Rev. Jesse Jackson Downplays Influence of Violent Media in Testimony to Parliament

The Rev. Jesse Jackson downplayed the influence of violent media yesterday in testimony before the British Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee. The committee, which has been investigating knife crime, is chaired by longtime video game critic Keith Vaz.

While Jackson said that violent video games, music and movies could have some influence on behavior, he placed far greater emphasis on poverty, drugs, domestic violence and inequality as factors which lead to increased violence.

For the benefit of our readers, GamePolitics has transcribed the portions of Jackson’s testimony which relate to media violence issues:

Labour MP Martin Salter: Rev. Jackson, we’ve been taking evidence on the effects or the increasing effect of violent media images on young people, whether it’s in video games, whether it’s on TV, whether it’s the cinema. It seems the evidence were hearing, that there’s a general danger that young people can be desensitized to the concept of violence by the images that they see, but there’s a greater predisposition to violence if those young people are brought up in families and households and communities where actual violence is the norm. Do you have any lessons from America for us on this issue?

Rev. Jesse Jackson: For a long time we challenged music artists and movie makers to be sensitive to the impact that their music and their movies have on children and they have some force… But those who grow drugs in Afghanistan and poppy seeds – they don’t listen to music. This thing is not about music and movies. It’s about a form of economy… we’ve lost more lives from [the drug] war than the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. And we seem to see it as something marginal but it is in the center of our security and it’s getting worse in my judgment… the structural crisis of poverty and drugs and guns is more real than just movies and music.

Labour MP Keith Vaz: Do you accept that there is a link between violent video games and violence that is perpetrated by individuals? Do you think that those images do have an effect on young people?

Rev. Jesse Jackson: There may be some link of imitation. The question, Mr. Chairman, is art imitating life? Is life reflecting art?  There’s always a big debate there. What we do know in these troubled times… there’s increased domestic violence in the home. [Children are] more likely to imitate parents fighting physically. Domestic violence is maybe even a bigger factor on violent behavior than the movies and the worst games that are played. So, yes, we urge artists to not use their considerable skills to desensitize people to violence. Sure, these games that think that killing is a game must be challenged. But the economic impact of life options determines whether one is headed up towards university or down toward prison.

Rev. Jesse Jackson Testifies

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  1. Chuck Deluxe says:

    I believe Jesse Jackson is saying that there should be far less blame on music whether its rock music, hip hop music, or any other genre. Its refreshing to see someone focusing on real issues and causes rather than pointing fingers at entertainment.


    -Chuck Deluxe Hip Hop Videos

  2. Bigman-K says:

    Nice to see Jesse Jackson talking some sense once in awhile.


    "No law means no law" – Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black on the First Amendment

  3. Biochemnuclrad says:

    actually they use to be the most advanced and much more civilised during the middle ages…

  4. MasterAssassin says:

    I’m no fan of Jesse, not at all. In fact I think he’s a slimey, extortionist and an exploiter of his community. However I do agree with him here. People don’t kill because they played GTAIV or Left 4 Dead because they thought it would be "cool" to do that in real life. Poverty, drugs, abuse, negligent parents, incopetence, corruption, and a lack of oppruntunities is what leads to violent crime.

  5. Shoehorn Oplenty says:

    One thing that shoots a massive hole in the "desensitizing kids to violence makes them killers!" theory is the fact that violence in video games only desensitizes you to violence…in video games!

    Who here has played Resident Evil 5? Try and remember how you reacted when you pulled off your first crit headshot and the guys head explodes. I winced a little and said "whoah". Ten headshots later, I was pretty indifferent to the sight of this animation. The same with any of the sudden death gory animations, after a few viewings they don’t bother you as much, or at all. However, if I was in the street and I saw a REAL person get shot in the head, I can’t imagine how horrified and scared I would be.

  6. Duffy says:

    This brought me to an interesting question, what exactly is wrong with the concept of desensitiving violence? Do they really mean desensitiving death? Arguably violence and death are a part of nature, and despite out best efforts the world will never be a perfect place. Just because we are "desensitized" to violence and death does not mean we cannot place a value upon life and peace. It just means we recongnize it as a possible and sometimes needed course of action.

    Philosophically, we should be prepared for violence and death, but strive to avoid it when unnecessary. But if that time comes, should we not be able to execute the needed actions from a stable emotional state instead of heavily emotional one? Should we be paralyzed by our sensitivity or let our just actions cripple us mentally and emotionally? No. Should our fury manifest through violence and death without a guided purpose? No. Balance is required, and very rarely do you hear that argument in the mainstream media; rarely do you see it as a rallying viewpoint.

    I think the entire argument about violence sensitivity is side stepping the real issue of human empathy, personal responsibility, and the masses lack of philosophical understanding(or caring) of human civilization.

  7. Ouroboros says:

    Wow… Rev. Jackson was the voice of reason, moderation, and level-headedness. This is surely one of the signs of the Apocalypse.

  8. bracomadar says:

    He makes some good points about violent crime largely coming from poverty and how damaging the war on drugs really is.  However; it would be very hard to say Jackson is a friend of gamers, or anyone who appreciates the Freedom of Speech.  I’m glad he downplayed them, but I think it was more to bring attention to other issues instead of sticking up for video games. 

    PSN: bracomadar

  9. gamadaya says:

    +10 respect for mister Jackson. He is now at -505 respect. If he keeps this up for another 10 years, I might actually start to not hate him 🙂


    Believe in something! Even if it’s wrong, believe in it! -Glenn Beck

  10. beemoh says:

    Those are some incredibly leading questions from Vaz.

    KV: So we think it’s videogames that make people kill people. You?

    RJJ: Well, not really- it’s more complicated than that. Significantly, in fact.

    KV: So it’s the games, then?

    RJJ: …I just said it was more complicated than that. 

    …is Vaz actually listening to the people he’s talking to, or just trying to push an agenda? SPOILERS: It’s the latter.



  11. TBoneTony says:

    There has also been violence in the Middle East for something like…oh 2,000 years!!!!

    Long before Violent Videogames and Movies.

    But as if anyone with any value would ever listen to someone who likes to enjoy playing videogames in the first place.

    Believe me, there will always be those like Vass who go on and on about Videogames and Movies as if he is somewhat addicted to blaming them for society’s ills.


  12. olstar18 says:

    I use to think he was just an attention loving pompous loudmouth and while I still think he loves the attention and is a pompous loudmouth he is at least one deserving some amount of respect.

  13. Bennett Beeny says:

    Yeah.  Nice to see one politician who knows where the problem really lies, and doesn’t cater to the fearmongering of the likes of Vaz and Thompson.

  14. Gift says:

    What would be the point in overthrowing our monarch though? They’re a figurehead effectively excluded from the political process, in reality the Prime Minister holds the power.

    Same goes for the House of Lords really, except making them elected might be consitutionally tricky. Electing the Lords would politicise that house and threaten the supremacy of the Commons; then we’d have a US system. Indeed, the drawback would be that the second house might actively, and legitimately, work against the interests of the first house should an opposing party hold sway (or worse rubber stamp the first house if the same party dominated both).

    There is a reason successive governments shy away from "reforming the Lords", many may cheerlead for ‘democratic reform’ but cooler minds realise it may have the opposite effect.

    As I’ve alluded to before nothing is perfect, not even the democracy originally practiced by Greek city states… read a bit of Plato if you’d like to know why. Our elected oligarchies are a compromise down to their core, whether they come with a figurehead-head of state or a directly elected one.


  15. mr_mlk says:

    > you can’t be a democracy, and remain a monarchy.

    I’d agree with the former I don’t with the latter. Even if the Lords were democraticly elected we would still be a monarchy. We would have to overthrow the monarch to not be on of them.

    A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body. Benjamin Franklin

  16. Gift says:

    Well like I say, if we’re not a democracy, feel free correct the wiki then. I’m sure you can cite the status of the House of Lords as evidence…

    (Edit: they are Lords btw not MPs. MPs sit in the house of commons and form the dominant house, as befits an elected chamber.)


  17. Austin_Lewis says:

    Exactly.  As long as you have people in the house of lords who are Lords Spiritual or Temporal, you can’t be a democracy, and remain a monarchy.  While you may vote for your PM’s and most MP’s, you don’t have a say in the seating of 92 MP’s currently, or about equivalent to our Senate.

  18. Gift says:

    No one has a perfect democracy, certainly not the UK.

    And I see where the problem arises now.

    Parliament = all parties in the UK system like Congress in the US system. Opposition politicians are called MPs (members of parliament) the same as Government MPs. Thus government is a subset of parliament, in the UK system.


  19. Gift says:

    Of course you’re right, better edit the wiki though.

    "The Westminster system is a democratic parliamentary system of government" is clearly wrong.

    Better write and tell the select committiees to get rid of the opposition MPs that sit on them too, come to that, better tell parliament to boot the opposition out while they are about it.

    You know, got to get rid of that whiff of democracy and all. 😀

    I expect the judge will tell you the best way to crack down on us oppressed masses LOL


  20. Austin_Lewis says:

    Actually, that’s from a discussion I had with a British Judge in his conference room last May.  Great guy, I vastly enjoyed his company and the fact that he didn’t mind me drinking at lunch like some of my American colleagues did.  I’m sure you know better than a judge though.  Oh, also, Wikipedia seems to agree with me.

    I don’t know if you even know what a democracy actually is, when it all comes down to it.

  21. Austin_Lewis says:

    Actually, it’s fairly common for governments to grill themselves. 

    Oh, by the way, you’re not a democracy, you’re a CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY!  OH MY GOD, YOU HAVE NO CLUE HOW YOUR GOVERNMENT WORKS!

  22. Gift says:

    Parliament != to the Government.

    Select committees are cross-party investigative bodies i.e. they are made up of opposition party MPs and backbenchers. In fact, ministers (that’s members of the government) may be called to give evidence to said committee. For example.

    Kind of odd for the government to publicly grill itself wth awkward questions no?

    I think you’ll find I know the way my democracy works better than you do.


  23. Austin_Lewis says:

    "The Rev. Jesse Jackson downplayed the influence of violent media yesterday in testimony before the British Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee. The committee, which has been investigating knife crime, is chaired by longtime video game critic Keith Vaz."

    Really?  so it’s not a committee that’s part of the government?  It’s not the BRITISH PARLIAMENT’S HOME AFFAIRS COMMITTEE?

  24. Gift says:

    Ah yes you’re right, my figures are out of date now (80% was in the early 2000’s).

    Anyhoo, buying the opium for medical purposes has been mooted, and may even be underway. I seem to recall hearing something to this affect last year, after the original proposal was rejected


  25. State says:

    Actually Afghanistan produces around about 97% of the world’s herion. Like you said soldiers can’t destroy the fields for fear of backlash (although the drug trade funds the Taliban).

    The UK has an opium shortage (we are now considering growing our own) and as it is used extensively in the medical industry this is a problem. Perhaps we could buy the opium ourselves for legitimate use?

  26. Shadow D. Darkman says:

    They’re space stations. Aim for the tractor beam cannon!


  27. JDKJ says:

    Jesse needs to take the marbles out his mouth when he’s talking. I can’t never understand a word he says.

  28. Bennett Beeny says:

    Of course Afghanistan is not a desert!  They farm sheep there, they grow crops there.  You can’t farm sheep or grow crops unless there are large areas of fertile land.  If it were just a vast desert, no one would live there.

  29. Gift says:

    I guess this does illustrate the Rev.s point, not only is there more than sand in Afghanistan, there’s enough poppy grown to account for ~80% of the world’s heroin.

    Moreover, given that poppy growing accounts for most farmers livelyhoods, western forces can’t roam round torching fields of the stuff without provoking a massive backlash. If we want to ‘win’ in Afghanistan we’ve got to ween the local economy off of poppy growth.

    TBH I don’t know why we didn’t act earlier, even before Afghanistan was a terrorist training camp it was a threat to western society because of it’s drug production… Something to bear in mind if we screw up, humiliation will likely be the least of our problems.


  30. Austin_Lewis says:

    Afghanistan has long been known to traffic opium.  Like the guy above me said, it’s quite mountainous, and there are parts that are fertile enough for growing poppies.

  31. Deamian says:

    "But those who grow drugs in Afghanistan and poppy seeds[…]"

    An unware innoncent question; What… can they possible grow in the sand? Under that baking sun? And with the canadian forces (And others?) roaming the country, do they actually have a stable enough place somewhere to grow/produce something indoor safely?

    That aside, I’m pretty surprised to see a typically-conservative-supporting person proving politicians wrong about video-games. Go Rev!

  32. Shadow D. Darkman says:

    I remember him being shown in MAD’s fake circus poster based on the Terri Schiavo(sp?) case. It said his "act" was that he "rides around from ring to ring on his high horse" which confused me a bit.


  33. HarmlessBunny says:

    Now…ummm normally I am at huge disagreements with Rev. Jackson. He, to me, comes across as a political opportunist and a thug most of the time. This time he comes across as educated and knowledgeable. His answer to Keith Vaz I believe was very well spoken. Interesting….

    I’ll give Rev. Jackson kudos on this one. Hopefully in the future he will continue being a bit more well spoken and less of….well what he used to do.

  34. Gift says:

    FYI, it’s a select committee, not really the government. Besides Vas is the chair, and I suspect he’s friendly with Rev. Jackson (I heard Vas name checked by him on the Radio the other day).


  35. Austin_Lewis says:

    Right, because Jesse Jackson is really fit to talk about the influence of violent media on anything.  The man is nothing but a scam artist, inciting rage and dischord for his own personal profits, and I’m insulted that the UK government would take his opinion seriously, whether its correct or not. I cannot abide by that man who has made his money in a manner very much like Jack Thompson; exploiting the suffering of others for his personal gain.

  36. Kajex says:

    Oh, no doubt. But this comes down to a situation akin to a history teacher teaching history, and a bad math teacher having the correct history facts- even if he’s a bad math teacher, he still may have a point, regardless of if there’s somebody else considered more credible than he is with more experience in the required field.

    So yeah, it’s hard to take him seriously with some of the things he’s done, but it isn’t about agreeing with him- its about agreeing on a stance that you might share with him.

  37. Mattsworkname says:

    It’s hard for me to agree with people like sharpton and Jackson, as I view them, in no uncertain terms, as part of the reason racisim still exsists. If not for the self serving agenda following actions of men like Jackson and sharpton, much of the racial problems that have come up over the lst 15 years might have been lessened or even avoided since they would not have caused the media to put such focus on someone like Jackson.

    Regardless of what he says now, He’s done to much to undermine any credibility he ever had. No matter his cause or how just it might be, he’s long since destroyed himself in my eyes.

    But, he’s still better then sharpton.



    Yukimura is still here. "Well done Yukimura. You are japans greatest hero. Now, the chaos ends." Spoken by Tokugawa Ieyasu to Yukimura sanada just moments before Yukimuras death in Samurai warriors 1.

  38. Kajex says:

    I’m not all that happy with some of the things that the Reverend does, or has done or said- regardless, that doesn’t mean I won’t or can’t agree on his stance in this case. Too often people look for a single answer to a problem- life as a whole doesn’t work that way. It’s a series of variables both within and without a person’s reach, and in this case, the listed variables are among those that do influence the issue at hand.

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