So my state of residence is catching one version of the “Legislative Sandy Hook Panic Virus” and is considering a tax on violent video games.
“A Missouri State lawmaker from Taney County wants to tax violent video games in response to the Connecticut shooting. Missouri House Representative Diane Franklin, a Republican, introduced the bill. It would put a one percent tax on all video games rated "T" for teen, "M" for mature and adult only… The proposed tax would fund only mental health treatment on top of what the state already has dedicated in the budget. The bill has been introduced in the house but has not been scheduled for a hearing or a vote.”
This makes no sense to me. Here are some questions I have about the entire idea:
First of all, I am willing to believe there is a violence media correlation, but it applies to TV and Movies at least as much as anything else. As I understand it, cultures that begin to get saturated with Western media also suffer rising crime rates. Assuming that this correlation is causative, why pick out video games? Why allow torture porn to be freely available and then tax far less offensive or disgusting video games?
Secondly, relying on the rating system doesn’t seem warranted from my experience with such games. To this day I still can’t understand why the first Halo game was rated M. These ratings include a wide range of types of content. Some of it I’m sure should never have been produced for any age. But other is not remotely so “bad.”
Thirdly, why do only “shooter” games have this negative effect? I have never heard of anyone reported to have started “mass punching” after playing a personal hand-to-hand combat game like Tekken. And if those games can also be rated Teen or Mature, why should they be taxed along with the shooters? And what about T-rated racing games? Do they cause illegal street drag racing or dangerous car tricks on the highway?
Fourth, it seems to me that the real threat of all the available video games is being misunderstood. The popular conception is that the games make someone want to be an active killer. But isn’t the real problem with video games is that they train most people to sit around and do nothing? Do we have a problem with proactive people who are prone to take action because of the games? Or do we mostly see an increase in mutant teenage ninja couch potatoes?
Fifth, what about Guitar Hero and Rock Band? I have yet to hear of any rising music star who was trained first on one of these games, and who then went out and acquired a real instrument, and began to play for real. That’s not how video games work.
Sixth, has anyone conducted a study on how males are affected by institutionalized public school? Or about living in settings where they are never allowed outdoors because of fear of crime? Someone stuck inside the house all the time might use video games as a distraction, but the mental health issues may not be due to the video but rather caused by being cooped up indoors.
Seventh, even if some games tend to make people more aggressive, that is not the same as having a mental health problem. How is the money actually going to help anyone?
Eighth, if we really believe these games are dangerous, then isn’t making money off them an implicit endorsement. If I believed that video games caused my child to be killed by a mass shooter, the legislature’s decision to increase revenue for mental health services, would only anger me. And, furthermore, I’ve had a few experiences in Missouri to become fairly certain that dumping some more money into these services means increasing the income of some government contractors who will in turn support the state politicians who got them the loot.
Sandy Hook is already being exploited enough. This doesn’t do justice to the real evil involved in the murders of those children.