What a load of bollocks. After all, Breivik claimed he played video games to prepare, but the only reason he had anything to prepare for was due to a truly twisted ideology that certainly didn’t come from game play. Every time we suffer an atrocity like this people immediately look for somewhere to place blame, while ignoring the fundamental causes. More often than not it’s heavy metal music or violent video games that cop the accusations, which is nothing more than lazy scapegoating.
This kind of knee-jerk censorship is feel-good action that insults the intelligence of anyone who pauses long enough to think about it. Someone who is driven to take a gun to school and blow away class mates is likely to be drawn to heavy metal music – but it wasn’t the music that made them do it. In that case, the fundamental issue is one of alienation and social isolation.
Equally, Breivik playing video games is irrelevant to his self-perceived right to take drastic action. A right he attributes to his Christian-informed, right wing, racist mission. Many things contributed to his actions, but foremost among them was that Breivik was a sociopath - a nutter who thought he had a right to murder innocent people for some ideological purpose. Censoring video games, or music or anything else, is pissing over embers on the ground while your coat is on fire.
People might suggest that the availability of these video games only serves to train and desensitise killers. The reality is someone needs to be very strongly desensitised to gun down dozens of innocent people regardless of the games they play. I’ve blown the heads off literally thousands of digital aliens and soldiers, yet I have no doubt I would be useless with a real gun. More importantly, I have no desire to use a real gun or kill real people. I’ve also killed thousands of orcs, goblins, hobbes and wizards with a sword. I’m sure if you gave me a real two-handed greatsword right now I’d drop it and cut my toes off.
When you consider the number of people playing violent video games compared to the number of people committing atrocities you have a percentage like lottery winners - infinitesimal. The mind of these people is the broken cog in the machine, not their desire to play war games.
Removing Bibles from bookshelves would probably have no more effect than removing violent games. After all, as a writer of speculative fiction I can hardly endorse the removal of the world’s best selling fantasy epic, even if it is poorly written by committee. But if it was taken away, these lunatics would find it much harder to justify their desire for murder and mayhem. And while you’re at it, take away the Koran. And you know what, just to be safe, let’s turn off the internet, close the libraries, make publishing illegal and stop people talking to each other in case they share a subversive idea.
Far better to make sure people are exposed to a broad variety of ideologies and taught ethics from a very young age. Not Christian ethics or Muslim ethics or any other medieval system of morals based on the supposed words of an imaginary daddy figure in the sky. But a code of strong morals that can usually be found at the core of all ideologies, religious or otherwise: Don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t cheat. Essentially, don’t be a selfish prick.
Along with our ethical education, a cultural education should be mandatory. Breivik was trying to “save” Norway from Islam. I certainly wouldn’t want to live in an Islamic state. But neither would I want to live in anything some Christian Fundamentalist like Breivik would consider utopian. I want to live in a diverse and interesting society, where people have all kinds of customs and beliefs, yet none of them try to convince me to adopt those practices. And I want to enjoy my heavy metal music and my violent video games.
People like Breivik will always be around. People will always suffer horrendous trauma and death at the hands of ideologues who have gone completely insane. We can’t create less of them through censorship. But we can through education. In the meantime, I’m going to vent some frustration by gunning down a few hundred digital aliens while some serious thrash metal pounds my eardrums. It makes me a better person.
This article was originally published in The Punch - http://www.thepunch.com.au/articles/Thrash-metal-and-video-games-dont-ma...