In the days following the Sandy Hook shootings in Connecticut, I started to think about the many ways in which popular culture – the movies and video games specifically – would be blamed for this tragedy. Sure enough, people started appearing on news networks and writing columns for newspapers describing how this terrible event and others could have been prevented if America didn't digest so much violent entertainment. It's an old argument.
In fact, as I write this, a group in Connecticut is organizing a drive to collect and destroy violent video games. This is the natural course of events that follows such mass murders in our nation. While I can agree that these violent acts occur far too often – once is more than enough – I do not blame video games, movies or television shows. Neither do the experts. The latest study was published in The Atlantic.
I started to do some research for facts I could use to make my point that pop culture shouldn't be the scapegoat for the violent tendencies of a few people. In doing so, I ran across a column from author Stephen Marche for Esquire magazine, titled "Why Culture Is Never Responsible For Mass Murder." His thoughts mirror mine, and I certainly couldn't have written anything on this topic as well as he does, so I am sharing his article with you. I encourage you to read it and to share your thoughts with us here.
The best way to begin to tackle gun violence in this country is to talk about it. Most people – most politicians – avoid the subject entirely. It only becomes part of our national discourse when tragedy strikes. Well, by then it is too late. We must examine this issue constantly and with an open mind. The reactionary blame game gets us nowhere.
My thoughts and prayers go out to all the Sandy Hook victims and their families and friends.
Update (1/9/12): Connecticut town cancels plans to destroy video games.