No doubt readers of Reaxxion are aware of the awful tragedy that took place in Charleston, South Carolina a few days ago. On Friday, June 19th, a young man named Dylann Roof walked into the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston and shot and killed 9 people as they sat in a Bible study class. It was an atrocity, pure and simple: it is not possible for a rational man to describe the act of shooting people who sit in a house of the Lord in reverence and contemplation of the Word as anything else.
The response from the Left in this country has, unsurprisingly, focused on the symbolism of a white man walking into a black church in the South and shooting people; inevitably, they have hysterically seized upon the incident as proof positive of ubiquitous white racism, showing that the South can never fully atone for its cardinal sin of seceding from the North in 1861 in order to preserve its slave-based way of life.
The truth is, of course, rather more complicated than this. Of course, the opportunists on the Left will ignore this and use this tragedy as an excuse to further damage and destroy one of the qualities that I most admire about this country’s people: their ardent defence of their inalienable and God-given right—and duty—to keep and bear arms.
Jackass Obama and his odious allies on the Left have already tried to use past mass slayings as an excuse to ram further controls on free citizens through ersatz laws and absurd regulations. They are trying yet again to use this latest episode to do the same, ignoring, per usual, the evidence from the last thirty years staring us in the face pointing to the fact that more guns and concealed carry licenses, not less, make society safer, and that mass murderers intentionally target “gun-free zones” because, of course, they make easy targets.
As the International Lord of Hate has pointed out, these zones simply don’t work to deter mass murderers, and they never will. One does not stop the beast at the door from entering by simply leaving the door unbarred.
This sort of perfidy is to be expected from the social justice set. It is how they operate, how they think. Incapable of rational thought and logical deduction, they are reduced to knee-jerk emotional reactions and elevate rhetoric over dialectic in order to make their points. They are very very good at doing this; unsurprising, given the vast amount of practice they have had in telling lies and forcing the rest of us to believe them.
But in this particular instance, they are receiving help from a most unlikely source: the religious right.
Aiming At The Wrong Target
Rev. Franklin Graham—son of famed evangelist Rev. Billy Graham—expressed these sentiments via his personal, publicly available Facebook page on Saturday, June 20th. As you can see, his post received considerable support.
I do not doubt Rev. Graham’s motives in making this statement. I merely question his understanding of the facts.
On the surface, video games make an easy target to blame for the violent acts of angry young men. After all, what do first-person shooter games do other than provide an opportunity for such men to vicariously live out their dreams of blowing away their enemies quickly, violently, and easily? Scientific investigation into the subject has revealed that, when exposed to violent material in video games, movies, and television, the aggression and emotion centres of the brain show significant spikes in activity… and the centres related to self-control, attention, and conflict-avoidance show a corresponding decrease in activity.
The problem with the theory linking video game violence to actual violence among young men is that it is complete bunk.
My colleague Lysander Nonnesuch wrote a short piece detailing the major fallacy behind the chain of reasoning that leads the religious right to argue that video games lead to increased violent urges among young men. Namely, it is a post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy: just because mass murderers like Dylan Kelbold and Sam Harris, of Columbine infamy, played what was then the apex of ultra-violent video games, Doom, to excess, violent FPS games have ever since been tarred with that same brush.
In reality, as Lysander pointed out, violent gun-related crime has been declining rapidly since 1996. While I have my reasons to believe that this decline is strictly temporary, the facts are what they are. Moreover, FPS games have, if anything, been getting more violent over the last 20 years: compared to games like Gears of War, in which the player can literally cut his enemies to pieces using a chainsaw bayonet, Doom appears to be almost quaintly old-fashioned in its violence by today’s standards.
Confusing Cause And Effect
Moreover, when closely examined, the theory that violence in video games causes violence in society falls completely flat on its foolish face. As pointed out by Jonathan Gottschall in his excellent book, The Professor in the Cage, the theory that fake violence portrayed vicariously on a television screen somehow leads to real violence in the flesh-and-blood world is not supported by the evidence.
In 2010, a pretty comprehensive study was published by two researchers at Texas A&M University investigating the question of whether violent video games did, in fact, lead to increased aggression and violence in those who played them. The hypothesis that they do has been around in various forms since at least the 1960s; the argument goes that aggression is a biological drive in human males which needs a vicarious outlet lest it boil over into real and deadly forms. The hypothesis is elegant, easily understood, intuitive—how else does one explain the strange American fascination with that bizarre cross between peak human athleticism and vehicular homicide that Yankees call “football”?—and easy to explain.
It is also completely wrong.
The evidence simply does not support the theory that violent video games bring out violent tendencies in young men. There is also little reason, at present, to believe that Dylann Roof was really and truly influenced by violent video games when he carried out his crime.
If we look carefully at the issue, we see what the religious right apparently cannot: violent video games are not themselves a cause of violence in real life.
Shooting At The Wrong Target
When we strip away the rhetoric and look at the religious right’s view of video games as honestly as possible, we see that our deeply religious Christian—I should more accurately say Churchian—friends are in danger of making the exact same mistake as our opponents among the social justice types. They assume that young men cannot understand the difference between fantasy and reality.
Because of this, they make the classic mistake that SJWs always make; they presume to think that, simply by using the raw, naked force of the government to regulate away that which appears to be unpleasant, they can somehow perfect Mankind. In doing so, they ignore their own teachings. The Bible repeatedly and conclusively states that Man is flawed and fallible, and that attempts to perfect Mankind will always be doomed to fail.
Instead of attempting to argue in favour of using the power of the state to regulate the video game market—in clear violation of the very doctrine of the two swords that those like the Revs. Graham profess to believe in and support, the very doctrine that has been a core tenet of Christian thought for the last eight hundred years—the religious right should revert to leading and teaching by example, to show young men that there is a better path in life than to spend excessive amounts of time locked away in fantasy worlds at the cost of nourishing their bodies and their spirits.
I completely agree with those like Rev. Graham who argue that young men should not spend their entire lives locked away playing violent video games. There is more to the world than blowing away countless enemies on-screen and executing them in the bloodiest fashion possible. Don’t get me wrong, such things are immensely good fun, but eventually even the most hardened mind is numbed by the endless brutality seen on-screen.
It is at that point that the religious right has something powerful, uplifting, and wonderful to offer young men: the spirit and philosophy of the Cross, of Christ, and of redemption for Mankind. I simply ask that they not cheapen that amazing gift by attempting to use the blunt and clumsy force of government to regulate away that which they do not like.
With all due respect, Rev. Graham: keep your hands off our video games.