As of now, I am in control here, in the White House

If Obama Really Cared So Much About Kids and Shootings . . .

In a world where the gun control campaign was not heavily laced with politics, liberal vendettas against “gun-clingers,” and self-realization through sanctimony, a true effort to control gun violence would be include a major initiative to curtail kids’ access to violent video games and movies.

In a Wall Street Journal piece Thursday, Campbell Brown, whom I knew slightly when she was an NBC White House reporter, made herself one of the few members of the elite journalism establishment to raise the issue of media violence in a serious way, suggesting Obama is uniquely positioned to address the matter because of the money he gets from the entertainment industry.

She writes:

The president’s campaign against gun violence has produced a stale debate marked by lots of speeches with little achieved. A more creative chief executive would have used this moment to widen the discussion by drawing attention to the increasingly graphic violence so pervasive in television shows, movies and videogames . . .

Almost a third of the $1 million-plus donors to the president’s Super PAC were entertainment and media heavyweights including producers Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg . . .

Campbell doesn’t quite say it – she notes only that it would take “bravery” for him to confront his supporters – but I will. The obvious reason he doesn’t is because he gets so much money from them. If the entertainment industry were Republican, I guarantee you Obama would shaming Hollywood’s moguls and Vice President Biden would be in full fulmination mode demanding to know why they are trying to poison our youth.

Campbell notes that Biden, Obama’s gun control point man, “paid lip service” to media violence by throwing a $10 million fig leaf at it for “research” by the Centers for Disease Control.

But more research is hardly needed:

Dr. Victor Strasberger, the leading researcher on media violence for the American Academy of Pediatrics, could tell the CDC and the president what to expect: “All our studies show portraying violence is extremely dangerous,” Dr. Strasberger recently told me. “Kids become desensitized, numb to suffering around them and aggressive.”

He also says that when you add in other factors like poverty, abuse or mental illness, “you have a perfect storm. This can and does lead to violence.”

And the research only supplements common sense, though I realize asking for common sense in a political debate is asking a lot.

Now, you may already be aware that “PG-13” has become a tool used by the movie industry to get kids into what are effectively R-rated movies. But most of you grew up after video games started assaulting the sensibilities of our youth and may not fully understand – or may not want to understand – what’s going on.

If you’re a parent, you may be willfully ignorant of what your kid is doing on his iPhone or iPad, because never perhaps in the entire history of mankind has something been invented that is so effective at getting kids out of their parents’ hair than video games.

And if you’re a grandparent, you may know little about the game Johnny is playing when he barely looks up at you to say “hi” after you’ve traveled halfway across the country to see him.

Let me help.

I recently noticed a ten-year old child using what at a cursory glance looked like a cute video game called “Smash Dude.” He told me all the kids at school were playing it and they loved it.

Then I took a closer look.

I found for you a YouTube video that shows the game being played. It’s advertised in the iTunes store as a way to “add some laughs to your day.” Here, have a laugh.

Well, what could possibly go wrong with your kid after performing simulated torture 500 times?

Now, according to the iTunes applications ratings, this game “May not be suitable for children under the age of 12.” I suppose that implies that it also might be suitable. The game has been downloaded more than 3 million times.

This game, of course, is the tip of an iTunes iCeberg that includes far more graphic stuff.

Now, a riddle for you. What did our three most famous recent mass murderers, Adam Lanza, James Holmes, and Jared Lee Loughner, all have in common?

Like half of all Americans, they had access to a gun. But like a very small but growing percentage of the population, they were young people who played endless, obsessive hours of violent video games.

Mr. President, until you get serious about this, spare us the White House sob story events with kids and the mothers of shooting victims. Or at least, give us one where your Hollywood and Silicon Chip Valley donors are also on hand to try to explain themselves.

64 Responses to If Obama Really Cared So Much About Kids and Shootings . . .

  1. The riddle; what those three mass murderers had in common was mental illness. The video games connection doesn’t hold up. We could just as easily claim that a broken family unit caused them to commit murder or that eating chemically enhanced breakfast cereal is to blame.

    There is no valid evidence that violent video games (or movies) inspire people to commit murder, just as there is no valid evidence that pornography inspires men to become rapists.
    By your own information and logic, the three million people who played the violent game mentioned are all potential mass murderers and should be watched over carefully.

    It’s understandable that we want to make sense of what happened, to figure out why did these young men commit murder so that it never happens again, but the answer lies within their own minds, not on the video or movie screen.

    • Agree, SrDem–and can see a scenario in which data on owners of these games is crossed with background check data (thank you, cloud, Apple, google, or big data) …and then, no guns for you. A lot of decisions get based these days on “common sense” and memes and wishful thinking and propganda–and everything is more complicated.

      • As for that video, above, what a waste of time but of course, I watch people get blown to giblets (JUSTIFIED, SONS, etc) if I want to. I have no discretion–I guess these kids do not, either.

        • Criminal Minds, CSI’s, etc, they’re all the same.
          I just watched a BradPitt movie “killing them softly”.
          What a mistake; blood, gore, brains on the wall.
          It was repulsive.

          The point is that we’re not feeling a compulsion to go out and commit mayhem and murder after watching violent crimes.

          • No–and I read a lot of crime fiction and am on an even more active list than this one about books and crime…but only occasionally do I think I am filling my head with negative thoughts or that’s it’s harmful–maybe kind of stupid or a waste of time, but not harmful. When I did a lot of yoga, we learned some Hindu words. Sattwic was white, pure, evolved. Rejasic was red, agitated, restless. And tomasic was dark, low and useless. Sometimes I think gee, this is tomasic–but that is about it. The other day, my sister said she read the all-time worst torture–but I said, oh, don’t tell me…

          • I guess basically I can decide–and parents so inclined can decide for kids or kids for themselves–but I do not want the executive to be censoring or trying to guilt-provoke companies into censoring… I see people doing Sedoku or crosswords–do I say, look at the time, go out and volunteer?

          • I don’t suppose it was the last episode of Downton?
            NB: unforgiveable snark.
            If you ban me from replying, I will understand.

  2. Campbell Brown had the intelligence to marry a sensible man, Dan Senor…it must be rubbing off on her….that is good.
    That did not seem to work for James Carville when he had the good fortune to marry Mary Matalin.

  3. Just to liven this up with our old friend counterintution, studies show young people who play a lot of video games have a leg up as surgeons, esp using the robotic surgery techniques (which are being questioned a little–don’t hop on that without asking about it).

    • Star – they won’t be able to focus long enough to perform surgery because this stuff ruins your attention span with constant imagery bombardment. Unless the organs start changing colors and jumping around to music.

      But I do have another silver lining for you, and I’m serious about it. They are going to be able to use the military’s war machines – tanks, planes, drones, etc – at the highest level of competency!

  4. At least you are willing to start a discussion, Keith.

    Maybe another topic to include would be for parents to care more (obviously there are some that do) about teaching their children the difference from right and wrong. That way regardless what they are subjected to they still know the difference between fantasy and reality. Understanding, of course, there will always be those that have other substantial issues where that type of instruction just does not take.

    With both parents working outside the home the children are typically left to strangers to raise. Parents get home from work, rush around for other activities (either for the children or for themselves), spending little to no time as a family. I cannot tell you the number of children I have had in my home for days at a time, even weeks at a time, and I haven’t even met the parents.
    Yes, there are issues with our current programming on television, with the desensitizing in violent movies and video games. These can be minimized or even alleviated with engaged parents.

    The truth is, there is no personal accountabiity anymore. Blame everything around you on tv, video games, parents, siblings, your Sunday School teacher, etc. Bottom line is, we all have choices to make and should be held responsible for those choices. If we, as parents, don’t like the content in the tv shows, the movies, or video games we can make choices to not participate in such activities. As long as those industries are making money, they will continue their activities. Who’s to blame? Them for the business they engage in, or us who continue to support and affirm their business model?

    I’m more interested in having the debate on the effect of broken families, declining morals, lack of responsibility and accountability. Everything else is a by-product. You don’t like the video game? Don’t buy it or let your kids play it. You don’t like the violence in a movie? Don’t go see it, and don’t let your children see it. You don’t like the programming on tv? Change the channel. At the end of the day, it’s time we start holding people accountable for THEIR choices.

    • Good comment. Here they are making a big political argument over gay marriage. I saw an article yesterday that stated that the family is still here, only it’s being expanded. What wonderful news! Excuse me, but when nearly half of births are approaching out-of-wedlock status, meaning most likely no father in the home and a mother in low economic status or on welfare, the “family” is not in good shape. The moral crisis in this country is not keeping gay and lesbian marriage illegal but the destruction of the traditional family. What kind of a nation are we going to be in the not too distant future?

      • We will be what the progressives have always wanted; the government is your family. The govenment will feed, clothe and house you and yours. From birth to death.
        Remember “Julia”?

        Just two months ago, MrObama proposed a pre-school for all children without any reasoning that would make it imperative to take children as young as 3yrs old and put them in “school”. It’s the government raising our children, teaching them the “right” things that they want.

        It’s scary.

        • In fact, since we’re all quoting studies here, a study has shown that Head Start does not benefit children entering K-12.

          • Good on ya, Julie. Still, it’s all the tax-payer-funded-deal for pre-school and K these days.
            I know it’s what Mah Man calls “Bad Thoughts”, but I hate it that schools are funded on Average Daily Attendance.

    • Dances, outstanding summary. I was raised by a single Mom (Daddy preferred the company of a Rockette) in the 50/60s. I have yet to kill anyone, commit a felony (The drug experimentation doesn’t count, I hope?) or harm small animals. Why? Because every night, despite a 2 hour commute each way, my Mother took the time to talk with me, LISTEN to me and kick me in the butt when needed. Weekends she made time for me too instead of going out on her own.

      I think Americans look for a quick fix to their problems. A single diet pill allows you to consume 1000s of calories at a time, you send a check to the United Way and you feel you have done something and you can blame Microsoft for your child’s sociopathic tendencies.

      Blame yourselves, parents.

      • Great post. I, too was raised in the 50’s/60’s by my mother who worked full time and gave up a lot to spend time with me, my brother and sister and to teach us right from wrong.

        Today, parents are too busy to parent. They love leaving that to the schools. That is exactly what the people-controllers worked towards. HITLERy’s “it takes a village” is the end game. The state has become the parent and parents have willingly allowed it to.

      • Kudos for your mother, Rick. I was a single mother for several years. Not easy, but it worked.

        I am constantly accused of being a ‘mean mom’. That’s ok. In the end, my children will (hopefully) be responsible adults. I made my 16 year-old son buy his first car. Why? Because he needed to be invested in the vehicle. Tough lessons, I say bring them on. It’s better for the to learn under the protection of their parents than be bombarded later in life without a clue how to deal with the problems.

        Another discussion this country needs is one on mental health. We have a 24 year-old daughter who is ADHD/Bipolar. We spent countless hours in counseling. We, as parents, went to classes to learn as much as possible in order to deal with her. We put her in the mental ward in a local hospital one year. We called the police on her, did all sorts of things within our power. Let me tell you, it’s not much. Now that she is an adult, and has a toddler, we have absolutely no control and no say-so. Could she be one of the ones you see on tv that snaps and does something horrendous? Quite possibly. It wouldn’t surprise me at all. Even when she lived under my roof, there was little we could do. The other kids, raised with the same values, discipline, etc. are completely different. Sometimes the things of the mind make no sense, and more needs to be done to ‘control’ their impluses.

        The only thing left we have at our disposal is hitting our knees, and trust me we do plenty of that.

        • Dances, my Ex and I raised one child, a female. Like your mean mom concept, I was the Bad cop, the Ex was the Good cop. She always wanted to be one of the girls, take the child shopping, etc. I coached basketball for her, went over the HW, said NO a lot, etc.

          My daughter is almost 33 now with a child of her own. Her husband is playing Good cop, she’s the Bad one. Recently, she kissed me and said “Thank You, Dad”. I guess she understand now what being a parent needs to be.

          • Isn’t it great when your adult children acknowledge your good parenting skills? My daughter, now 30, wrote me the loveliest letter several years ago, praising me for allowing her the freedom to make her own mistakes, and to experience the consequences of those errors in judgement. Thankfully none of her mistakes were serious or illegal, but having left home at 17 she grew up quickly and realized that she had to stand on her own two feet. She is now a responsible, fully employed, productive member of society. I’m so proud of her!

  5. Nat Hentoff, a conservative writer I admire but who isn’t a big name like Beck or Limbaugh, wrote a column a couple of months back pointing out the hypocrisy of Obama, guns, and children which asked about the innocent children killed abroad by indiscriminate droning. Hentoff asked if the lives of those children mattered equally with those killed in Connecticut. Hentoff is a very pro child conservative and an Orthodox Jew against abortion.

  6. Sorry, I didn’t mean to go off on a tangent, but your very thoughtful argument on Obama’s hypocrisy on TV/movie/video violence brought to mind Hentoff’s stance. It’s not only hypocrisy but very cynical hypocrisy at that.

    • MrHentoff is right to point out the hypocrisy of killing innocents abroad while decrying the deaths of innocents here in the US.
      But what MrObama and his minions want and are willing to exploit is the human response to protecting children so as to disarm the Ameican public.
      They used the SandyHook tragedy as a jumping off point for their agenda of a helpless and defenseless public. They are afraid of the people they can’t control with free stuff or threats. They believe that the tea party patriots are terrorists who want to overthrow the current government. Maybe they do; they sure don’t like what Washington has become and might want to put in a more constitutionally-based govenment.

      • Oh, I agree with what you say Obama’s devious intentions are, but I agree with KK too on the effects of violence on TV, in the movies, and in video games. I think they have a numbing, dehumanizing effect on people–of all ages. It’s a quick step from saying, “That’s just a movie” or “That’s not real” to being indifferent to what happens to living human beings.

        • you could also say it’s a “dumbing down” of our children. It’s being done by the media, hollywood, schools and our government. In some situations, parents do not want to be parents anymore, or look for the easy way out. This is just one part of the problem though.

  7. Video games need to be treated with the same level of legal access as movies: proof of age required to purchase, enforced under penalty of law.

    I wouldn’t want my niece to even SEE me playing, for instance, Heavy Rain. However, that game does give you the chance to experience a life situation no human being should ever have to experience, and asks you how far you’d go to save someone you love. I’ll be honest when I admit that I don’t like what that game taught me about myself; that said, I’m glad I got to experience it. THAT said, it’s DEFINITELY not for young eyes.

    And then there’s Shadow of the Colossus, which reduced me to tears several times, and had me apologizing out loud to the monsters I was killing. Absolutely not for kids (the ending borders on traumatizing, even for grown-ups), but a beautiful game I’m also glad I got to play.

    Video games have come a long way since Pac-Man. And I don’t think too many gamers would want to go back to the more abstract games of yesteryear. I certainly wouldn’t: the early shopping mall scene in Heavy Rain would be much less effective if the game weren’t as realistically rendered as it is. It’s DEFINITELY not a scene I’d want a young child to watch, but it does help you connect with one of the characters you control, making the rest of the game that much more personal.

    The solution, however, is not to put some latter-day Production Code on video games. It is to stop allowing the screen–big, small, or interactive–to be the baby-sitter.

    Which might be easier to do if it didn’t take both parents working: one for the family, the other for the IRS. If parents were allowed to be parents, instead of revenue sources for a government that spends too much, they wouldn’t be using screens as baby-sitters, and we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

    The solution is not to censor video games: it is to allow parents the chance to raise their children properly. The chickens of the anti-family policies of the US government are coming home to roost, in a very big way.

    • I hear what you say, Darkangel.

      My husband and I agreed many years ago for me to come home from a very good job because we saw what both of us being gone was doing to the kids.

      The amazing thing is, when you don’t go out and purchase everything you ‘want’ it can be done. I’m not saying it’s always easy or always attainable. I just think that even the “poor” in this country live quite well. We didn’t worry about getting our nails done, having a cell phone or nice computers. We clipped coupons and shopped the sales. We didn’t over-indulge. We didn’t worry about cable tv. We went outside and explored.

      More times than not, it’s more expensive in the long run to have one spouse work. By the time you pay for daycare, clothes, food, gas, etc. you actually are better off when you do stay home. Not always, but in many cases. Over all, the family is much better off.

      The other thing we did that most people don’t even think about, is we saved. We didn’t purchase a home that would have us live paycheck to paycheck. We saved enough to build as we go. We had enough to finish a basement and lived in it as we built the top portion of the house. We utilized family and friends and the co-op mentality. No debt. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t have a mortgage to worry about. It’s do-able but most people don’t want to make the sacrifices in order to achieve it. You are right. We are a society of instant gratification. I want it, and I want it now. It is sad.

      Best to you.

  8. The problem goes much deeper than video games and we know it. Both governments and corporations work together to destroy the very foundations of society necessary for order, peace, and prosperity.

    The left in particular works tirelessly to destroy the family, create poverty, encourage class/generational/sex/racial conflict, brainwash and indoctrinate children into promiscuity, irresponsibility, and dependency, and undermine the authority of parents.

    The left is at war against children and their futures and unless the adults with decency and common sense are as fanatic and work as tirelessly to save our children as the left is and does to destroy them, there is little hope for any remaining liberty or life beyond slavery.

  9. I agree that video game violence desensitizes kids and causes them to be more aggressive. Look at all the bullying reports we’re seeing. I think the mass shooters were unhinged from reality for a variety of reasons and video games aren’t the only cause of their violence, but I certainly think they contributed. Look at the Smash Dude video above. What is the purpose of that game if not to inflict pain or harm someone? It’s certainly not educational. Look at some of the cartoons on Disney and other kids channels. I certainly didn’t expect to see characters running around with swords fighting and killing each other in a kids cartoon. Parents need to parent also and it’s sad that some have so little interaction with the kids.

  10. Mental illness is not new nor is it always tied into games, movies or crappy parenting. What has changed over the past 25 years plus is poor to lousy coverage for professional psychiatric treatment, which cannot be done by social workers, who cannot write a prescription. Society spins at a fast pace and treatment does not …and the need for long term care facilities simply don’t exist unless you have attempted to assassinate a president. John Hinckley was obssessed with the movie Taxi Driver, but his mental issues predated the movie. The movie or a game is the vehicle, which may accelerate the behaviors, but the mental illness came first. We’ve all watched horror films. I distinctly recall watching The House of Wax in 1953 – I did not want to own a museum and murder people and dip them in wax – ever. In fact, candles scared me for years after watching the movie.

    • Sadie –
      You are so right. As a parent of a child that can go off the deep end at a moments notice, I empthatize with parents who deal with these types of issues.

      Even with good psychiatric care there are still very little options available. Progressive ideology that leaves way too many gaps and unintended consequences.

  11. I was pleasantly surprised to see this piece by Campbell Brown the other day. It would be good if some Dems and others on that side actually took up the argument responsibly. That said, good exchange of ideas today here. I appreciate it.

  12. I’ve posted this before but I will post it again. The fact that we are talking about shootings of children rather than murders of children is the true tragedy. According to the FBI-SHR database accessible at this website:

    Twenty-four thousand young children (less than 12 years. Old) children have been murdered during the last three decades. Over twenty thousand or eighty percent of these murdered children were not killed with guns! The vast majority of murderred children were brutally beaten, bludgeoned, burned, strangled and stabbed to death. More importantly; young children are seldom murdered by some creepy stranger who is overdosed on hyper violent video games. The vast majority of murdered children are brutalized by their mothers, putative fathers, stepfathers, mothers’ boyfriends, or step siblings.

    Guns don’t kill young children.

    Violent video games dont kill young children.

    Dysfunctional, non traditional families where children are not living with both biological parents who are in a committed relationship (marriage) muddier young children.

  13. I believe the old adage “garbage in, garbage out.” Participating in violent video games is not innocent play. It is an exercise in imagining first-hand participation in violence. And, what we exercise in imagination often becomes our reality…hence the presumed “power of positive thinking.” Those who believe that video game (or televised) violence does not impact the psyche are sadly mistaken. Try removing both from your life and see how your perspective changes….you just may find that you can still think independently. Good article, Keith – thank you.

    • Spot on. Didn’t Jesus say something about if a man looks at a woman with lust in his heart, he has already committed adultery?

    • You are spot on, Aileen. And just like in every other ‘evil’ in this world, we have the responsibility to not participate. If parents would leave the video games on the shelf the lack of sales would take care of the problem.

      Once those games are in the hands of the individual, then obviously there can be issues. One problem is that too many parents allow their children the access.

      As an adult, I’m not sure what you can do. We are all faced with choices and decisions every day. Evil has always been in the world and will until God established the new Heaven and new Earth.

      When we don’t hold individuals responsible for their choices they continue to make really poor ones.

      • If anyone succeeds in censoring or grinding down to pabulum because of people “who just know,” I will have to get my entertainment on the black market. I would no more trust this admin to dictate my entertainment than my health care.

    • But my point is–you cannot force someone to think positively–play cribbage of watch Little House on the Prairie reruns…no matter how much you “think” this will help them or society. the power of p ositive thinking may be “presumed,” but studies are inconclusive.

  14. Clearly the rush to gun control has shown itself in the retrospective backdrop of things like Fast and Furious as being motivated by things other than concern over the children the Treasodent (treason + president) surrounds himself with for the manipulative stage prop value they have in abetting his political agenda that was accelerated by people like Adam Lanza, Jared Loughner, and James Holmes. Basing any discussion on a premise that public safety is a motivating factor effectively stalls out public discourse on the core issue of our elected officials patently ignoring rights and freedoms of law abiding citizens in their pursuit of a political agenda that is at very best ominous.

    I doubt that regulating violent video games would solve a problem whose genesis was likely enabled by an absentee style of parenting with the reversal of that offering the best route toward a solution- without undue regulations or expansion of the bureaucracy that will accomplish nothing beyond indulging the spending fetish harbored by legislators who have shown less than zero intention of tackling matters that they should- like bringing the size of government down to where the shrinking tax base can afford it… they’re far too intent on eroding our constitutional rights through the exploitation of what we see as crises and they see as opportunities..

  15. Since there are no bills that address gun violence causation, one can only assume that gun (meaning people) control was the plan all along regardless. The recent high profile shootings just made it that much easier.

    To further prove that pint, not many people understand that some of the gun control bills were already in development for one to two years, and would have been introduced regardless. Aurora and Sandy Hook just made things neatly convenient for not letting crises go to waste.

  16. I wish you would look up a case that occurred in Michigan in the late 1900’s or early 2000’s. It was about a 13 year old who accidently killed a little 10 year old girl. The incident happened when the 13 year old pulled what was considered a wrestling move on the 10 year old that killed her. It was decided to try him as an adult. This was a miscarriage of justice for the 13 year old. He was just acting out what he had witnessed on TV, not wanting to cause death.

  17. Why would he work for actual solutions? The President’s track record shows he far prefers to give speeches and make a lot of noise about problems. Then propose “solutions” that only cause more problems. Which he can then blame on the republicans or anyone else handy.

  18. All of these studies are statistical analyses. Stats can be manipulated in the way that the analizer wants. For example, Did you know that every person that has ever gotten cancer drank water at least one time during their lives? So statistically, we should not drink water! My son plays these vidiot games incessantly, but he is well behaved, polite, speaks well with adults, and is coaching an under 6 soccer team. I have played these games with him and get bored with them as too much of the same crap. I have pointed my bordom with the games to him and he shrugged it off, but he heard me and sees the error of his ways, but that doesn’t stop him from playing. BUt, he is playing them less. We need, as parents, to play these games with them and and teach them how these games don’t really apply to real life in a polite way without being “preachy” He is now aspiring to be a doctor, and he has the grades to do it.

  19. Most of the President’s heavyweight supporters are Hollywood types and T.V. mavens. All of whom are either carrying a weapon themselves and also have bodyguards who do. President Obama, if honest, should address that. As for the entertainment sex and violence, I cannot and have not ever, felt it had any redeeming value. I would like good clean entertainment or a story I can sink my teeth and brain into.

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