Republican Congressman, Brian Mast, from the 18th district in Florida, and Republican Governor of Kentucky, Matt Bevin, have both stepped forward to condemn video games, movies, and the pharmaceutical industry as being part of the root cause for the mass shooting that took place at the Parkland high school in Florida.
Dexerto is reporting that Congressman Brian Mast took to the terrestrial airwaves of NPR to deride the glorification of violence in video games and movies, saying…
“When you look at Call of Duty, when you look at movies like John Wick, the societal impacts of people being desensitized to killing in ways different than how somebody on the battlefield was desensitized is troubling”
Mast makes the comparison to real life battlefield combat due to having served in the U.S. Army.
However, a recent study by German researchers even pointed out that Brian Mast’s assertion that video games causes desensitization may not be entirely accurate, as the research could not conclude that video games causes desensitization.
Speaking with the Cincinnati Enquirer, Governor Matt Bevin also echoed similar sentiments to Mast, claiming that 100 years ago kids could go to school with guns and there were no mass shootings, and violence among youth was not as bad as it is today and that there needs to be a discussion about America’s culture where young people are killing young people.
Bevin states that the “evidence” for video games being a large contributor to today’s youth violence is in the fact that mass school shootings didn’t happen 100 years ago, and that the diminishing role of church in the moral fiber of home economics and domestic growth has contributed to the violent degeneracy of today’s youth.
According to Bevin, he states…
“[…] The reality is that it’s not a gun problem. It’s not [about] having too many guns. There used to be more guns per person than there are now, but children did not go to school to kill other children.
“[…] It’s not a gun problem.”
“It is a cultural problem. We have a culture that is desensitized to death, that is desensitized to the value of life. And we celebrate death through our musical lyrics, we celebrate death through our video games that literally reward you with extra points for going back and finishing people off. It is horrific and it is graphically increasingly realistic. The television shows that are even on prime time [and] movies…
“These are things that have long existed, but the degree of specificity, the graphic nature of them, the encouraging of people to participate in video games – and then the believe that none of this is connected to what we’re seeing? Give me a break.”
The Truth About Youth Crime Statistics In America
What’s interesting is that as video game saturation has risen, youth crimes are actually down by double digit percentages compared to the 1980’s and 1990’s. In fact, According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, there were only 856,130 arrests of youths between 10 and 17 years of age, which is actually down by 58% compared to arrests for youths in 2007, just over a decade ago.
The OJJDP also shows decided declines from 1980 to 2016, where youth crimes have drastically declined over the last 30 years.
Violent Crimes And Video Game Sales
Interestingly enough, during an age where video game violence is at its most realistic, youth crimes are at an all time low. In fact, certain places like New York City in recent times have crime rates that haven’t been their lowest since the 1950’s, and have been lowering over the last 27 years, as reported by the New York Times.
Meanwhile video games have broken records in terms of market expanse and revenue, with recent sales trends in 2017 being up by 11% compared to 2016, as reported by Forbes.
There’s no correlative data showing that video games lower real life crime rates, but there’s also no correlative data showing that video games cause kids to become mass murderers. When pressed for a citation regarding the latter point, Bevin defers to the recent school shooting in Florida and Kentucky, saying…
“Go back before any of these [games, movies] existed. How many kids walked into schools and slaughtered other children? How much more evidence do you need? You have 17 more dead children in Florida. We had a couple more dead children a few weeks ago here in Kentucky. How much more evidence do people want? The people who say there’s no evidence are full of crap, frankly.”
Violent Media Has Minimal Effects On Some Individuals
Actually… while there have been some studies showing an increase in aggression while playing some video games, in a study published on November 24th, 2016 in the Psychiatric Times by Dr. Christopher Ferguson, the report states that evidence supporting effects of violent media on individuals who consume the content may be minimal. The gist of the report was that…
“Neither the selection of media, nor outcome behaviors are driven primarily by media content but rather by a user’s goals and motivations. […]
“Thus, a violent video game might increase frustration in one player who does not enjoy the game, but legitimately relax another after a stressful day. And a non-violent video game could do the same. Indeed, this notion that the “fit” between media and individuals in pursuit of motivational goals is more important than objectionable conforms to more recent research.”
A Discussion About Video Game Censorship
Nevertheless, Bevin feels that the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights should never be touched, but does feel that today’s media content is taking the First Amendment to a territory with “zero redemptive value”, and stops just short of calling for censorship of video games and media, saying…
“Let’s start an honest conversation about what is and is not appropriate to be infusing into our young people.
“And I’m a big believer in the Constitution and the First Amendment and the right to free speech. But there certain things that are so graphic as it relates to violence and things that are so pornographic, as well, on a whole other front, that we allow it a pass under the guise of free speech, which [they] arguably are. But they is zero redemptive value. There is zero upside to any of this being in the public domain, let alone in the minds, and hands, and homes of our young people.
“We need an honest conversation about what even should be allowed in the United States as it relates to some of the things being put in the hands of our young people.”
As some users pointed out in the comment section of the Dexerto article, Japan has access to plenty of violent media and sexual material, and also produce plenty of it for export into nations like the U.S., but their murder rates have actually slowly declined over the last year to only 10,887, and their theft rate has dropped significantly, according to the Japan Times. According to the Nation Master, they have 1.02 murders per every 100,000 people compared to 5 murders per every 100,000 people in the U.S.
Even still, in a separate video the Governor of Kentucky calls on video game makers and record producers to step up and be adults about talking about school shootings.
Governor Bevin states…
“Let’s start a dialogue. How exactly it forms, I don’t know. But I’m calling on other Governors, I’m calling on the President of the United States, I’m calling on our U.S., Congress; I’m calling on anyone in a position of influence. Every superintendent, every CEO of every media company that produces a video game that is violent in its nature, the movie producers who make the movies, the record producers who produce the music that we listen to – all of you, we’ve got to step up. We’re the adults, let’s act like it.”
Unfortunately, you are not able to offer Govenor Bevin feedback or citations since he disabled the comment sections on his videos to avoid abuse. However, many people still made it known that they disagreed with his assessment by downvoting his videos.
Alternatively, you can leave a comment on a re-uploaded version of the video over on Censored Gaming.