Dueling Editorials: Paul Boxer v. Craig Ferguson on Media Violence and Violent Crime

Three editorials offer just about every side of the New Jersey Governor's push to study and then regulate the sale of violent video games in the State. The first two are two different sides from a special dueling editorial in The Star-Ledger called "Do violent video games breed violent behavior?". The first one, "Do violent video games breed violent behavior? Yes " was written by Paul Boxer of Rutgers-Newark. He believes there is ample evidence that video games cause aggression and that Governor Christie has made the right call in pushing for legislation and further study on the effects of violent media.

In the lede to both articles it says:

"Adam Lanza who gunned down 26 children and educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December, regularly played "Call of Duty," a video game that simulates wartime violence. That revelation reignited the debate over violent video games and their effect on behavior."

Obviously he believes that violent video games spurred the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter to kill. You should go read the article and judge it on its own merit, but it should be noted that the games recovered from Adam Lanza's home did NOT include any Call of Duty games, so the article start out with a falsehood right out of the gate (there were several Elder Scroll games found at the home, though).

The second editorial, "Do violent video games breed violent behavior? No," was written by Craig Ferguson of Texas A&M International University, who has conducted his own research over the years on violent video games. Ferguson points out that laws like what Christie is pushing for are common when people are in the moment of a moral panic. And while we have heard a thousand times that similar mediums have suffered the same kind of vilification over the years, that fact bears repeating.

"As we respond emotionally to the tragedy of the Sandy Hook school shooting, it is normal to look for any explanation, no matter how spurious. History teaches us that moral panics about media ultimately look ridiculous, but that is hard to observe in the moment."

Finally an interesting editorial over at the Philly Post by Matt Perez notes that the one thing Governor Christie says that is right about video games is that – as a parent – he doesn't let his kids play violent video games. The author agrees and then details his own turmoil as a child facing off a against a mom who actually took the time to learn about the ESRB and not allow him to play games she didn't approve of.

"While I’ll reserve judgment on the latter statement, Governor Christie has the right idea with the former: If, as a parent, you don’t want your kids exposed to violent video games, then simply don’t allow them in your house."

All three editorials are good because they attempt to adress the issue of violence and the affect of media in different ways.

Eidtor's note: We have Elder Scrolls on the brain. Those games were not found at Adam Lanza's residence. Here is a full list of items taken from his home by police.


Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditEmail this to someone

Comments are closed.