Recent comments by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) regarding the dangers of video games prove once again that rich old white men simply don’t get our favorite medium and view it as nothing more than a convenient scapegoat. In an interview with MSNBC, The oft flannel-ed former presidential candidate offered the following enlightened opinion:
“I think video games is [sic] a bigger problem than guns because video games affect people. But the First Amendment limits what we can do about video games, and the Second Amendment to the Constitution limits what we can do about guns.”
And to think I voted for this guy in my high school’s mock 2000 presidential election. Seventeen-year-old Scott Colby rescinds his support, sir!
Video games are a bigger problem than guns because video games affect people? If I’ve learned anything from all those first person shooters I’ve played, it’s that guns have a hell of an affect on people. I also learned that hiding behind cover for a few seconds heals all wounds–but that’s a topic for another day.
You know what affects people? Voting to reduce funding for food stamps. Voting against a bill that establishes additional penalties for violations of equal pay requirements in the Fair Labor Standards Act. Voting against the bill that repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. All of these things affect people. Dumbass senators who only care about protecting their important donors (Alexander received approximately $10,000 in campaign contributions from the NRA during the previous election cycle–one of the largest donations made by the infamous gun lobby to the current crop of senators) affect people. But the First Amendment limits what we can do about dumbass senators who say dumbass things, and the Second Amendment limits what we can do about the NRA. I know: let’s fight the danger posed by people like Lamar Alexander by banning flannel shirts!
I’ve made it quite clear that I think blaming any one thing for the rash of violence in this country is stupid. There are a ton of economic, social, and political factors that contribute to our society’s problems. People turn to violence when they’re desperate: when they don’t have a job, when they can’t afford food, when society won’t let them be who they are or help them with their problems. We have to take the time to thoughtfully examine the whole thing rather than jumping to knee-jerk conclusions that make a few concerned housewives feel better while protecting important sources of campaign contributions.
I wish there were a single, simple way we could better educate those in power about our medium. Sure, we could form a gamer SuperPAC and bribe the suckers like everyone else who wants something does, but that’s just dirty. The best way would be to make them play, to show them that gaming itself isn’t inherently evil and that it can, in fact, do a lot of good. And I’d challenge anyone who says games do nothing but cause violence to play through Spec Ops: The Line and tell me with a straight face that they’d ever want to pick up a weapon in real life.