Video Games

Let's Prevent Mass Violence by Making it Illegal to Fire People

For those asking the government to intervene to stop violent "triggers," where is the line?


Are they sure it was the violence that triggered aggression by players and not the awkward driving controls?
Grand Theft Auto IV

Joe Nocera at the New York Times has thrown together a perfunctory, by-the-numbers op-ed fretting about violence in film and video games that could have been written at any point in the last 20 years. I would go far to say that it has been written repeatedly for the past 20 years.

Using a Die Hard marathon and his own self-described "poking around the world of gun-crazed movies and other media" (a turn of phrase that marks Nocera as a completely unengaged tourist in the world he ostensibly lives in), Nocera calls for an assault weapons ban (without a definition of an assault weapon, of course) and engages in the hardcore research to make his case against entertainment violence by calling pop psychologists who agree with him to get quotes. Notably, his nod to "fairness" is to call a movie industry representative to speak on behalf of researchers who disagree there's a link between entertainment and violence and not actually talk to such researchers. He rather simply (and simplistically) declares that every parent understands "instinctively" that violent media causes children to become more hostile.

He gives the barest of acknowledgment that we have the First and Second Amendment to restrain the government from doing what he probably thinks is best for all of us and the slippery slope of censorship:

Craig Anderson, a psychologist at Iowa State University, told me that children who watch even something as seemingly benign as Woody Woodpecker cartoons — in which Woody often pecks on someone's head — can become temporarily more aggressive. "If you are going to start to ban media violence, where do you stop?" he asked.

Violent video games and movies, he went on to say, are certainly not the only factor that can lead someone to commit an act of gun violence. "If someone has no other risk factors, he can play Grand Theft Auto all day and never commit a violent act. But if he has a number of the other risk factors. …" Anderson let the thought hang.

Wondering why Anderson let that thought hang? Clearly we are expected to conclude that Grand Theft Auto would be the trigger to cause a violent response. But that sentence can be completed with "… then any sort of conflict in his life could trigger a violent act."

Conflict like getting fired. Violent, crazy guys really don't like getting fired from their jobs. Christopher Dorner notably did not. Andrew Engeldinger of Accent Signage Systems in Minneapolis did not like getting fired in September and killed five people (and himself). Anyone raising the specter of censorship of the media on the basis of trying to eliminate "triggers" that cause people with mental issues to snap can't stop there. Many men are able to psychologically handle the stress of being fired, but if they have a number of other risk factors … well, I'll just let that thought hang.

According to Pew Research study from 2008, 97 percent of American teens play video games. That's somewhere around 40 million (depending on how you define a teen). Even if the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings could be tied back to violent video games, or Nehemiah Griego in New Mexico allegedly murdering his family in January, these guys are statistically insignificant when compared to the entire population of those who play video games. So when critics like Nocera stroke their chins and worry about guns and violent media, it's appropriate to wonder why exactly their calls for government intervention end there. The same logic could be used to forbid employers from firing troubled and troublesome workers.

NEXT: Software Lets Governments Track People Via Social Media

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  1. Christ Shackford, don’t give them any suggestions!

    1. I’m sure Top Men are already on the case. You can’t get fired from a government job, therefore all jobs should be government jobs.

      1. Exactly. This is the great unspoken benefit of a communist society. Would we be less free and worse off economically? Sure. But if it saves ONE. SINGLE. CHILD you surely have to agree that it would be worth it.

      2. Did I ever relate the story of a person who worked on the team I work on (before I was hired) that used to shit herself senseless in her cubicle every day? According to my colleagues, it took 3 years to get her canned (she was a gubmint employee).

        1. Wait… what?!?

          She’d take a dump every day in her cubicle?

          1. Honestly, she sounds like an ideal government employee.

          2. Yep. The cleaning crew refused to go near her cube. The others who worked in the tight-quarters cube farm had to just grin & bear it for almost three fucking years (they had to go through “procedures”, donchya know. Offer the offender all kinds of counseling and medical crap and first warnings and second warnings and third warnings and fourth warnings….)

            1. We had an incident like that where I work recently. The phone center likes for reps to keep customers on as long as possible. One woman, who had bad numbers, finally got a customer to hang on for a while. The only problem was, she had to go to the bathroom. Really badly, apparently.

              1. Damn, dude. You need to find a new phone sex place to work at.

                1. You need to find a new phone sex place to work at.

                  But this is the only place where my husky voice isn’t a drawback.

            2. Did she have IBS and was therefor protected under the ADA? ‘Cause that would make things extra difficult for even a private employer.

              1. Well, I have an allergic reaction to shit on carpet. Let the ADA claims fight it out.

                1. Do you have a doctor’s note with lab results attached in triplicate? They should’ve rubber-roomed the shitter, but she probably would’ve filed a work comp claim for being ostracized for her disability.

                2. Apparently she didn’t squat on the carpet, she just sat there, day in, day out, and shat her pants and her chair. She never attempted to make a run for the bathroom – she just treated her chair like a toilet bowl.

                  I can’t imagine how many UTIs she was giving herself. *shudder*

                  1. So why did you continue to work there? Really? Someone like that in my office and I would be out the door and not coming back until she was removed and her cubicle fumigated.

                    They’re going to fire me for walking off the job under those conditions? I wanna see them try!

            3. Did they ever figure out why she was doing it? Was it just to torture the people around her?

        2. …that used to shit herself senseless in her cubicle every day?

          You paint such a beautiful picture…. please, do go on.

    2. It’ll be like France, but without the wine and unpasteurized cheese.

      1. Good lord, no! No unpasteurized cheese!

        for the children…

    3. Yeah, remember how restrictions on soft drinks were a reductio ad absurdam (sp?) argument against tobacco bans – “what’s next, are you going to restrict Pepsi, ha ha ha?”

      1. “Slippery slopes” may be labeled a logical fallacy, but they certainly are a political reality.

  2. Dorner is probably one of the only California public employees to get fired in the last 10 years.

    1. Actually I have a friend who was a cop and got fired for EXACTLY the same reason! This was in Porterville, California, notorious for small town corruption. It was routine to slam some guy on a rookie’s first day, just to see what the new guy would do. My friend refused to sign off on the bogus report and got canned on his first day on the job.

    2. Don’t forget Huy Pham the Costa Mesa City maintenance worker who jumped off of city hall after getting laid off with 199 other employees in 2011.

  3. You know who else didn’t want to be removed from his job…

    1. FDR? Bloomberg?

      Oh, hell, not much different.

    2. Brian Dunkleman?

  4. Or you can fire them, but the police will take them into to “protective” custody for a cooling off period, say 30 days. The funds for which will coming out of the fired person’s unemployment. After they are let out, probation for five years.

    1. No it will end up like public schools, any questionable comment you make will end up in criminal charges or forced counseling.

    2. Once the government is the sole employer in the country, any fireable offense would be a crime against the state.

  5. The only explanation I can think of for Nocera’s column is some weird mental health diversity quota the NYT is trying to fill.

    1. It’s not diversity when they all are morons who can neither write nor think.

    2. Except they forgot to have a representative of the sane population.

      1. That’s just ableist privilege talk.

  6. If the government has no other risk factors, it can regulate certain types of guns and magazines all day without ever committing a tyrannical act. But if it has other risk factors…

  7. Maybe if people like His Vacuous Beneficence stopped trying to tell people they are owed a job for life, regardless of qualification or proficiency, getting canned would not come as such a surprise.

    Also, this would make a super addition to the NICS questionnaire: “Are you currently employed? If not, have you lost your job in the past six weeks?”

  8. Except they forgot to have a representative of the sane population.

    Are you trying to imply Maureen Dowd is mentally unstable?

  9. Even if the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings could be tied back to violent video games, or Nehemiah Griego in New Mexico allegedly murdering his family in January, these guys are statistically insignificant when compared to the entire population of those who play video games

    Yes, but if we can save just one child, don’t we have a responsibility to act now?

    I have the plan. Every citizen should have a mandatory psychological evaluation exam once a month, for which they will be billed one half of their monthly salary. This money will go to fund the new agency, the bureau of Safety and Violence Prevention for the Children. SVPC. If the person is unemployed, they are exempt from the exam.

    The SVPC will be staffed with unaccountable bureaucrats who report to no one, and they will assign untrained and unaccountable examiners, who report to no one. If any person is suspected of dangerous behavior, such as ever having said anything, ever, on the internet, that could be construed as anti-government, or evidence is found that they have ever played a violent video game, the examiner may sentence them to mental rehabilitation for an indefinite period of time(until they are well).

    We have to implement this plan now, it’s for the children. Nothing could go wrong.

    1. Your acronym doesn’t spell anything, Iz confuzed.

      1. The Saving America’s Children from Rampages in Educational Domiciles and Creating Opportunities for Women Act of 2013 (SACREDCOW)

        1. +100, lmao

      2. Oh fer the sake of Bejeebus! I had to make all that up really fast. I didn’t have time to worry about acronyms, are you trying to kill my creative mojo? You must be a Republican.

        1. We’ll just use Wartys acronym, same program. Warty gets a free high level unaccountable bureaucrat appointment for the use of it.

    2. Why not just plug everyone’s brain into a computer, restrain them, and make them telecommute? No one will go on any violent rampages then. Oh, wait.

  10. Or, you could check you know, actual data, on violent crime rates since the introduction of violent video games 20-30 years ago and check for any correlation….

    1. How does that restrict peoples freedoms and generate revenue?

    2. You’ll never get a government grant with that kind of attitude, Mr. Scientist.

      1. Or make it into a high level government job.

    3. … and if a correlation is found, form a hypothesis and then an experiment to test the hypothesis. Oh wait, that’s the just the correct way to prove cause-effect

  11. We should only fire people that like to fire people.

  12. I’ve seen kids playing Big Planet too much turn in to shitheads. It’s not the content of the media, its a lack of parenting.

    1. The gubmint is everyones parent now. Nothing can go wrong.

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