Burn the witch! Burn the witch! And other such draconian sentiments were howled by an angry organised mob from a small community about 30 miles from the site of the Newtown massacre recently, when they decided to organize a voluntary video game return program to collect violent video games from families so that they can light them up on a cleansing pyre, unveiled for the works of the devil that they actually are.
Okay, that’s not all strictly true, but as The Violent Video Games Return Program has been set up by Connecticut town Southington and offers gift certificates in exchange for violent games, music and movies turned in during an event later this month with the collected items to be broken and incinerated by town employees.
The event is being put together by Southington SOS, a collective of representatives of Southington, CT community organizations that includes the Chamber of Commerce, YMCA, board of education, fire department, town officials, United Way and local clergy, a group formed in the aftermath of 2005′s Hurricane Katrina as a way for the community to quickly organize help in the wake of national and local tragedies.
Following the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting that left 28 dead, 20 of them children, the above panel have set to work deciding whats best for everyone else, not by thinking in terms of gun control, but instead pointing the finger at the ever helpful, ever viable alternative scapegoat that is the gaming, music and entertainment industries. Because people can’t just be crazy anymore, heck no! They must have been externally motivated by violence in video games (\sarcasm).
Excuse me while I sigh heavily into my sleeve at the utter ignorance of it all!
But wait, there’s more. According to Polygon who spoke with group figurehead Southington School superintendent Joe Erardi:
“The group’s action is not intended to be construed as statement declaring that violent video games were the cause of the shocking violence in Newtown on December 14th,” according to a statement from the organization.
“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.”
The event is being spearheaded by Erardi, who claims to have been flooded with emails from concerned parents asking what could be done to help both the nearby Newtown community and their own.
“What happened in our community, very similar to communities across the world, is everyone wanted to do something for Newtown,” he said. The SOS “convened and we looked at how do we continue to pray and support Newtown and how do we do something perhaps meaningful for Newtown and our own community.”
Erardi, the father of two children, now adults conceded he believed he lacked the expertise to discuss whether violent video games played a role in the shooting, saying:
“I don’t have the expertise to share an opinion on that,” he said. “There is never anything wrong with parents having a courageous conversation with their children. And when you’re stepping into the domain of your child, it’s always a courageous conversation.”
Now, I’m loathe to undermine any form of tragedy, or the subsequent reactionaries too harshly, so I’ll simply say this: casting the blame on video games is the sort of backwards, superstitious thinking that creates problems, not fixes them. Forcing any form of art into a taboo, unregulated subculture makes it more difficult to control, not less, and accentuates an issue of violence that didn’t formerly exist by further fetishising the subject matter.
To say the actions of an extreme few are the result of a medium enjoyed by millions is very small thinking. Especially when gun death in the U.S. is statistically most likely to occur by people who own guns.
For the record, my thoughts are that regardless of their morally righteous aims, Southington SOS are looking in the wrong direction.
Tags: southington sos, video games