The other shoe has dropped. Exactly two weeks to the day after a seventh-grader at a school in Newtown, Conn., organized a campaign to gather up violent video games, another group has taken the crusade to its next logical plateau.
The Guardian UK reports:
Southington SOS plan to offer gift certificates in exchange for donated games, which will be burned. The group, a coalition of local organisations, says its actions do not assert that video games were the cause of the killings in nearby Newtown, but argues that violent games and films desensitize children to ‘acts of violence.’
The video game amnesty will take place on 12 January in Southington, a 30-minute drive east from Newtown. The town of Southington has provided a dumpster, organisers said, where violent video games, CDs or DVDs will be collected. [Emphasis added]
How appropriate: Answer an act of violence with an act of violence! It may not have occurred to Southington SOS, but they could really put an end to violence in their community by taking their modest proposal one step further and torching the entire town.
But credit where credit is due: The organizers are willing to borrow a page out Hitler’s SS handbook and settle for a good old-fashioned book burning. A statement from the group reads:
As people arrive in their cars to turn in their games of violence, they will be offered a gift certificate donated by a member of the Greater Southington Chamber of Commerce as a token of appreciation for their action of responsible citizenship.
Violent games turned in will be destroyed and placed in the town dumpster for appropriate permanent disposal.
So there you are. The act is purely voluntary. As a bonus, those who add fuel to the bonfire receive something in exchange for their cleansing efforts. In Nazi Germany, no premium was given to those who aided in the destruction of “Jewish intellectualism.”
In their press release, the organizers bend over backward to emphasize that their actions should not be “construed as statement declaring that violent video games were the cause of the shocking violence in Newtown on December 14.” But in the same breath, they then assert:
Rather, Southington SOS is saying is that there is ample evidence that violent video games, along with violent media of all kinds, including TV and movies portraying story after story showing a continuous stream of violence and killing, has contributed to increasing aggressiveness, fear, anxiety and is desensitizing our children to acts of violence including bullying.
Social and political commentators, as well as elected officials including the president, are attributing violent crime to many factors including inadequate gun control laws, a culture of violence and a recreational culture of violence.
Yet, The Guardian article cites a study conducted by researchers Texas A&M last year that found that exposure to violent games “had neither short-term nor long-term predictive influences on either positive or negative outcomes.” Christopher J. Ferguson, one of the study’s authors, wrote “there is no good evidence that video games or other media contributes, even in a small way, to mass homicides or any other violence among youth.” Ferguson penned those words in TIME magazine. Maybe Southington SOS could get ahold of all available copies of that issue and add them as kindling.
Howard Portnoy has written for HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.
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