence onscreen is “totally fine.”
“Please listen to me,” Beck begged his audience. “You’ve got to get the video games out of your child’s hands. Please. I’m having a hard enough time trying to do it in my own home. … Enough. No more. Because they cannot handle it. This is not the same as Pac-Man. It is not the same. These are virtual worlds where they live. They live in these worlds; talk to them.”
“Brains are being rewired here,” Beck’s co-host Pat Gray added, “and nobody is paying attention.”
Brains are being rewired? Seriously?
This is getting predictable and downright ridiculous to the point that those on the religious right deserve to be mocked every time they do this. How long are we going to blame video games for bad parenting and mental illness? And why are video games consistently singled out but rarely violent movies, which are much more prevalent? Or books?
I don’t care how much World Of Warcraft and Halo this kid played, video games do not drive people to mass murder. And there are literally tens of millions of people that can be pointed to who play Halo and who play World Of Warcraft and who play Call Of Duty and who play Mario Kart and who play StarCraft and who play all kinds of other games online every day who do not commit crimes that bear this out. There have been numerous studies on this over the last 20 years and no link between video games or violent video games and actual violence have ever been found. None. Zero. Nill.
In the past, I’ve had a lot of respect for Glenn Beck. I think he’s a smart, intelligent guy who knows a lot about the history of our country and is very good at teaching and explaining the basic principles of liberty. But if this is his direction now, then him and I are going to part ways very quickly. He sounds like a liberal talking about this, which is scary. (I’ve found that not knowing the facts and general ignorance about what you’re talking about breeds the same kind of attitudes that are usually found in left-wing thought and the people who embrace it.)
It’s the height of hypocrisy that people like Beck will stand up and defend gun-owners against those who want to blame the gun for a committed crime, but then have no problem doing THE EXACT SAME THING to video games and treating video games not very differently than anti-gun people treat guns.
From what I’ve read of this kid’s manifesto, he was lonely, isolated, and sexually frustrated. It sounds like he turned to video games as a refuge from that, when what he really needed was healthy parenting and someone to listen to him. Not more Halo and World Of Warcraft. This is about parents taking responsibility for their child’s upbringing and not letting TV, movies, and video games babysit their kids. And then when they act out because of neglect, blaming those very mediums or some other scapegoat. But he didn’t get the help he needed even though the warning signs were there. He obviously had a lot to say about his frustrations and anger, as is evidenced by his large 141-page manifesto wherein he is very blunt about what he’s going to do, why he’s going to do it, and how he’s feeling.
I’m not holding him blameless for his act. I believe he is mainly responsible for what he did. But if we’re going to look outside of that at how this could have been prevented, you start with the parents first and go from there. Blaming video games and movies for the consequences of parental neglect and mental illness is pure moral cowardice.