In what has fast become the modus operandi for the talking heads on the Right, Elisabeth Hasselbeck has barely waited for the smoke to clear before trying her hardest to steer the conversation away from guns, the implements used to kill 12 people on Monday, September 16th in Washington D.C., to something else. As usual, rather than being willing to say that maybe there should be a discussion of gun regulations and why it’s so easy for people with apparent mental issues to get them, they prefer to point at anything and everything else just so that they don’t start foaming at the mouth and screaming that the government is trying to take their guns and subjugate them.
Where does she point the finger? In one of the normal directions that conservatives(and pretty much anyone else who doesn’t play them) love to point, video games. Because sitting in a room with or without friends and interacting with a virtual world causes murderous rages. Wait, no, actually that isn’t true. In analysis presented by Mother Jones, research has actually never conclusively linked video games to violence. Some studies say that they do, but other studies say that they don’t, so there is no consensus. One study mentioned in the piece actually showed that there are several other countries that spend the same amount of money, if not more, on video games than the United States does and yet have lower instances of gun violence.
The problem with the video games hypothesis is that it generally ignores all other contributing factors to violence and posits that the use of the media in and of itself causes the reaction. According to what Hasselbeck is trying to say, people are passive consumers who just respond to the media that they consume most. Thus if you play lots of violent video games, then you will be violent. There are two reasons why this is an ignorant oversimplification of the situation.
First, there are hundreds of millions of people also playing those same violent games who never act on it, including myself. So in order for the argument to be true, that would mean that we are all just powder kegs ready to explode. However, that would ignore the fact that virtually all mass shootings are executed by people who have a tenuous hold on reality due to a mental illness of some kind. Or the fact that they all have easy access to weapons that make killing several people in a short amount of time very easy. Therefore creating a “video game registry” would essentially be punishing everyone who responsibly plays games by allowing the government to keep track of your purchases due to the actions of a select few. Doesn’t that sound like a familiar argument? Doesn’t that seem a little hypocritical?
The second issue with Hasselbeck’s argument is that it sets people up to be mindless sheep, unable to tell right from wrong, and just responding to what they’re viewing and interacting with without an ability to think for themselves. Imagine if she actually took the time to extrapolate that out to other people, like her viewers. So ultimately the people watching her show are incapable of thinking for themselves and are just agreeing with her because all they ever watch is Fox News and they lack the mental capacity to not go out in the world and act out what they see on their televisions. But of course she’d never say that. It’s only “other” people who can’t stop themselves from buying guns and trying to act out their favorite violent video games. Though you’d think after all of these mass killings one of them would realize that life isn’t a video game in which one person can take on dozens of heavily armed and trained men and women and still survive. Though I guess that would take the ability to think clearly.
In the end what we are presented with is another Feux News pundit trying to oversimplify a complex situation in order to avoid any real discussion what-so-ever on how guns are involved in the Navy Yard shooting and what can be done to mitigate the problem. Is it just as bad to only demonize the guns used? Yes, obviously the gun used could not have been fired without the person behind it, but the problem here is that the Right, especially those Tea Party “Patriots,” is so paranoid about tyranny that they refuse to have an honest talk just so that they can evade the infamous words ‘gun control.’