You may remember some incident in the news where a criminal is said to have played a first person shooter game and the media starts pointing fingers -- not at the criminal, but at the game. Perhaps it goes with the need for an answer to the always-asked question: "Why did you do it?". Gaming isn't the only medium to receive this treatment though. Music is often associated with the cause behind violence as well.
And now, some of you may have heard about the issues with sexually explicit material in gaming, written/drawn works, and visual novels in Japan. There is a certain amount of interest in seeing some of the more obscene or grotesque versions of these games either banned or made illegal. Whether or not either banning or illegalization will actually take place remains to be seen (in all likelihood they will not be), but one thing is clear to me personally; it's very sad anyone would consider banning/illegalizing these things, and even more sad if it actually happens. A foreboding snowball effect looms over this concept like a fist of doom.
Why? Well, I believe it is wrong.
I personally believe people who commit violent or illegal acts should not shift the blame onto something or some one else. I believe they are violent people and criminals, regardless. And more importantly, I do not believe the people who create art/games/music should be blamed for another person's violent or criminal acts.
I can safely say that I've been exposed to graphical violence, drugs, and violent music. Yet, I am not a violent person, nor am I a drug addict. Just like people who become violent; I feel that people who become addicts are simply that: drug addicts. They are not the victim, they are the criminal.
I also think that illegalizing the obscene/violent material will only cause harm, not good. It is as though we are saying that the person who is influenced by the material is the victim, and the criminal is the one who created the material. And I truly, honestly, completely disagree with that. Here is what I think you're actually doing when you illegalize such material:
1) You are making the person who commits a crime after experiencing this material a victim, not a criminal.
2) You penalize people who aren't negatively influenced by this material the right to access it.
3) You are making the creators and distributors of this material criminals when they are not.
Unfortunately, the only way I can explain what I mean is to go over it by case. I want to talk about how this effects gaming, but I must first talk about drugs since they are widely illegal.
What happens when you illegalize a drug is make the creators and distributors criminals. The police and DEA don't target drug users so much, but rather their goal is to find the distributors and creators. Occasionally they will hunt down users, but they will offer them bargains in order to gain information on distributors. What they are doing is treating the people who make and sell drugs as the problem. Drug users are often just put in rehabilitation, treated as victims of an addiction to illicit material. Basically it's like saying the world needs to protect people from bad influences by criminalizing the ones that make it available.
In a way it's like illegalizing alcohol, wherein you penalize the people who are able to consume alcohol responsibly and not be negatively effected by it or negatively effect anyone else. And, when you illegalize it, you are suggesting that a person who abuses alcohol and causes a car accident was more of a victim of alcohol, rather than being a criminal who was unable to responsibly drink without becoming a danger to themselves and others. You also, of course, make breweries and distributors criminals for no reason.
Now, imagine what that would mean if they were to illegalize explicit/violent art or writing? That would mean artists and distributors are the criminals supplying the public with a bad influence. And, that would mean that the lunatic that murdered some one because they were supposedly inspired by a book would probably be offered a bargain in order to gain information on distributors. That's right, the murderer isn't the criminal, but a victim.
This could also happen to gaming. If a game is banned/illegalized it sends the message that what authors are doing is wrong and that players need to be protected from illicit material found in games.
Music and drugs are different though.
First of all, if a person purchases and listens to a violent sounding music album, and then goes and commits a crime, I believe that person would have been a criminal anyway, with or without the album's influence. Because I know that if I listened to the same album then I won't commit any crimes.
On the other hand, concerts are a different ballpark. At a concert it's not just the music, but also the environment and the people there. I highly doubt you'd ever see people moshing at a violin recital, but it happens at punk rocker and heavy metal shows. But to me, it is not the music or the artists that are to blame, but rather peer pressure. When surrounded by a group of like-minded individuals, one is more easily influenced and more willing to do things they would otherwise not do. A person might do something to impress their peers, or may suggest something to their peers and some one acts on the suggestion. If you were to hear the messages "You should punch some one.", it could be easily brushed off with a laugh; but in a large group of angry violent people if that messaged is played then some one is likely to actually do it.
Drugs, however, actually effect a person's mental state. Additionally, they contain addictive chemicals. It isn't just that the experience is so enjoyable that a person would want to do it again, but really a chemical that makes them want to.
In the end, I believe drugs have plenty of logical reasons to be illegal. But art, writing, music, and video games should never be banned or illegal. In a way, I guess I am saying that I believe in the freedom of speech.
By the way, happy 4th of July to all you Americans out there.
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