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The blame game

Over at Hit and Run (an excellent blog from the folks at Reason), there's a post about a Dateline NBC story on John Allen Muhammad, one of the two accused DC area snipers.

I didn't see the program, nor did Mike Alessi, the author who blogged the post, but he did catch the promo for it:

DATELINE HOST STONE PHILLIPS (voice-over): It's one thing to shoot at a static paper bull's eye, quite another to pull the trigger while aiming at a human target. But Muhammad apparently had this figured out, too.

(on camera): Sources close to the investigation have told DATELINE the duo had access to a popular Xbox video game called "Halo."

(voice-over): The game is a chillingly realistic simulation of what it's like to peer through a telescopic sight, line up an unsuspecting victim in the crosshairs and pull the trigger.

DATELINE has also learned that investigators are looking closely at this 1998 feature film, "Savior," about a man who loses his family to a terrorist bomb and takes revenge with sniper shootings. Sources say the movie likely inspired Muhammad and Malvo.

Ah, yes. The old media-made-him-do-it trick. We've heard this a million times before, from back when parents blamed Ozzy and Judas Priest for the children's suicides to Columbine and beyond.

Either way you look at this, it is bad for all the industries involved. On the one hand, we can end up like some of those nations in denial who have banned all sales of video games.

On the other hand, if people of reason look at this the way I, and many of you do, it could turn out just as bad.

See, I believe that if a person commits suicide while listening to a Marilyn Manson song, the thought had to be in their head to begin with. Startling, eh? A normal, healthy person does not switch on their stereo and say "Oh, a song about suicide, think I'll do that too!"

If a person shoots up his fellow students after playing Doom a couple of times, the violent tendencies and hatred that were instrumental in performing this act had to be in his head to begin with. A normal, healthy person does not look at a violent video game and say "Oh, they're shooting people, think I'll do that too!"

You see where I'm going with this, right? So, in this age of all kinds of correctness and protecting our children and making the world a place full of fuzzy bunnies and pretty rainbows, video games and violent movies will be treated pretty much like guns. Scenario:

A young man walks into Best Buy and picks up Grand Theft Auto or some game like it. He brings it to the cashier.

Cashier: Ok, sir. You know there is a three day waiting period to purchase this game?
Man: Yes.
Cashier: Ok, I just need your license and social security number, and you have to fill out this form in triplicate.

The man does just that and three days later comes back to pick up his game.

Cashier: I'm sorry, sir. You've been turned down.
Man: What??
Cashier: Well, when I plugged your name and SS# into the Total Information Vast Databank of Everything Everyone Ever Does, Says or Buys, it showed that you are currently under the care of a mental health professional. It clearly says right here on the label of this game, Warning: This game cannot be purchased by sociapaths, psychopaths or idiots.
Man: Which am I?
Cashier: Well, according to our database, you are all three.
Man: Why am I flagged as being an idiot?
Cashier: Well, I'm not supposed to tell you, but it says here that you watch MSNBC news regularly and frankly, that labels you as an idiot. Also, you recently purchased the book "To Kill A Mockingbird" from the Borders Book Store on Fifth Avenue.
Man: So?
Cashier: I'm sorry, but we can't allow you to purchase a violent video game if you own any book, movie or game with the word "Kill" in the title. May I interest you in one of our many Bob the Builder video games for the Playstation? That seems to be all you are allowed to purchase at the moment.
Man: I...
Cashier: Oh, wait! You can't buy that either. It says here that you once got into a fight with a construction worker back in college.

You get the point. Soon, they will just need to slap a label on every form of media saying, You must have clearance from a licensed psychologist, your teacher, your parents, grandparents and the nice old lady down the block before you can purchase this item.

Instead of looking at the real reasons why people commit crimes, blame is being placed everywhere but on the perpetrator. It's the guns, it's the video games, it's the tv shows, it's the music.

It's never the upbringing or the parents. The criminal him/herself is never to blame. Of course not. Someone is always digging deeper, looking for the root cause and coming up with pure bullshit in the process, allowing us to become a society where no one is ever held responsible for their actions.

It's McDonald's fault that your kid is fat. It's the tobacco company's fault that you are coughing up your lung. It's the bully's fault that you can't do your math homework at night. It's dairy industry's fault that you have zits. Go ahead, blame away. We have become a nation of finger pointers and the finger is never pointing at the right person. It's so much easier to blame a big business, to blame the media or anyone that can be sued for millions of dollars, thus easing the pain of the carpal tunnel syndrome you got from jacking off to computer porn all night long. It's the girl's fault for being so damn pretty. It's America's fault for being so damn progressive.

This is what we have to look forward to. A time when every single thing you want to do is legislated and regulated and sterilized, because we cannot accept that a person can be held responsible for their own actions.

If we don't start teaching our kids now that the world is not their fall guy, that you just can't point a finger at someone else and make your negative actions go away, we are in for a real dismal future.


Bravo! My favorite is the moron who put the hot cup of coffee between her legs as she was driving. DUH, it spilled. She sued McDonalds...and she won!
And my new hairdryer has a warning tag that says something like 'not to be used in the bath". Can you imagine what prompted that one?

Used to be when you pointed your finger at someone else you pointed four at yourself.
stick with beer, you get fat, fart awfully,but rarely (if ever ) get stomach-pumping sick

This is why I

- never underestimate human stupidity
- never underestimate the human capacity for relinquishing all personal responsibility for anything they might do in their daily lives

Both save me a lot of stress.

Years ago when I first moved to the US, I was on an intercity bus and three young punks (16, 17 or so) got on with a boombox. They proceeded to play it at full volume. I requested they turn it off. They told me to fuck off. I again requested they turn it off...in stronger terms. They decided to assault me. I mopped the floor with all three (working on the oil rigs taught me a few things). The bus driver called the cops, who were waiting at the next stop and despite everyone on the bus telling them "Those damn kids started it," it was touch and go who was going to get arrested. I'd committed the cardinal sin of modern PC America...I'd won. That automatically made me the bad guy. "What did you do to provoke them?" said one cop, to my utter disbelief. Fortunately when the cops ran us, the kids all had records, whereas I didn't even have a speeding ticket. But I don't think they were too happy letting me go...and they let the kids go as well.
It was my first experience with American "root cause" thinking and quite a surprise. In Calgary the cops would have taken me out for coffee and donuts after the paddy wagon came for the punks.

Right on! You, I and the others commenting here are not alone. I am tired of being protected from my self by warning signs, fences, labels, and legislation. I take full responsibility for my own actions, even the stupid ones. Almost all of the people I talk to regularly do too. Where has the American Dream gone? We have become a nation of get-rich-quick artists. The American Dream of hardwork and perseverance will reward you in the end has been replaced with, "why bother working hard if you can find someone to sue?" It seems to me that "most" people I talk to agree with me on this, but yet the phenomenon seems to be increading. I'm with ya', and so are many others, but until people take a stand, this trend will continue.

Yes--Sounds like the old Soviet Union. Reminds me of a quote from E.L. Doctorow: In ancient times it was customary, upon killing an enemy, to cut his heart out and eat it. Thus was your victory recorded with the gods. And thus, of course, did the gods assure the continuation of their amusement, since it could be said of your enemy that he no longer existed. Except as he existedwithin you.

And what, pray tell, compelled those BEFORE the XBox, SUVs and Rammstein? And I'm not implying there WAS life BEFORE Rammstein:)

Emma -

That "moron" who sued McDonald's received third-degree burns and required eight days in the hospital. There's more at that link. I urge you to read it.

OHFORCHRISTSSAKE Brad.......my mother, in 1967, pulled a pot of boiling water off the stove with her bathrobe pocket, burned herself and got Gangrene from an infection that resulted from HER NEGLECT. Now, who was responsible? UMMM, the pot maker? The bathrobe maker? Or, the appliance manufacturer? Maybe her "maker" for enabling her body to even succumb to infection? Or....could it be GHASP MY MOTHER for being careless? Like the temperature you like your coffee, it is all subjective. As are "Industry Standards". Or where you hold your cup when you're driving. I personally hold nothing but a steering wheel when I drive. Anything else would be neglegent in my opinion.

Sondra - she was a passenger (i.e., not driving) in the car and I also agree that spilled coffee should not cause third degree burns. If you can find anyone who likes their coffee overheated enough to cause third degree burns on their tongue, well, then maybe we'll talk.

That said, there is a line of personal responsibility - there is positive evidence that coffee served needlessly hot (from what I'm read) will cause burns, yet none that video games make you kill. So, to compare the two really is irrelevant.

My next venture will be to design a game that involves bunnies and puppies hugging and singing songs together. Anyone who doesn't play by the rules will have hot coffee launched at their crotch from a hidden space in the game console.

When I pour a cup of coffee from my French press it is too hot for me to drink immediately. My husband can begin sipping his before mine is comfortable for me. I also did not compare coffee temperature to any media. That said, I promise not to invite you over to my house for an evening of video games and java.

but......but......how'd you know how i got carpal tunnel?

I stand by my judgment. If you put a cup of hot coffee between your legs in a moving vehicle you are inviting disaster. I am sorry that her disaster was so awful, but it does not make her any the less responsible.

You've all probably seen this already, but it's here anyhow.

Let me get this straight...They're actually suing the employee too? For not assuming that the woman was too fucking stupid to live? Shame the coffee didn't melt the fucking whiney cry-baby to pulp...

Sorry, Burger King. The bitch is still alive. It's still not hot enough...