Irish Voice founder Niall O'Dowd has penned a column blaming the murder of six people in Arizona on violent media, particularly videogames, where "the law is to kill or be killed."
Much has been made about the fact that 22-year-old Jared Loughner, who killed six people and wounded 14 more in Arizona last week, was a gamer. Playing videogames is probably one of the most mundanely normal things about him, yet some people seem determined to draw a connection between his gaming and his murderous rampage. One of the most heavy-handed among them is O'Dowd, who wrote yesterday that violent media "likely caused the crazed killer to go off."
After beginning with criticism of modern movies, he turns his attention to the game industry. "Don't even mention the videogames kids play," he wrote on IrishCentral. "The law of the games is to kill or be killed and if you haven't accumulated a hundred or so bodies by the end of the game, then you have been a waste of space."
"One thing for sure, we will find that the killer was desensitized to violence by movies and video games that proclaim it is cool and worth watching," he added.
He said that while many people have pointed the finger at Republicans for spreading hate speech and contributing to the toxic environment that led to the shooting, "Hollywood liberals," the National Rifle Association and the game industry all have a hand in the killing.
"Those major corporations who manufacture the video games and pretend, like the NRA they have nothing to do with the spread of violence in this country. They too need to look in the mirror if they dare to," he wrote. "I won't hold my breath, but every time I think of that little nine year old girl killed in Arizona I ask myself if these games are just harmless fun as the movie makers and manufacturers would have us believe."
"I think not," he continued. "Like the NRA the makers know in their hearts that they too had a role in background to the deaths last weekend."
Of course, nobody knows why Loughner did what he did. A Wall Street Journal report portrays him as a deeply disturbed young man whose troubled behavior can be traced back several years, to at least the tenth grade. And while everybody has an opinion, O'Dowd can't be dismissed as just another noisemaker with a website. He played a role in establishing the Belfast Agreement in the Northern Ireland peace process, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by University College Dublin and was made an adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. The official launch of IrishCentral.com in 2009 was attended by Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen.
It's a pity that someone with such an impressive background can't wait for some facts and evidence to emerge before drawing iron-clad, "for sure" conclusions about the role videogames played in making this massacre happen.