A gunman left 20 children and six adults dead when he broke into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. last Friday and began shooting. The massacre has revived public debate about guns in American society and along with it, the role of violent video games.
Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman said he thought there should be a national commission to examine violence in video games, and to address the issue of violence in entertainment. He said it's clear violence in the entertainment world can contribute to violence in the real word:
The violence in the entertainment culture—particularly, with the extraordinary realism to video games, movies now, et cetera—does cause vulnerable young men to be more violent ... Doesn't make everybody more violent, but it's a causative factor in some cases.
Lieberman did say he knows not everyone who plays video games are killers, but evidence shows people who watch violent entertainment are "more aggressive."
Timothy F. Winter, the president of the Parents Television Council, has written in U.S. News that video games are especially troubling because of their interactive nature:
Video games are uniquely problematic in that the viewer isn't simply sitting back and watching the violence. Rather, he or she is actively engaged in the undertaking of the violence, choosing whom to kill, beat, rape, maim, or urinate on. Yet opponents say they're not convinced that there is any harm, much like the tobacco industry executives who testified to Congress that they weren't convinced their products were unhealthy.
But others, like Think Progress's Alyssa Rosenberg, argue that blaming video games for the unexplained violence in Newtown is diversionary, and only distracts from the real issues at hand:
And there's something deeply sophistic ... about pivoting away from questions of effective gun control to proposals for video game regulation or condemnation. At least discussion of the mental health care system is part of a reasonable tapestry of efforts, including gun control, that we ought to be considering, if not a substitute for conversations about magazine capacities and the reinstatement of the assault weapons ban. Blaming video games or any other kind of violent media for causing violence in the real world is a dodge from policy solutions.
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