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Rated V for Violent


I thought the Poodle’s “Temper Tantrum” thoughtful on many counts and the “joker-in-the-deck” factor a good metaphor for the random violence that no one can foresee.

What has not been mentioned much is the glut of “virtual violence” that seems to be a major food group in the diet of the young and bored. What about the computer game where one can hone their skills for shooting people from the window of a car while running over pedestrians? The facsimiles of violence get more implicit as movies compete to remain shocking in the face of desensitization from last season’s blood fest. I am not sure how you put that problem genie back in the lamp.

I doubt that I could use my First Amendment rights to market a game called “Child Molester.” No one would allow the possible unleashing of a Pandora’s box of confused mores that might be okay in the digital zone but wrong on the street. Why should virtual violence get a pass?

In order to understand the ethical quandary posed by guns and the mentally ill, we cannot ignore the different layers perhaps contributing to the phenomena of mass shootings: the freedom to own guns, to engage in 3-D game mayhem, to rage in secret online communities amplifying the anger du jour. The chimes of freedom are clashing.

I am having difficulty accepting these random killings as an unavoidable byproduct of a free society. If we are going to permit the gaming industry the freedom to dish up ever more shocking scenarios of mayhem, we may just need to accommodate the disruptions of life imitating art.

Teens and young adults who love to be washed over by lurid and brutal dramatizations come surprisingly unglued when real violence occurs. The intense public mourning in Isla Vista for this event does not square with the otherwise intense interest generally found among the young in blood-soaked, violent game and movie art. Examining the way violence is marketed in 21st-century America may lead to controlling more than just guns.

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