Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan. 21, 2011 16 Shevat, 5771

Would James Madison Play Video Games?

By Suzanne Fields




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | If we've learned one lesson from the massacre in Tucson, it's that cause and effect are poor guides to explain human behavior.

"Let us remember," President Obama said at the memorial service, "it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy. It did not." Those last three important little words were not in his speech when he stood up to deliver it. He added them during delivery because he knows the importance of staunching false blame. Rhetoric can make connections that reality must undo.

False cause and effect connections can be fatal, for example, in scientific research. The Lancet, once a highly respected British journal, ran a fraudulent article claiming that a successful vaccine for preventing measles, mumps and rubella causes autism. As a result, immunization rates fell precipitously in Great Britain, and 40 percent of American parents delayed or declined to vaccinate their children despite convincing evidence that they were safe and effective.

The latest cause and effect controversy is over violent video games. The games weren't indicted as a cause of the violence in Tucson, but the concern of parents and teachers over video violence has been taken up by the Supreme Court.

Unlike violent movies or television programs, which are bad enough, the games make maiming and mayhem look like fun. Crime often pays. You don't go to prison for killing video characters, you earn extra points. Despite these obvious conclusions, we should beware a rush to judgment and censorship. False cures dash false hopes.

At issue is a California law that imposes a $1,000 fine for selling or renting a violent video game to a minor. Like every idea that threatens freedom of speech, the law punishes the portrayal of gruesome behavior and imposes on the courts the responsibility for interpreting content that lacks serious literary, artistic, political and scientific content. You don't have to study the history of censorship to realize that what's permissible and what's not lies, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder.

Several of the justices, conservative and liberal, raised questions for the lawyers in the oral arguments. Justice Antonin Scalia, dismissing comparisons with obscenity, said that a law that carries criminal penalties must be clear, and he wanted to know how a manufacturer can tell if a particular game is covered by the law: "The ratifiers of the Constitution always understood that freedom of speech did not protect obscenity. But it has never been understood that freedom of speech allowed punishment for portrayals of violence."

Justice Samuel Alito tried a little humor. "I think what Justice Scalia wants to know is what James Madison thought about video games." Retorted Mr. Scalia: "No, I want to know what James Madison thought about violence."

Justice Elena Kagan observed that half of the law clerks at the Supreme Court spent hours in their adolescence playing "Mortal Combat," a popular martial-arts game that by the law's ambiguous standards could be targeted (to employ a violent metaphor) by the California law.

Fairy tales are often brutal but can help a child sublimate feelings of aggression. Depictions of violence in our culture have gone way past what the Founding Fathers could have imagined, but is it possible to say that a specific game is more likely to affect behavior than the cumulative aggressive messages in television, movies, lyrics ... and life?

The strongest risk factors for violence in children remain mental instability and an unstable home environment. But there are common-sense approaches to reducing risks. Video game equipment could be kept out of a child's room and strict limits imposed on gaming at home. Adults should play video games with their kids, as painful as that would be for both parties, to learn what the games are about.

What's especially hard for parents as they move from the written word to the digital world is to see how certain video games can build positive skills for children, even beyond good hand-eye coordination. Research suggests the games increase mental dexterity, problem-solving ability and strategic thinking.

When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asked whether the state of California has an agency to provide advisory opinions on whether a particular game would come under the law, she was told it didn't. Justice Scalia suggested that the state could establish one to be called the "California Office of Censorship." Another cause and effect to avoid.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


Comment on JWR contributor Suzanne Fields' column by clicking here.

Up

Suzanne Fields Archives

© 2006, Creators Syndicate, Suzanne Fields

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles