The violent videogame witch hunt continues

The big push to blame videogames for the Newtown massacre has been bubbling along beneath the far higher-profile effort to push gun control laws.  Now comes an oddly-written story in the New York Daily News which repeatedly asserts that shooter Adam Lanza might have been trying to “replay a scenario” from one of his favorite games… without telling readers which game, or scenario, he was supposedly replaying.  

That’s a rather suspicious detail to omit, isn’t it?  The claim is made several times during the story, and there’s a photo of a scene from “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2” accompanied by a legend which asserts that game is “among one [sic] of the violent video games being associated with gun violence in minors.”  But the reader is given no empirical evidence to evaluate the assertion.

Instead, we get yet another breathless report that Lanza owned “dozens, if not hundreds, of graphically violent video games,” which could be valued at “thousands of dollars.”  In other words, he was just like every other teenage or twentysomething male in modern America.  This is a long and deep stretch of guilt by association, unfortunately aided by Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association coming out against videogames with his rhetorical guns blazing, shortly after the Newtown massacre occurred.  

Anything to avoid asking tough questions about how we deal with actual mental illness problems, or transmit positive values to young people, I suppose.  A witch hunt against videogames keeps the public feeling nice and paranoid, while removing more of the responsibility for child-rearing from harried parents.  Those parents would certainly be well within their rights to deny any minor child access to “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2,” or any other game they find inappropriate… but it’s easier to simply voice vague support for banning, taxing, or regulating the problem away.