With increasing numbers of people bleeding to death in US streets, the president has to find someone something anything! to blame

Scientific studies do not find any links between video games and gun violence. The claim that they do has been repeatedly tested, studied and debunked.

Yet on Monday, US president Donald Trump insisted that gruesome and grisly video games were causative in the gun massacre deaths of 22 people in El Paso and another 9 in Dayton (not Toledo) Ohio.

Why scapegoat video games and demonise the people who play them? My dudes, why not?

Its established that science, expertise, evidence and the truth are not dominant themes of the Trump presidency, and with increasing numbers of people bleeding to death in US streets, he has to find someone something anything! to blame that isnt the real reason. You know, that restrictions on the purchase of guns in America are so lax, you can just walk in and buy one at Walmart, a local store, a gun show or from a friend or neighbour. You can keep an assassination list, be a convicted petty felon or an extremist who dreams of a race war on Facebook, and still get legal hands on a gun.

Trump has heavy investment in that laxity. Just before the 2016 election, he dared those second-amendment people remember? to act against Hillary Clinton if she attempted legislative gun control. The New York Times reported: Mr Trump and his campaign did not treat his remark as a joke; instead, they insisted he was merely urging gun rights supporters to vote as a bloc against Mrs Clinton.

People make a lot of claims about Trumps intelligence, but in no context is the man stupid enough to piss off the (heavily armed) people he himself has fired up.

So hes blaming video games. Its not even the most insulting wad of baloney smeared by apologists for an uncontrollable gun lobby over this lethal American moment. A Republican state congressional representative is out there insisting the preventable carnage is due to the nefarious influence of drag queens.

Unlike drag queens, at least one or two small studies have concluded violent video games can provoke increased aggression. This correlates to my own experience I play violent video games and readily testify to an adrenalin burst that attends the mowing down of mutants, killer robots and the digital undead. The feeling probably registers at about 10% of the hostility and rage with which I respond to seeing Trump demonise gamers because he is unwilling or uninterested to enact meaningful gun control.

In fact, the night Trump was elected, I grappled for my PlayStation console and poured my disappointment into a zombie bloodbath a safe, immersive place to expend emotional energy in a way that would have zero consequences in a real world of human beings. If Trumps ilk appreciated anything about popular culture, high art or low, theyd know that it was precisely for reasons of processing emotions that early humanity invented things like the theatre, the entertainment from which video games draw their inheritance.

If Trump really is concerned about the influence of video games, I expect his condemnations of Shakespeare to appear forthwith, given that cultural desensitisation to the violence of that entertainment is forced on children in schools. Theres lots of shooting in Call of Duty, but Id suggest the forced removal of eyeballs (King Lear), mass poisonings (Hamlet), a mutilation-rape and cannibalism (Titus Andronicus) deliver bodily violations far more memorable. Then, of course, theres the Christian Bible somewhat aggressively marketed in America whose bloody moments of baby-eating (Kings 6:28-29), foreskin mutilation (Exodus 4:24-25), gang rape (Judges 19:25) appear amid many scenes of mass murder, with Genesis 34:25-29 striking for homicidal inventiveness. The history of the United States itself makes violent reading, founded as it is on the genocide of its first nations people, as well as, you know, slavery.

To be consistent, Trump really should denounce the lot. Hes not going to, because consistency and coherency are not the preserve of a leader prepared to denounce video games when he couldnt name 10. Hell condemn gaming hot off a teleprompter, but struggle to hook up an Xbox. That guy is uninterested in figures that show 60% of Americans are daily gamers, yet not 60% of the population are shooting each other. Or that 45% of American gamers are women, but 96.2% of mass shooter incidents are committed by men. Or that 70% of American parents says video games have been good for their kids. Or that these demographics of gamers are comparable in Australia, where they play the very same games but have very strict gun laws. Australia has had one mass shooter incident with an illegal firearm in one year, while the United States has had 255.

Or that not every shooter is a gamer, but what every shooting has in common is a gun.

At the time of Trumps election, much was made of how his adviser Steve Bannon energised male gamers behind Trump. Bannons propaganda victory was to mobilise a community miffed by the intrusion of feminism and other social movements into game spaces to support the white, male authoritarian Trump brand.

Well, boys, you got the authoritarianism you voted for. Now that theres blood on the streets, Trumps blaming you. The way he plays this game is not going to change. But maybe just maybe you can.

Van Badham is a Guardian Australia columnist

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

 

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