The sad fact is that government will impose control on us when we do not control ourselves. That is why I want you to limit your child’s exposure to violent movies and video games. That saves your children, your neighbors, and everyone who wants to retain the right of self-defense.
Yeah, that bold claim sounds crazy. It may seem as if I’m denying free speech with one hand and asking for human-rights with the other. I’m not. I’m begging us to stop feeding violence to our children. We need to protect our children so they will grow into responsible and clear thinking adults. I’m asking you to control what your children watch today so they can control their own behavior later. We are talking about morals here, not about laws. We agree that adults have the right to do stupid things, but children are not adults. It is a sad fact that some children will become violent abusers if left to overdose on some computer generated splatter fest. Children are not alone. The media skews everyone’s view of violence.
Adam Lanza is a star example of a person twisted by violent computer images. For weeks at a time Lanza created a private world where his severe Asperger’s behavior wasn’t a handicap. Lanza played a video game called Combat Arms for about five hundred hours. He fought 4,901 combat matches and killed 83,496 characters. 22,725 of his simulated murders were with shots to the head. This virtual training had real consequences. During the fall of 2012, Adam Lanza shot his mother in the head and went on to murder 20 elementary school students and six teachers at Sandy Hill elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. One example does not prove a case. Unfortunately, Lanza is not an isolated case and Combat Arms is not the most violent video game. You can examine the titles and graphics of many computer video programs here at PC Gamer.
I can hear the game players screaming they are not mass murderers, and they’re right. Unless you’re already a borderline sociopath, the issue is not about you and your reaction to violent visual images. The first issue is how amplified and stylized violence affects young people with marginal self-control and marginal attachment to reality. I’m glad if you are not crazy, but the statistics say many of us are affected by what we watch. The second issue is that the entertainment media skews our view of reality even if we’re adults.
Violent video games are designed for children and adolescents. The games grab children’s emotions by offering a sense of control. They become little gods with the power of life and death. They feel competent by mastering progressively more difficult challenges. Murder starts easy, and becomes harder and more violent. Experienced killers gain points, powers and privileges as reward for past violence. The interactive computer video programs offer an escape from the real world and its problems.
Sociologists and childhood development experts traced the surge in adolescent violence back to violent media. There are certainly other contributing factors like broken homes, drug addiction, mental illness and abusive families. Violent media is identified as a major source of the six fold increase in adolescent violence from the mid 1960s to the mid 1990s. The rate has fallen since then as the cocaine epidemic receded.
We know violent images change our behavior. The army and police train with video simulators because they change behavior. The scientific literature about violent media includes thousand of studies over more than 50 years. You can search for reports from the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association. You could also ask your local public school teacher.
If you’ve been around young children then you know they imitate what they see. They imitate before they know good from bad or reality from fantasy. We can see the influence of the media when something as “mild” as mainstream TV changes a child’s perspective. Children prefer the exotic to the mundane. They want to be the superhero rather than the friendly boy next door. They want to be the superhero.. or the super villain. Some children reported that slasher films were terrifying until they imagined themselves as the Freddy Krueger character doing the slashing rather than being slashed. That scares me as a parent.
We have generations of data linking violent images and violent actions. The amount of TV that a child watches at age 8 strongly predicts criminality at age 30. It also predicts violent behavior of the television watcher’s children even if TV is removed. It’s no surprise that violence spans generations. We know that children who grow up in a home with domestic abuse are more inclined to become abusers. Those children learned violence from their family. Evidently they learn it from TV, video games and movies as well.
The issue is larger than some nut becoming a mass murderer. The general public also gets its distorted perception of violence from television and movies. Broadcast TV is thousands of times more violent than reality and that distorts our judgment. We see a hundred thousand violent acts on TV, and almost none of them are justifiable self-defense. That skews the entire debate about violence since the entertainment industry doesn’t argue with words; they show images aimed directly at our hearts. Time after time and week after week they show us that people are violent and guns kill everyone. The media teaches us that our neighbors can’t be trusted, let alone be trusted with a firearm.
We need to counteract that propaganda if we want to retain the right of self-defense in our media-saturated society. I’m suggesting we start with our own children before we try to change the entire culture. We have to defend and guide our children as they grow up. Media violence poisons their thinking and it poisons the broader political debate about responsible self-defense.
We will lose the argument over armed self-defense if we let the entertainment industry define reality. The culture of liberty is about self-control, not government control.
I’ll write about turning off the TV in another post.
Thanks to Clash Daily for posting an earlier version of this article.
Today is December 7th, but my mind is back at Thanksgiving. Both days have a common theme. American’s are awesome when the going gets tough. On the other hand, the news is full of our current government screwing up and making excuses. Even when the politicians and bureaucrats do their best, they can’t know enough to do the right thing in the right place at the right time. Bureaucrats need political permission if and when they finally figure out how to help. This is painfully obvious after each natural disaster. Our communities and our local businesses are more responsive than the federal government with its wasted billions. I’m impressed every time Americans open their hearts.
Natural disasters are a part of life, be they earthquakes, fires, floods, blizzards, tornadoes or hurricanes. The people who live with them know how to recover and clean up the mess. That includes a rural farmer and a suburban housewife, the local policeman and the county fire commander. The local merchants know what to do too. In fact, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has an informal but effective index of disaster severity. It is called the Waffle House index. The southern US has a chain of restaurants that cater to small markets. They are the edge-of-town diner where you’ll see hunters, fishermen and construction crews collected at odd hours like big rigs around a crossroads truck stop. Things have to be pretty bad for the Waffle House to close for more than a few hours.
Think about where you’d go for supplies if a windstorm damaged your home or business. Along with the local police and emergency crews, you’d go to the local diner to get a hot meal. Then you’re off to Walmart, Lowes, Home Depot and your local stores for food and first aid supplies. Most of us have been there and done that.
These companies plan for disasters the same way airlines plan for bad weather. Their facilities have local stockpiles of essential materials. They harden their buildings and equipment when they know a storm is coming. They remove people and equipment from the path of the storm. They pre-position critical materials nearby. They have crews ready to move pre-packaged cargoes of essential items into the damage area as soon as the storm recedes. It happens every time, though the names of the businesses change as you move across the country. You’ll see the local brewing and bottling companies start to produce clean packaged water if things are really bad. You’ll also see large portable generators trucked in to run hospitals and communications equipment.
There is no government plan coordinating this recovery. Instead, ordinary citizens and business owners take care of their businesses, their communities, and their neighbors in need. Some of our neighbors trained as Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT). Most churches, schools and businesses have a disaster plan. They’ve been there before, and they know that people eat more fast food until the power is restored, until their families are safe and until their homes are fully repaired.
The food, water, plastic sheeting… I can’t think of all the things people need right after a disaster, but they do not appear by magic. It is called capitalism. The extraordinary actions of these businesses are almost hidden, but you can see them work at the edge of a disaster. Depending on the season, snow shovels or chain saws appear on the shelves just like frozen turkey appears at the grocery in mid-November.
True, crack teams of emergency personnel move across the country to search for trapped victims or fight fires. They are the highly-trained specialists. I’m amazed by the ordinary guys, the people from the next town, who simply show up and get the job done. I saw them after Hurricane Katrina. They gathered at their local church and headed over to help. The churches near the disaster knew where people could stay if they didn’t have family nearby. God bless them all, the businessmen and the volunteers.
If the disaster is large, then private charity funds will spring up across the country. Have you noticed that Americans give to private charities after a disaster rather than throw a few extra bucks into our monthly taxes?
Politicians will fly in for photographs. FEMA will show up weeks later when the motels are open again. FEMA may or may not issue low cost loans for demolition or reconstruction. FEMA may or may not roll in moldy trailers for temporary housing, if you are lucky enough to qualify. In New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy, those decisions appeared to be political than charitable.
Though some would disagree, I trust my neighbor’s generosity more than a politician’s campaign promise. We Americans are impressive. It isn’t news, but it is everyday awesome and I’m grateful. You are another reason for Thanksgiving.
Thanks to ClashDaily for posting an earlier version of this article.
Rob- Grateful while chewing.
Please consider this before you go on strike for higher pay at your burger job. The there are a lot of people looking for scarce jobs. For example, the Washington DC Wal-Mart had 23000 applicants for 600 openings. You’re more likely to get accepted into Harvard than land a Wal-Mart job in DC. If that confuses you, our elected representatives can’t do the math either.
Would you like fries with that?
Judge Steve Rhodes said some interesting things during his ruling on the Detroit bankruptcy. It will also be interesting to watch the union legislators react. Judge Rhodes said;
- Detroit has been unable to pay its bills for years.
- The city is certainly bankrupt now.
- The city could have and should have filed earlier.
- It was probably impossible to bargain in good faith with the 100 thousand creditors and unions.
- Union pension obligations are a contracted debt and can be addressed in the bankruptcy restructuring like other debts.
- The judge will not stay his decision while the unions appeal his ruling.
Judge Rhodes decision will effect the ongoing San Bernardino and Stockton bankruptcies.
I assume state politicians controlled by the unions will pass legislation trying to limit the scope of the judge’s decision. Blue states are the obvious places to watch for these bills. The pro-debt legislators are only held in check by the institutions that issue bond ratings. The obvious way to pass the debt-suicide bill is to have it go into effect years after it is passed. Blue state voters would sleep through that sort of legislation. Slow acting financial suicide pills are easier to swallow.
On the other hand, maybe President Obama will issue a decree demanding that unions be paid ahead of other creditors.
My earlier comments on Detroit are here.
Rob- off to work.
It dawned on me what it means now that each US Senate gets to impose new rules according to a simple majority in the Senate. Now that Reid went nuclear, it only takes 51 votes to impeach a president or any serving government official since the Senate now makes its own rules. Who will stop them? Think about what that means in thirteen months, January 2015.
Will next November be the dirtiest election ever because so much is at stake? Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “dirty bomb”.
Thinking while decorating the Christmas tree.
My brother came down to visit for Thanksgiving and I’d forgotten how nice it is to visit with family. He and I went shooting yesterday. I’d never tried to shoot trap before. I loved it and want to do it again, but my shoulder was painfully sore last night. Then all of us went out for dinner. My wife drove us home from the restaurant.
Today those two co-conspirators went to the local garden store/plant nursery. They wanted professional advice along with a few seasonal sprays and grass seed. The nursery was giving away the ornamental pumpkins they used for Thanksgiving decorations. Since I’ve been collecting seeds and steaming pumpkin rind, my brother grabbed the free pumpkin.
The number was so large I didn’t believe it at first. An acoustic detections system in Washington DC detected its 39,000th shooting event in the district.. and the system only covers a third of the city. Many “events” have multiple shots fired. Equally amazing, about half the gun shot events are not reported to police. Many of the events identified and recorded by the acoustic detection system are not investigated by police. That says something.
After reading this report on gunshots in DC, I can say with confidence the gun-free zone of Washington DC leaks like hell. The lawful gun owners in DC are not the ones going outside to pop off a few rounds celebrating a good poker night, the Washington Redskins winning a close game, or their latest drug deal. It isn’t the honest gun owners causing crime in DC, but honest gun owners are the target as DC politicians double down on stupid.
Rather than prosecute crime, and I’ll grant you that gunshots in public are a pretty good place to start looking for criminal events, instead the DC City Council demands that each DC resident who went through the painful bureaucratic process of legally registering a gun in DC must return to the police department and get fingerprinted.
Right. The DC city council thinks the real crime problem is all those lawful gun owners sighting in their weapons on city streets and littering the streets with shell casings and fingerprints. If you believe that, then I have this great healthcare insurance you should buy. You can keep your doctor and your rates won’t go up by one dime. Not one dime. Period.
Not one dime? We have the DC government grossly abusing gun owners’ rights with midnight SWAT raids at taxpayer’s expense. The DC city council, like petty bureaucrats everywhere, are imposing their preferences and culture on DC citizens while they pretend it is for public safety. They use the police to punish those who don’t comply. The same thing went on in the south during the era of Jim Crow laws. The same thing goes on in Chicago under the progressive political machine. This cultural intolerance imposed at gunpoint is expensive and puts lives at risk.
Sooner or later an honest gun owner in DC will be shot during a no-knock raid. The costs, either in civil or criminal charges, won’t come out of the pockets of the DC city council. The cost is already too high. Disarmed DC citizens are already paying with their lives.