The victims and families of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School continue to mourn as they search for answers as to why former student Nikolas Cruz opened fire in the halls of the Parkland, Fla. school, killing 17 people. While law enforcement officials continue their investigations, one lawmaker thinks he knows what to blame for the 18th school-related shooting in the U.S. in 2018: videogames.
Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin believes videogames, along with TV shows, movies and music, are to blame for the third-deadliest school shooting in national history due to the “culture of death” that is “celebrated” within the medium. In an interview with Leland Conway on WHAS, Bevin chose to attribute Cruz’s actions to the medium wherein players “celebrate the slaughtering of people,” as opposed to Cruz’s alleged white nationalist ties, history of mental illness, exposure to increasingly militaristic rhetoric, examples of dissociative behavior or the relative ease with which he was able to purchase an AR-15 rifle. Nope, it’s clearly the videogames.
Bevin drummed up the old adage we’ve heard countless times before, one that has also been proven wrong countless times before. That didn’t stop him from continuing down that path, though:
There are videogames that, yes, are listed for mature audience, but kids play them and everybody knows it, and there’s nothing to prevent the child from playing them. They celebrate the slaughtering of people. There are games that literally replicate and give people the ability to score points for doing the very same thing that these students are doing inside of schools, where you get extra points for finishing someone off who’s lying there begging for their life.
He also refuted videogames’ status as protected speech, saying, “These are quote-unquote videogames, and they’re forced down our throats under the guise of protected speech. It’s garbage.” The governor went on the compare games to pornography in that both have “desensitized people to the value of human life, to the dignity of women, to the dignity of human decency.”
Bevin’s comments echo similar ones he made after a fatal shooting at Marshall County High School in Benton, Ky. last month. A statement released via Facebook said, “We are desensitizing young people to the actual tragic reality and permanency of death.”
Notably disgraced attorney Jack Thompson, who was disbarred for life by the Florida Bar Association in 2009, blamed videogames for the shooting in Benton, much like he did for numerous other acts of violence over the past 20 years. He filed copious lawsuits against game developers, publishers and retailers during that period, as well. He lost all of those cases.
It makes sense that Bevin would choose to focus on a cultural boogeyman that remains evergreen, despite many studies disproving the connection between videogames and acts of violence. If he didn’t, he might have to acknowledge the country’s light handling of gun control, treatment of mental illness and tacit support of the alt-right.
Bevin is also endorsed by the NRA. That picture above was taken during his speaking engagement at the NRA-IRA Leadership Forum in Louisville, Ky. Like many other lawmakers who were called out by news outlets and Twitter users alike in the “thoughts and prayers” wave of responses to the Parkland shooting, Bevin’s connection to the pro-gun lobby renders his comments moot.
At least he didn’t say the nation should ban videogames outright, just that maybe gamemakers should take a long, hard look at themselves and determine the societal value of what they’re doing. If only gun legislation writers questioned themselves similarly.