Last week a Connecticut action group going by the name of SouthingtonSOS held a video game burning event where local citizens were encouraged to bring various forms of violent media to be burned in a dumpster, no doubt a reaction to the recent Connecticut shooting.
I wish I could say I am surprised about this, but sadly the whole media frenzy surrounding violence in video games and movies reminds me of something that already happened once and profoundly affected the media it was accusing: Comic books.
During the early days of comic books, things occasionally got a little risqué. EC Horror comics in particular delighted in rendering extremely gruesome images and disturbing themes in their comics, which were being sold to children unbeknownst to their parents (because naive parents at the time had no reason to suspect comics might contain "inappropriate" material). However all that changed in 1954.
German-American psychiatrist Fredric Wertham was upset about how disturbing some of those comics could be, and he hypothesized that the corrupt images and morals being presented in comic books were responsible for corrupt children and teenagers. Fredric wrote a book called Seduction of the Innocent which "exposed" these disturbing comics to those naive parents, which in turn kickstarted a moral panic in the US.
There were book burnings, several court battles, and practically every comic book series ceased printing except the 3 main DC series Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. Seduction of the Innocent literally stopped the comic book industry dead in it's tracks. They had to invent "decency" standards called the Comics Code Authority in order to self censor their content and prevent further censorship actions and lawsuits, which is why comic books from the 50's onward were so boring.
If you ever wondered why we still joke to this day about Batman and Robin potentially having homosexual overtones, or speculate that Wonder Woman is a lesbian... this is why. Seduction of the Innocent had a profound effect on the comic book industry, one which it is still fighting to get out of almost 50 years later. I don't want to see the same thing happen to video games and movies, and the fact that people are unironically having "burnings" scares the crap out of me.
I don't think you should fight violence in the media by trying to outright ban and censor it into non-existence, just like how I don't think you should fight piracy by punishing innocent users with laborious piracy protection software. If you love video games and violent movies, you should make sure that you're being heard loud and clear that this sort of behavior is irrational and ignores the real problem. History tends to repeats itself, but we have the opportunity right now to prevent it from doing so by being smart, intelligent, and rational. Here's hoping we do the right thing in the end.
Listening to: Escapist Podcast
Watching: The Adventures of Mark Twain
Playing: Harvest Moon 3D: A New Beginning