Is it only violent people who fear video game violence?
Yes, that’s right, Leland Yee, defender of California’s children from the scourge of simulated violence by day was also Leland Yee, purveyor of items expressly intended to be used for real violence by night.
Naturally, firearms groups immediately denounced Yee as a hypocrite, given this crusades against gun rights in the Legislature. I want to focus more on Yee’s nauseating crusade against violence in video games, which ultimately got him slapped down by no less an eminence than Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Indeed, Yee’s example beautifully illustrates some the flawed logic deployed by opponents of video game violence.
There is one very revealing quote from Yee on this subject that (obviously) predates his recent embarrassment:
“Gamers have got to just quiet down,” Yee, D-San Francisco, said in an interview Tuesday. “Gamers have no credibility in this argument. This is all about their lust for violence and the industry’s lust for money. This is a billion-dollar industry. This is about their self-interest.”
Now, I challenge anyone who reads this in the context of Yee’s current predicament not to burst into incredulous laughter. Aside from the metric tonnes of irony, one can see how someone who allegedly allows his lust for money to turn him into a conduit for others’ lust for violence would assume that gamers have the same mentality.
And Yee isn’t the only anti-video game crusader to have been outed as a dangerous fraud, though he’s certainly the most lurid one. There’s also the case of Florida-based anti-video game activist and former attorney Jack Thompson, who was disbarred (to quote the actual court decision) on grounds that:
(4) respondent publicized and sent hundreds of pages of vitriolic and disparaging missives, letters, faxes, and press releases, to the affected individuals;
(5) respondent targeted an individual who was not involved with respondent in any way, merely due to “the position [the individual] holds in state and national politics;”
(6) respondent falsely, recklessly, and publicly accused a judge as being amenable to the “fixing” of cases;
(7) respondent sent courts inappropriate and offensive sexual materials;
(8) respondent falsely and publicly accused various attorneys and their clients of engaging in a conspiracy/enterprise involving “the criminal distribution of sexual materials to minors” and attempted to get prosecuting authorities to charge these attorneys and their clients for racketeering and extortion; […]
(10) respondent retaliated against attorneys who filed Bar complaints against him for his unethical conduct by asserting to their clients, government officials, politicians, the media, female lawyers in their law firm, employees, personal friends, acquaintances, and their wives, that the attorneys were criminal Case Nos. SC07-80 and SC07-354 Page Three pornographers who objectify women.
Among the targets of Thompson’s stupidity, as a note of interest, was current American Conservative Union President Al Cardenas.
The fact that these two high profile opponents of video game violence were both such deeply flawed men might raise troubling questions. At least, they would, to someone like Jack Thompson or Leland Yee. There is about as much evidence that opponents of video game violence are themselves closeted psychopaths as there is that Doom for th Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold’s killing spree at Columbine High School.
The evil of men like Yee and Thompson would be an outlier in any community they might belong to, and needs to be treated as such, rather than masked with logically fallacious scapegoating. Applying the faulty logic that both Yee and Thompson employed in warning that every video gamer might potentially be a school shooter, one would inescapably conclude that every anti-video game violence crusader could potentially be a sordid criminal. If we reject that formulation in the one case, we must reject it in the other.
One only hopes the next time someone tries to spin the same discredited story as Thompson and Yee, they’ll remember that it cuts both ways.