Now, you may have noticed that I have remained silent on what seems to be the most talked about issue of the week, the shooting of school students and teachers in Newtown, Connecticut. This is because, despite what my bio says, I believe that I have no right to talk about some things, mostly because I know little about them, whether for lack of research on my part or because of lack of information available. Up until now, I decided that this was one of these issues. Little is known about the killer’s motives and, of what is known, I know little. I have decided to break my silence because the media has begun to speculate as to motives, specifically that the killer had a mental disorder (Asperger’s, bipolar disorder, depression, etc.) and that he was influenced by violent video games. Everyone is entitled to their own theories but, if you are not an expert on something, you should not be decimating your theory as anything besides amateur speculation.
While, yes, mental disorders can influence violence, this does not always happen. Many people with mental disorders lead good, productive lives, and of those who don’t, most do not cause harm to others intentionally. Now that certain people on TV have brought this up, though they said it is only a theory, people have begun to associate these disorders with mass murder. No matter how much it may be said that people with mental disorders are not inherently dangerous, once people hear something it resides in their mind and influences their actions, weather they realize it or not.
The theory about the influence of violent video games is much the same. Yes, violent games can affect some people, but the majority of people who play those games understand that they are just fiction and that what is depicted is not real. Some may not understand this but these cases are few and far between. Saying that playing violent video games encourages kids to go out and kill, is like saying that watching NASCAR encourages people to go out and drive at high speed, in an oval, making only left turns.
As with many such theories, mental disorders and video games causing violence are exceptions, not rules. Just because one or two people may have been encouraged to violence, or caused to be violent, does not mean that everyone in similar situations will react the same. Everyone and every situation is different and, as of yet there is no way to predict how someone will react. Does one person’s bad judgment mean that we all must change our lives? By this standard, if someone were to eat a toy, against instructions and common sense, then no one should ever play with that toy again.
P.S. I have not mentioned any names, including that of the shooter because I do not believe he nor any of the reporters that are speculating on things they know nothing about deserve any more publicity.