Not long ago, Congress was preaching from their pulpit on the evils of song lyrics that glorified violence and other dark themes. Violence onscreen, be it big or small, is also apparently responsible for all the world’s ills. Or was, rather. Now? It’s time for video games to take their full turn in the spotlight of demonization. Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), big proponents of the useless-blowhard school of government, have announced that they intend to put forth legislation that will ban the sale of mature titles to minors.
This is really getting old. First of all, such legislation would have little to no actual power or impact on anything that exists outside of Congress — in, y’know, the practical world. Look at the restrictions on movies and music. Does it mean it’s a bad idea to prevent the sale of mature material of any type to children? Not necessarily, but I’ll dig into that in a moment. What it does mean is that, at the end of the day, the kid at the cash register is tired and cranky and is thinking about a math test or their favorite band, and really doesn’t give a shit who’s buying what, when, or where, because they’re underpaid and unconcerned.
Legislation like this cannot possibly be fully enforced, and it’s ridiculous to think that it can. And aren’t we bleeding enough money as it is? Instead of passing a law that will require new people to undertake new tasks for the government to do something utterly useless, why don’t we — and I know, this is really radical — try educating parents on dealing with their children, and then trust them to do so?
Is it a bad idea to prevent the sale of this material to minors? In theory, no. In practice, it’s impractical and it’s treating a symptom, not the problem. People kill people because there is something wrong with them. Period. Some kid emulates a scene from a video game and jumps off a building? Maybe his parents should have been paying attention to what he was watching, doing, and interacting with, and explained things like, gee, if you jump off a building, you will splatter over an eight foot radius. I mean, kids don’t wake up one morning and, say, decide to blow away a dozen of their schoolmates because they listened to a depressing album or they played Grand Theft Auto for a couple of days, and they don’t do it because they have a penchant for wearing all black, either. They do it because they feel trapped, ignored, outcast, and they see no way out. They do it because something is wrong with them, something deeper and bigger than most kids experience, and they don’t have an outlet.
I’m no psychoanalyst. I can’t say that there is NO LINK between a penchant for violent media and crime. But I can say this — I’ve worked in retail, and most parents don’t appear to know or care what their teenagers are renting, buying, playing, and watching. They turn them loose in video stores, in malls, and when prodded by clerks who say, ah, your thirteen year old is clutching Manhunt, most parents shrug and mutter that it’s fine — if you can get them off their cell phones long enough to pay attention.
When it comes to troubled kids, the government — at the state and local levels — seems to be locked into a pattern of pointing their collective legislative finger in all the wrong directions, and this time, it’s at video games. So great. Pass the law. Throw money at the problem. Set up a commission.
But where will you turn next, when this doesn’t solve the problem? When is it time to take a step back and try looking at the problem from another angle?
I guess when we run out of sales to legislate.Powered by Sidelines