By John Walker on February 16th, 2008 at 7:43 pm.
Baiting Jack Thompson is too easy. It’s the games writing equivalent of following Britney Spears around with a camera 24/7. We generally avoid it on this site.
Still, what the hell, eh? Like the aforementioned pop princess, his grip on reality could be perceived to be publically coming undone. It clearly isn’t, because he’s a lawyer, and he’s obviously in full control of all his faculties, and a lawyer. Have a look at this.
The shooting has thrown everyone – even more than any terrible killing in a high school – because Steven Kazmierczak doesn’t fit into any of the easy stereotypes for those who might usually perform such a crime. From the scraps of information we have, it seems he had recently stopped taking psych meds, and taking into account his actions, would indicate paranoid schizophrenia. Obviously this is speculation. But intriguingly, it’s speculation based on facts, rather than randomly attributing a cause de jour in order to propogate someone’s personal agenda.
The opening question (once we get past the entertaining moment of the anchor accidentally sharing everyone’s wishes):
“What does it tell you about this guy, the suspect, that he’s twenty-seven years old – he’d already graduated – not an 18 year-old, a 17, 18, 19 year-old student currently enrolled?”
“Well, we find from brain scan studies out of Harvard that if you get started, for example, playing violent video games you can, er, more likely copycat the behaviours in the games.”
The rest of his speech is the usual nonsense and undemonstrable claims about a connection between previous high school shootings and video games, but it’s this first sentence that merits the most attention.
Thompson’s a lawyer, so I’m not going to say he’s lying. But I will say what he says makes no sense in any possible way. Even if there were these “brain scan studies”, how exactly would a functional MRI demonstrate the likelihood of a “copycat” shooting? Is there an animated picture of a little pixel gunman firing a weapon on the scans? It’s gibberish. It’s the sort of woo-woo nonsense you expect to hear from someone trying to explain how their crystals prevent cats from being afraid of ghosts. “Harvard you say?! Gosh, that sounds scientific!” It’s embarrassing.
The most frustrating thing about this man’s escapades is it obfuscates what might be a very serious subject. What if violent videogames could have a negative correlative effect on young people? This is something we would surely like to know, and see studied rationally. People like Thompson (who encourages far greater feelings of violence in me than any “training simulator” like, er, Counter-Strike: Half-Life ever has) stifle this discussion through their sensationalist bullshit.
To conclude, I’d like to transcribe his last sentence.
“One of the things personally disturbing for me dist, including the fact that we have a community now of survivors and victims’ families all across the country like at Perduco who go through the trauma of these type events with the families who are, uh, most immediately hit in this way most recently because they themselves have endured these type situations is the, um… err, the… uh, fact that, you’ve got, um, uhhh, uh, I wrote a, I’m sorry I lost my train of thought, because, uh, but, uh, I wrote a book called Out Of Harm’s Way for a Chicago publisher in which, the, the only chapter they deleted was a fictionalised of, of one of these incidents in which I I said that a kid should walk onto a stage in an audatorium and open fire with a shotgun and they dist they deleted it because it was too disturbing.”
“Campus shooting expert” indeed.