Monday, September 15, 2003


I was going to post this as an Editorial on State, but I thought it'd be unfair to pre-empt the conclusions to Nick's fine column.

Claims by teenage boys in Tennessee that they were acting out the Grand Theft Auto game when they shot at vehicles are threatening to put the US entertainment industry back on trial. One man was killed and a woman was badly hurt when William Buckner, 16, and his step-brother Joshua, 14, decided to relieve their boredom by opening fire on traffic on Interstate 40 with a .22-calibre rifle.

What's wrong with this statement? No, it's not that the boys were acting out a videogame. It's the fact that two teenage boys were out in public with a rifle, TOTALLY UNSUPERVISED.

From the same article: Last month, a 14-year-old boy in southern Ohio stabbed his aunt to death, possibly while sleepwalking. Just hours earlier, he had been playing a game called Diablo. It is "hugely significant," Mr Thompson said.

What's "hugely significant" is that in both these cases the children playing the games have been younger than the recommended age limit for both games. If the guardians of these children had prevented inappropriate material from falling into the hands of their wards, perhaps these tragedies wouldn't have occured. Perhaps, if they'd taken precautions to safeguard their firearms from the prying fingers of minors, we wouldn't emotionally immature kids rampaging around with guns.

It beggars belief sometimes, the ease with which lawyers and parents point the finger at videogames, TV or film, in order to explain the violence of teenagers - totally sidestepping their responsibility to make sure their kids are brought up emotionally balanced and with a firm grounding and concept of moral responsibility, but no, it's far easier to point the finger at games, TV and films they shouldn't be watching or playing anyway.

Why they don't have a parenting competency test is beyond me. You need a license to go fishing, own a TV and drive a car, but not to have children? That's what the lawyers should be campaigning for - preventing lives being ruined by people incapable of raising their children properly - not campaigning to ban a media for events attributed to being "inspired" by it's misuse by minors and maniacs.

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