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.
VIDEO LINK: Rev. Jesse Jackson Testifies