Intelligent Discontent

Joe Lieberman: Video Game Warrior

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Joe Lieberman is a much more moral man than I am. He, unlike me, is concerned about violence and its terrifying impact on children. Does this concern manifest itself in policy proposals to alleviate the poverty in inner cities that leads to horrific violence against American children? Not so much. How about supporting a withdrawal from the Iraq War, a conflict that is costing the lives of hundreds of Iraqis–children included–every week? Nope.

Instead, the brave Senator is attacking the most pressing cause of violence: video games. Along with the National Institute on Media and the Family, Senator Lieberman is grandstanding today on the issue of video game violence:

“These games are brutal, primitive,” Sen. Joe Lieberman , D-Conn., said Wednesday.

“Pay attention to the games your kids, our kids, are playing,” said Lieberman, who joined institute officials at a news conference. “It‘s really time to focus on the parents and urge parents to pay attention.”

I’m exhausted by the repeated claims of the paternalistic left and moralistic right (both of which are embodied by the good Senator) that media is to blame for American violence. The internal logic is absurd: given claims of hundreds of thousands of exposures to media violence by each child, I’ve never understood why every American child hasn’t attacked a school or killed a classmate. It’s a simplistic, knee-jerk response that’s no different than parents blaming rock and roll for sex in the 1950s

More importantly, though, non-controversial attacks on violent images in the media are just cover. Instead of root causes: violence, racism, structural inequity, we’re fooled by showy condemnations of Grand Theft Auto, instead of thoughtfully examining the social conditions that lead to violence.

Maybe it’s time for someone to develop a new video game: one in which the protagonist makes a real difference instead of deceiving us with nonsense.

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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a sixteen year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers.

He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate. The best way to get a sense of who he is might be best found by what he is reading.

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