A good old fashioned book burning, updated for the modern age.


Thirty miles south of Newtown, Connecticut, in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, a tiny township called Southington is preparing to deal with the aftermath of said shooting and end the scourge of violence among youths by… you guessed it… amassing, destroying and burning violent video games.

Following the shooting, Southington School superintendent Joe Erardi said that he was flooded with emails from concerned parents asking what could be done to help both the nearby Newtown community and their own.

“What happened in our community, very similar to communities across the world, is everyone wanted to do something for Newtown,” he said. The SOS “convened and we looked at how do we continue to pray and support Newtown and how do we do something perhaps meaningful for Newtown and our own community.”

At the heart of the Violent Video Games Return Program, inspired by a similar program kicked off by a 12-year-old in Newtown, is the need for parents to have a “real, sound conversation with their children about video games,” Erardi tells Polygon.

Amazing to me that video games are STILL the scapegoat of choice, despite being far better regulated in North America than any other sort of media (with the ESRB ratings), and despite video game violence being well studied, and despite not having any sort of correlation with violence in other countries, and despite the average gamer being 35-ish. The entire narrative is so contrafactual that my mind strains to find purchase in this sort of mass delusion and mass moral panic. Older folks are admittedly less likely to be gamers, so they see younger folks gaming and assume that must be what makes them different enough to cause such mass shootings.

Therefore, rather than doing something about gun laws that make it easy to obtain guns even when mentally unstable; easy to obtain guns that can unload dozens of projectiles between reloads; easy to obtain body armor and other commando gear; easy to obtain with the barest minimum of training… let’s blame video games instead. All the lip service paid to how solid the training is, to how carefully each gun owner is vetted, is mere lip service; theatre at absolute best. Any attempt at gun control is “banning all guns for everyone”, and the entire sensible middle ground is excluded. If you don’t have the right to bear automatic machine guns, liberty will fall. Never mind that the most powerful and highest capacity gun you have will never outstrip the might of your nation’s army.

Meanwhile, video games are being collected, snapped, then burned.

It would be nice if the conversation was had, and that parents who buy games for their kids take care not to buy violent games they don’t feel their kids are ready for — consider that the average game purchaser is 40, while the average gamer is 35. It’s fairly evident that parents are not watching what they buy their kids as well as they should, and that they’re ignoring the ESRB ratings on those games. It would be lovely if this quote was representative of the sentiment:

“We’re suggesting that for parents who have a child or children who play violent video games, to first of all view the games. We’re asking parents to better understand what their child is doing. Have a conversation about next steps. If parents are comfortable (with their child’s gaming habits), we’re comfortable.”

But it’s not representative. The reaction to a parent who blindly purchased a violent video game for their young child is not to chastize them for having failed in their job of guiding their kids through media in what they might think is a safe and responsible manner — it is to consider these parents victims of an insidious creeping horror and to blame the media itself.

While the return program calls out violent video games, violent movies and music will also be accepted.

Once turned in, those discs will be snapped, tossed into a town dumpster and likely later incinerated, Erardi said.

And this will have absolutely no effect on shootings.

This is scapegoating in the truest sense. Via Wikipedia:

Throughout the year, the sins of the ancient Israelites were daily transferred to the regular sin offerings as outlined in the Torah in Leviticus Ch 16. Once a year, on the tenth day of the seventh month in the Jewish calendar, the Day of Atonement, the High Priest of Israel sacrificed a bull for a sin offering for his own sins. Subsequently he took two goats and presented them at the door of the tabernacle with a view to dealing with the corporate sins of God’s people — the nation of Israel. Two goats were chosen by lot: one to be “The Lord’s Goat”, which was offered as a blood sacrifice, and the other to be the “Azazel” scapegoat to be sent away into the wilderness. The blood of the slain goat was taken into the Holy of Holies behind the sacred veil and sprinkled on the mercy seat, the lid of the ark of the covenant. Later in the ceremonies of the day, the High Priest confessed the sins of the Israelites to Jehovah placing them figuratively on the head of the other goat, the Azazel scapegoat, who “took them away” never to be seen again. The sin of the nation was thus “atoned for” (paid for) by the “The Lord’s Goat” and “The Azazel Goat”.

Install the sins into an object, then destroy that object. Avoid any responsibility for the sins in the first place. This quote from the article was particularly telling:

“I did receive a sarcastic sort of email asking if they could turn in BB guns,” he said.

What if it wasn’t sarcastic? How would these people know?

Comments

  1. Rodney Nelson says

    It’s a lot easier to trash something you don’t use than to look for solutions to real life problems.

  2. moarscienceplz says

    If I lived near there, I’d bring a couple of bibles to toss on the fire. If anyone objected, I’d read the sweet little bedtime story of the genocide of the Amelekites to them!

  3. Brad says

    I wouldn’t say better regulated. Above average regulated, certainly, but still done in the ludicrous “sex bad violence ok” mores of the culture.

  4. Aliasalpha says

    Achievement Unlocked: *Facepalm*

    Achievement Unlocked: Barbarians

    Achievement Unlocked: Just Like The Nazis

    Achievement Unlocked: Godwin!

  5. grumpyoldfart says

    Back in the 1950s the ratbags were blaming comic books for most crimes. Well who could blame them when a character like “Kid Colt Outlaw” was depicted as a hero.

  6. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    A good old fashioned book burning, updated for the modern age.

    Misdirected public outrage can be so farsical that given this headline,
    I was prepared to see a mob deleting eBooks.

  7. Anonymous Atheist says

    Burn the witches for casting a spell of evil on the youths!

    Parents snatching away piles of games, movies, and music their kids/teens owned (and may have purchsed on their own) and may have cared about (I know many of my favorites in high school could have been included), to publicly destroy them… great way to make *more* disaffected youths.

  8. popeonarope says

    I don’t like it, but as long as they’re burning *their own* violent video games, I’ll call it wasteful stupidity & move on to the next topic of interest. Southington is no Selma, AL

  9. Scr... Archivist says

    I wonder if there’s some way to spring any of these games from their doom. There might be some bargains to be had.

    Besides that, I’m as worried about this as I am about the Disco Demolition Night in 1979. That didn’t kill its scapegoat either.

  10. eucliwood says

    Ugh, feel sorry for any people who have had their games taken out of their bedrooms for stupid parents who decided to go “ohh look! well thats the last straw hun, and there’s a game burning service right there. Im taking this!”

  11. Tony the Queer Shoop (proud supporter of Radical Feminism) says

    “…and while violent video games will shoulder the burden of influencing our youth, we shall continue to ignore violence of American football.”

  12. nakarti says

    (I’ll get ignored because its a few days old, but…)
    Wait, now that I read the origin of scapegoat, aren’t violent media the blood sacrifice and gun control is the scapegoat that is set loose into the wilderness?

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