Super Podcast Action Committee - Episode 30

November 26, 2012 -

In Episode 30 of the Super Podcast Action Committee hosts Andrew Eisen and E. Zachary Knight discuss the possibility that Grand Theft Auto V will cause controversy when it is released, a lawsuit about a tattoo in a video game, what a stripper thinks about 'the Saints' in the latest Hitman game and a whole lot more. Sorry, no time for complaining about the Wii U this week! Download it now: SuperPAC Episode 30 (1 hour) 56 MB.

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Poll: Will Grand Theft Auto 5 Cause a Controversy?

November 21, 2012 -

Grand Theft Auto.

You might have heard of it.  You might have even seen the new trailer for it.  Readers of GamePolitics know the series as a controversy magnet.  Over the years people have raised a fuss over how inappropriate it is for kids, how violent it is, how sexual it is, its portrayal of cops, women, and minorities and a host of other things that aren't even in the game!

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GTA: Vice City Temporarily Pulled from Steam

November 16, 2012 -

Rockstar Games was forced to pull Grand Theft Auto: Vice City from Steam, according to reports from The Sixth Axis and Cinema Blend.

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Cypress Hill Back-Up Singer Loses Appeal in GTA: San Andreas Lawsuit

November 2, 2012 -

The Hollywood Reporter reports that Michael "Shagg" Washington has failed to convince an appeals court in California that a lower court's ruling on his case against Take-Two Interactive over Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas didn't have merit. The lower court ruled that the case filed by the model and backup singer for the rap group Cypress Hill against Take-Two in 2010 was without merit.

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Take-Two Postpones Q2 Results, Reveals GTA V Release Window

October 30, 2012 -

Today publisher Take-Two announced that it would delay releasing its second quarter earnings report for the fiscal year 2013 and conference call due to the "catastrophic weather conditions in the regions of its corporate headquarters." New York City is currently suffering from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which caused widespread flooding, power outages, and a closure of most means of transportation in and out of town.

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GTA Creators: UK Publicist Created Buzz, Controversy Around Game

October 22, 2012 -

While DMA Design may have created the original game that became a worldwide phenomenon, the creators of the game credit a UK publicist with creating the buzz that helped the game jump onto the international stage. Mike Dailly, co-creator of the original Grand Theft Auto, said that infamous British publicist Max Clifford did a job of manipulating the press to gain GTA notoriety and publicity.

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Poll: Are Any Video Game Topics Taboo?

August 22, 2012 -

Are there any themes or topics that should never be explored in a video game?

Hot Coffee Game Pokes Fun at ‘Hot Coffee’ Mod

May 7, 2012 -

Described by its creator as is kind of a 'sex game' that features no sex," Hot Coffee plays with the phrase synonymous with the infamous secret sexual gameplay hidden in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (thanks Polygon). While there's no actual sex in the game there's enough innuendo in it to turn a modest man or woman beet red.

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David Kushner on His New Book, 'Jacked: The Outlaw story of Grand Theft Auto'

April 17, 2012 -

CNET has an interesting interview with games journalist David Kushner who talks about his latest book, Jacked: The Outlaw story of Grand Theft Auto. The book takes a deeper look at the Grand Theft Auto phenomenon, and delves into related topics such as the game's development, the ESRB, Hot Coffee and Jack Thompson, amongst other topics.

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Dan Houser Buys Truman Capote's Brooklyn Estate

March 21, 2012 -

How fitting, then, that the Rockstar Games co-founder Dan Houser is the proud new owner of the Brooklyn Heights mansion at 70 Willow Street where Truman Capote once laid his weary head after a long night of socializing with New York City's who's who. The house that once belonged to the author of the gritty true crime bestseller In Cold Blood sold for $12.5 million according to city records obtained by The New York Observer. It was also apparently the most expensive real estate purchase in Brooklyn history.

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GTA V Announcement Timed with Thompson’s Three-Year Disbarment Anniversary

October 25, 2011 -

A friend of mine (a developer who will remain nameless) said that the Grand Theft Auto V announcement was oddly timed. I didn't understand what he meant at first until our readers and Twitter began mentioning that today's date coincides with the official start date of former Florida attorney Jack Thompson's disbarment date. On September 25, 2008, the Florida Supreme Court’s disbarment order for Thompson was signed. It went into effect 30 days later, on October 25, 2008.

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Former GTA Director Plans Game Based on Iran's Islamic Revolution

August 11, 2011 -

The former director of the Grand Theft Auto series, Navid Khonsari, is working on a new game that will explore Iran's Islamic Revolution. The game is called 1979 and will be set in an open world where protagonists can make moral choices that affect what is going on around him. Khonsari, who worked on Grand Theft Auto III, Vice City, and San Andreas, spoke to CNN about his plans for the game recently and why it is important to him.

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London Evening Standard Corrects Game Blame Headline, Daily Mail Runs with It

August 9, 2011 -

The revolving door that is blaming games for bad things that happen in the world spins and spins... First, after blaming video games for the riots that have plagued London for three days, UK Newspaper The London Evening Standard, ran a bold front headline page yesterday suggesting that Grand Theft Auto had inspired youngsters to run rampant through the street, committing acts of violence, looting and general public displays of destruction.

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Study: Violent Game Players Less Sympathetic to Others

April 5, 2011 -

A new study from Simmons College researchers comes to the conclusion that children exposed to more violent games for longer periods of time are less able to sympathize with others. The new study published in the Journal of Children and Media surveyed 166 Boston, MA and southern New Hampshire schoolchildren. The study was overseen by Simmons College professors Edward T. Vieira and Marina Krcmar. They examined the relationship between violent games and kids' attitudes toward violence.

The duo surveyed children age 7-15 about their favorite games, how many hours a week they played, and questions to gauge their ability to sympathize with others, to see things from another person's perspective, and whether they saw violence as an appropriate response in situations where it would be deemed justified or unjustified. The favorite "violent games" included Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, Counter Strike, Mortal Kombat: Deception, and World of Warcraft.

Cypress Hill Singer Sues Rockstar/Take-Two Over 6-Year-Old Game

December 15, 2010 -

Would you believe yet another musician is suing a game developer/publisher?

Joining the ranks of No Doubt, Courtney Love and most recently, Axl Rose, Michael “Shagg” Washington, backup singer of rap group Cypress Hill, has filed suit against Rockstar Games and Take-Two.  He alleges that the main character of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was created using his image and life story.

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Grand Theft Childhood Author Challenges Research on SCOTUS Case

October 30, 2010 -

The author of Grand Theft Childhood offers an intelligent, thoughtful rebuttal to the arguments (and the research data) being used by the State of California in the U.S. Supreme Court's review of Schwarzenegger v. EMA.

Cheryl K. Olson (Sc.D., Asst. Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School) offers an update that takes on the evidence that California is using in the case, and the conclusions drawn by politicians in their arguments. She also says that the law may very well backfire should the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling be overturned.

 

Below is a taste:

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Rockstar Trouble in Brazil

October 20, 2010 -

A Brazilian court has ordered Rockstar Games to halt the worldwide sales of Grand Theft Auto IV: Episodes From Liberty City. The Third Civil Court in the city of Barueri ordered an injunction because it allegedly uses a song without the composer's consent. The song, "Bota o Dedinho pro Alto," which was performed by an 8-year-old Brazilian boy that was composed by his father.

A court statement says the game makers do not have the rights to "Bota o Dedinho pro Alto," which is sung by an 8-year-old Brazilian boy and was composed by his father, Hamilton Louren. The court concluded that the song in the game, "Daniel Haaksman" (performed by Kid Conga feat. MC Miltinho) infringes on the other song.

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Rockstar Wins "GTA Rothbury" Libel Case

October 4, 2010 -

Earlier this summer the UK’s Daily Star fabricated a story claiming that the next entry in Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto series would be based on the July 2010 crime spree committed by ex-con Raoul Moat (pictured)across the NorthEast section of the UK and that the game would be named GTA Rothbury.

While the paper later apologized for the incident, and the piece’s author insulted gamers, calling them “grown (?!?) men who sit around all day playing computer games with one another,” the paper has been ordered to pay undisclosed damages to Rockstar and Take Two Interactive. According to the Guardian, Rockstar has accepted “substantial” libel damages as awarded by a High Court.

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Music Producer Condemns Music, Games for Impact on Kids

August 11, 2010 -

Musician and record producer Mike Stock lashed out against the current state of pop music, stating that the “industry has gone too far” as it serves up “soft pornography” to children.

Stock, perhaps best-known as one member of a trio of songwriters and producers known as Stock Aitken Waterman, which produced and wrote songs for an impressive list of musical acts ranging from Elton John to Judas Priest to Bananarama, saved some of his blame for videogames, stating:

Before children even step into school, they have all these images. The pop videos and computer games like Grand Theft Auto confronting them, and the parents can't control it. Talking to mothers' groups, they were saying that even they have lost faith in brands like Disney.

Daily Star Apologizes for Fabricating GTA Story

July 26, 2010 -

Only the Daily Star could make the New York Post look like the New York Times.

We’re a little late to this one, but last week that bastion of accurate reporting, the UK’s Daily Star, ran an article insinuating that Rockstar was making a Grand Theft Auto game based on the criminal actions committed earlier this month by ex-con Raoul Moat, who killed one and injured three across a six-day spree throughout the NorthEast UK. 

GTA Rothbury, as the game was called by Star writer Jerry Lawton, contained a series of animated quotes from relatives of the victims, outraged by the thought of a game, book or movie based on the criminal’s exploits, as reported up by CVG.

The story was eventually taken off the Star’s website entirely (since it was made up) and the newspaper issued an apology (thanks again CVG) stating:

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GTA Said to Inspire Molotov-based Attempted Arson in MA

June 30, 2010 -

Claiming they were motivated by a Grand Theft Auto play session, a pair of Raynham, Massachusetts  boys were arrested after allegedly attempting to set fire to two buildings with Molotov cocktails.

The 12-year old and 16-year old tried to burn down a garage and an apartment building early Sunday morning with stolen gasoline poured into bottles, according to Enterprise News. The younger of the two suspects told police that “they got the idea from a video game they had been playing earlier in the night.”

Police Chief Lou Pacheco told the paper, (in a solemn voice, no doubt), “They appear to have crossed the line from virtual reality to reality.”

The boys were arraigned on charges of possession of an explosive device and attempted arson before being released to their families. The two are also suspected of going on a tagging spree as well, though thankfully there was no mention of the boys playing Mark Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure prior to that undertaking.

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Four Year Old Plays GTA, Stays Nice

June 9, 2010 -

Writer Matthew Orona let his four-year old son play Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and documented the action for an article on Bitmob.

Asked by his father to jack a car waiting at a red light, the boy “quickly looked up at me with disgust and refused, stating that the car was already owned by the person driving it.” After finally grabbing an unoccupied car, the boy, unfamiliar with the controls and driving a bit too fast, ran over a woman on a sidewalk. His reaction? “He was incredibly ashamed of himself and profusely apologized.”

The boy rounded out his time by attempting to complete missions which aided other citizens, piloting a police car, ambulance and fire truck. While driving an ambulance he passed a fire house with a shiny red truck out front which mesmerized him, as it would any four-year old boy. Rather than ditch his passengers however, the boy completed his mission by bringing the ambulance occupants to the hospital before asking his dad to guide him back to the firehouse.

Orona summed up the experience:

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No Apologies: A Writer’s Cocaine-Fueled Game Addiction

March 23, 2010 -

A young man with a promising future as a writer seemingly gave it all up to in order to give in to the unhealthy combination of Grand Theft Auto IV and cocaine.

The Observer has an article up written by Tom Bissell, the former essayist himself. Bissell begins by outlining the period from 2001-2006, which saw him author two books and a series of magazine articles. During this time he says he “rarely felt disciplined,” and his productivity seemed to happen in spite of itself.

The author's dive into gaming kicked off with GTA: Vice City, which he called, “the first video game I can recall having to force myself to stop playing,” before he moved on to GTA: San Andreas and eventually GTA IV. When the latter game came out, a friend introduced Bissell to cocaine and the pair played the game for 30 hours straight.

Bissell attempted to put a finger on the attractiveness of the game:

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Grand Theft Auto Suspect Busted Playing… Go Ahead and Guess

January 22, 2010 -

A 30-year old man suspected of stealing an SUV was arrested by police in his home while playing Grand Theft Auto III.

Tampa Bay Online has the story on Michael Ray Ekes of Haines City, Florida, who was busted after the stolen vehicle was found in front of his home. For some reason Ekes was asked what he thought of GTA III. The suspect replied, “It’s a blast.”

Sheriff Grady Judd offered the pearl of wisdom that, “Crime is not a game.” He continued, “Real-life crime has real-life consequences – and I hope he goes to prison for a good long while, where they don't have 'Grand Theft Auto' video games.”

At the time of his arrest, Ekes was free on bail on two counts of grand theft auto and was on probation for a series of other offenses.


Thanks to no one in particular for sending this in

41 comments

Boys Pulls Robbery, Likens it to Real Life GTA

January 6, 2010 -

Armed with a BB gun, a 14-year old California boy stole a pair of bicycles and after being apprehended reportedly told deputies that he felt like he was playing a real-world version of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

Bakers Field Now reports that the minor was arrested by Wasco police officers after a brief chase, which he compared to an episode of Cops. He told officers that he considered “shooting the deputy in the eye,” but was scared that he would be shot in return if he missed. According to a newscast, officers also attempted to taser the boy, with “little effect.”

No word on how the boy was able to manage fleeing with two stolen bicycles.

Thanks Jack!

26 comments

40 Hour GTA IV Marathon Earns Indian Youth Laudits

October 20, 2009 -

An Indian youth recently spent over 40 hours straight playing Grand Theft Auto IV, and instead of a one-way ticket to ReStart, he received congratulations and a spot in the record books.

That’s because Chirantan Patnaik of Mumbai set a Guinness World Record with his gameathon, surpassing the previous GTA IV-specific endurance mark of 28 hours and one minute, which was set by a U.S. gamer last year. Patnaik lasted a total of 40 hours and 20 minutes reports ZeeNews, with Guinness rules mandating a 10-minute break every hour.

Patnaik prepared for his binge by running and practicing yoga. He added that avoiding coffee and eating dates (the fruit) helped him stay alert during the session. An avid gamer, this was the first time Patnaik had played GTA IV.

Indian gaming portal Zapak sponsored the event and provided observers. The company’s COO, Rohit Sharma, offered the following about Patnaik:

We have always believed in the potential of Indian gamers. Chirantan's success is a proud moment for the Indian gaming industry. This will encourage more youngsters to take gaming seriously.

24 comments

Reheating Hot Coffee: Take-Two Reaches $20M Settlement with Investors

September 2, 2009 -

Take-Two Interactive announced yesterday that it has reached a $20 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit filed over the 2005 Hot Coffee scandal.

Although T2's press release is regrettably light on details, securities are mentioned, indicating that  this case is related to loss of equity value caused by Hot Coffee and its fallout.

Venture Beat has dug up a link to the complaint, Feninger vs. Take-Two. Kotaku offers an explanation of the details:

The nut of the allegations contained in the 34-page suit, is that Take-Two was spending more than it was bringing in and couldn't survive until the next Grand Theft Auto. So, the suit alleges, the company pushed Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas out the door knowing that there was pornographic material in the game because delays would have cost the company too much. If the material was known to be in the, the suit continues, major retailers wouldn't have sold it.

The outcome, according to the suit, was inflated stock prices based on bad or uninformed information from the company and a plunge in stock values when the truth came out.

The suit also alleges that Take-Two lied about the included sex scenes, nicknamed Hot Coffee, when they first came to light, with the company the scenes were "the work of a determined group of hackers who have gone to significant trouble to alter scenes.'"

GP: We should point out that, as the record shows, the notion that Take-Two lied about the origin of the Hot Coffee scenes is a fact, not merely an allegation. In one the sleaziest moves ever seen in the game biz, Take-Two tried to pin the rap for the hidden sex scenes on its biggest fans, the GTA mod community. To be fair, there was a different management team in place back then.

27 comments

Did 7-year-old Learn to Drive From Video Games?

August 1, 2009 -

Last Sunday morning, a Utah police officer chased a car that blew through stop signs and narrowly missed a pedestrian.  Imagine the pursuing cop’s surprise when the car came to a stop and out popped a 7-year-old boy.

On Thursday, Captain Klint Anderson of the Weber County Sheriff’s Office spoke of the incident to Fox News.  Young Preston Scarbrough told police he had taken the family car because he didn’t want to go to church that morning (he later told his mom he just wanted to give driving a go).

Fox News: “How did he even learn how to [drive]?”

Anderson: “Well, we’re not exactly sure except that his father has grounded him from one of his video games which involves operating vehicles so…”

Fox News: “Something like a Grand Theft Auto, something like that?”

Anderson: “I have no idea.  I didn’t ask the father what game it was but some of those video games are pretty realistic.”

The following day, the Scarbrough family appeared on NBC's Today Show.  Preston’s father, who initially thought the police sirens outside were coming from one of his boy’s video games, confirmed that the little lawbreaker had been grounded for four days with no TV or games.

We’re going to throw away those driving video games for sure.

Preston, for his part, explained how he learned to drive.

Watched my mom. Watched my sister.

Video of the Today Show segment can be seen here and here.

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Correspondent Andrew Eisen

79 comments

7 Years in Jail for Teen; Prosecutors Say "Door Checking" Assault Inspired by GTA

July 24, 2009 -

An 18-year-old Maryland man is heading to jail for seven years for a crime which prosecutors allege was inspired by Grand Theft Auto.

Hometown Annapolis reports that Nathan Wade Hartley, Jr. "door checked" two young brothers last August. Hartley, who had three friends in his car at the time, drove at the boys (ages 11 and 15), striking one by opening the driver's door of his Honda Civic and hitting the other with the front end of his car. The boys were critically injured in the assault.

Deputy State's Attorney John Mark McDonald commented on the case:

This was particularly disturbing... It just makes me worry about what he will do in the future... The only reason these kids are alive is luck or grace or whatever you want to call it.

Maryland radio station WTOP-FM has more:

A teenager is headed to prison for what prosecutors say was a senseless crime inspired by a video game.

 

In the popular game "Grand Theft Auto," players drive virtual cars and intentionally hit pedestrians by smacking them with open car doors. It's called "door checking," and prosecutors say 18-year-old Nathan Hartley decided to try it with a real car last summer.

GP: Is "door checking" possible in GTA? I'm having trouble locating any videos depicting it...

UPDATE: PS3 Attitude spoke to prosecutor McDonald, who denied linking the crime to GTA:

The suggestion came through the Defendant. I have never seen Grand Theft Auto, and had never heard of ‘door-checking’ until this case. It was a defense he set forth in attempting to waive his case back to the juvenile court. The State did not introduce the game into the prosecution of this case. It added nothing. My comments on the game were to rebut his reasoning for doing what he did.

I did not suggest that the game was to blame for his conduct, and would not. The blame lies entirely with Nathan Hartley. I stated as much in court. As I indicated, I have never even seen the game and I was not passing any judgment on the game. I was simply arguing why I felt his justification was not valid.

GamePolitics was in touch with Hometown Annapolis reporter Scott Daugherty, whose original article seemed to suggest that prosecutor McDonald make the GTA link to the crime. Here's what Daugherty told us:

It's been awhile since I've played GTA and the prosecutor has never seen the game. According to the prosecutor, Hartley's defense attorney referenced GTA in court as a defense... I guess the old, "it's not my fault, the video games made me do it," defense.

 

While I don't recall being able to specifically door check someone in GTA Vice City (the last one played), I do remember clipping pedestrians as I drove down the sidewalk. If you hit one they would fly off to the side.
 
That is the best I can offer.

BBFC Says It Investigated Crystal Meth Recipe in GTA IV

June 22, 2009 -

The British Board of Film Classification, which last week lost the battle for control of U.K. video game ratings to industry-favored rival PEGI, once investigated whether Grand Theft Auto IV contained a genuine recipe for manufacturing crystal meth.

The Times reports that the discovery prompted "crisis talks" with developer Rockstar. In testimony last year before the Culture, Media and Sport Committee of the House of Commons, BBFC head David Cooke discussed his organization's review of GTA IV:

We did examine [GTA IV] extremely thoroughly and we are the only regulator I know of who looked, for instance, at the particular issue where... there was a concern about whether you were being given instructional information about how to make the drug crystal meth.

 

We actually took independent advice on the point and eventually were able to satisfy ourselves that some of the crucial ingredients and techniques were missing so it was not a genuine cause for concern.

UPDATE: College News (leave it to those crazy college kids) explains where the so-called crystal meth recipe can be found in GTA IV:

The suspected recipe for crystal meth can be discovered in the video game as a posting on the fictional Web site Craplist --a parody of the popular real life Web site Craigslist.

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Andrew EisenWhen I write about these massacres, I don't use the shooter's name or picture. I'm not saying everyone has to play it that way but that's how I prefer to do it.10/25/2014 - 12:44am
Andrew EisenYep, it's why the news media stopped spotlighting numbnuts who run out on the field during sporting events.10/25/2014 - 12:01am
Matthew Wilsonin media research its called the copycat effect. it simply says that if the news covers one mass shooting shooter, it increases the likelihood of another person going on a mass shooting.10/25/2014 - 12:00am
Andrew EisenAgreed. It bugs me that I know the names, faces and personal histories of a bunch of mass shooters but I couldn't tell you the name of or recognize a photo of a single one of their victims.10/24/2014 - 11:51pm
AvalongodAgree with Quiknkold. @Mecha...if that worked we would have figured out how to prevent these long ago.10/24/2014 - 11:32pm
MechaCrashUnfortunately, you have to focus on the perpetrator to figure out the whys so you can try to prevent it from happening again.10/24/2014 - 10:55pm
quiknkoldpoor girl. poor victims. rather focus on them then the shooter. giving too much thought to the monster takes away from the victims.10/24/2014 - 10:15pm
Andrew EisenFor what it's worth, early reports are painting the motive as "he was pissed that a particular girl wouldn't date him."10/24/2014 - 10:12pm
quiknkoldwell then I suck as a man cause I ask for help when necessary :P10/24/2014 - 10:07pm
Technogeek(That said, mostly I was making the smartass evopsych comment because your post seemed like the kind of just-so story that has come to dominate 99% of its usage.)10/24/2014 - 10:04pm
TechnogeekHell, Liam Neeson built his modern career around it. Cultural factors likely play a far greater role than you appear willing to admit.10/24/2014 - 10:03pm
TechnogeekSeriously, though, the idea of "because women are protectors and that's why they never commit school shootings" is, at best, grossly overreductive. There's nothing inherently feminine about being willing to kill in order to protect one's offspring.10/24/2014 - 10:03pm
MechaCrashThe "toxic masculinity" thing refers to how you have to SUCK IT UP AND BE A MAN because seeking help is seen as weakness, which means you suck at manliness, so it builds and builds and builds until something finally snaps.10/24/2014 - 10:01pm
quiknkoldthere, I'm done. And thats what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown10/24/2014 - 9:54pm
quiknkoldand I am not spouting Evopsych, technogeek. tbh I never heard the phrase till you said it. I'm going off my observations.10/24/2014 - 9:54pm
quiknkoldmoreover, the guy who did this isnt even white. He was native american according to the news report I read. Also that he went for a specific target. That's a much different picture than a certain Sandy Hook guy who will not be named10/24/2014 - 9:53pm
quiknkoldbut I am also certain nobody in their right mind is committing these shootings singing the Machoman song. these are sick individuals who have given up on life10/24/2014 - 9:51pm
Technogeekevopsych lol10/24/2014 - 9:49pm
quiknkoldWhen you suffer from mental illness, youre more likely to go by instinct. yes. I came off as sexist.10/24/2014 - 9:46pm
quiknkoldmore on somthing they are fixated on. Post Partum Depression is an example. This is why a woman is less likely to go off on a rampage.10/24/2014 - 9:44pm
 

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