By John Walker on January 23rd, 2013 at 12:00 pm.
At a point where the Obama administration has called for independent research into the relationship between violent games and real-world violence, you’d think it would be a perfect time for everyone to keep their gobs shut until some more data is revealed. Or at least to take notice of the data currently available. But of course not. Which is why this week we’ve seen a former presidential candidate declare equivalence between gaming and child molestation, and the Taliban enter a stupid-off with Prince Harry.
People’s opinion of Ralph Nader tends to be mostly driven by their opinions of the Republican and Democrats at any point in time. But the third-wheel presidential candidate is playing fast and loose with any reputation he may have had with a statement that’s as offensive as it is egregiously ignorant. The 78 year old activist has declared that videogames are “electronic child molesters”. Because that’s a balanced and reasonable remark.
“We are in the peak of [violence in entertainment],” Nader told Politico. “Television program violence? Unbelievable. Video game violence? Unprecedented. I’m not saying he wants to censor this, I think he should sensitize people that they should protect their children family by family from these kinds of electronic child molesters.”
Throwing out the words “child molesters” is certainly a great way of getting attention, and sure, it’s worked. But it’s also a way of declaring yourself stupidly insensitive. Nader either has no idea of the genuine horror of child abuse, or he’s cruel enough to want to misuse it to win an argument. Either way, it’s not an impressive showing.
Which makes the other half of the madness in the press this last 24 hours even more weird to hear. According to a report by Al Jazeera, the Taliban have released a statement aggravated by the ignorance of Prince Harry’s quoted claims that war is comparable to playing videogames. The quote attributed to Britain’s favourite Nazi nudist says that flying an Apache helicopter is…
“a joy for me because I’m one of those people who loves playing PlayStation and Xbox, so with my thumbs I like to think I’m probably quite useful”.
Putting aside the slightly unnerving suggestion that being involved in the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan is “a joy”, um, what? Of course the Taliban, in a situation where they could have taken the upper hand, have reached into their own pot of dumb.
“Probably developed a mental problem,” Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid told Al Jazeera. “There are 49 countries with their powerful military failing in the fight against the mujahideen, and now this prince comes and compares this war with his games, PlayStation or whatever he calls it.”
So yes, this is clearly propaganda for the terrorists. Let’s not lose sight of that. But still. He goes on, “This is a serious war, a historic war, resistance for us, for our people… But we don’t take his comments very seriously, as we have all seen and heard that many foreign soldiers, occupiers who come to Afghanistan, develop some kind of mental problems on their way out.”
The tragedy is, fighting in Afghanistan is indeed traumatising many soldiers. And it’s gross to see the Taliban seemingly mocking this. But what a day it is when you find yourself trying to work out who’s speaking more sense on the subject.