In Quist seeks dramatic political upset victory, Josh Moniz' latest Allen Quist article in the New Ulm Journal, we read:
With the Legislature proposing several new gun control bills, Quist has stepped forward to present himself as a strong opponent of the bills, even traveling to one of the hearings as a show of support. He said research by John Lott shows that control measures have no impact on violence. Lott's research since publication has been discredited by several scientific journals and it has even been accused of fabricating its facts. He said attention needs to instead be focused on other areas, such as the correlation between school shooters and violent video games.
"We really need to see if we can do something about violent video games," said Quist, "They are a serious concern."
People don't kill people, video games do.
Quist certainly hasn't lost his touch since the days when he proposed instituting abstinence-based sex ed as a plan to lower crime. In the December 22, 1993, Star Tribune article, "Quist twist on crime mixes liberal tenets with conservative," Dane Smith reported:
The biggest causes behind the rising crime rate, Quist emphasized, is "promiscuity" and a resulting explosion in single-family parents over the past 10 years. One of his key proposals is an "abstinence-based" sex education program in the schools. . . .(Nexis All-News, accessed 2/10/2013)
Bluestem's readers of coarse sensibilities can write their own jokes about the effects of video-game withdrawal in joyless young boys. We simply couldn't comment.
Rather, we look to the available research on playing violent games and acting out in real life. In December, Bloomberg News reported in Violent video games under scrutiny after Newtown, Conn. school shootings:
. . .Past studies have failed to demonstrate a link between violent games and real violence, said Christopher Ferguson, an associate professor of psychology and communications at Texas A&M International University in Laredo, Texas. Policy makers should focus on more important issues including gun control and mental health, he said in an interview.
“We can’t find any evidence to support this idea that exposure to video-game violence contributes in any way to support the idea that these types of games or movies or TV shows are a contributing factor,” Ferguson said. “It doesn’t need to be studied again.”
Other news venues filed more nuanced accounts. On January 17, Suzy Khimm of the Washington Post WonkBlog wrote in POW! CRACK! What we know about video games and violence that Ferguson pointed out that "“video games have become more popular and more violent, while youth violence has declined.”
But though there’s been a wide range of academic research on the subject, there’s little to no conclusive evidence that playing video games results in real-life violence, much less criminal acts. In 2011, the Supreme Court struck down a California law restricting the sale and rental of violent video games to minors in a 7-2 ruling. The majority cited the state of existing research in its opinion:
Psychological studies purporting to show a connection between exposure to violent video games and harmful effects on children do not prove that such exposure causes minors to act aggressively. Any demonstrated effects are both small and indistinguishable from effects produced by other media…California also cannot show that the Act’s restrictions meet the alleged substantial need of parents who wish to restrict their children’s access to violent videos.
. . .In one 2012 article for the Journal of Psychiatric Research, Ferguson and his co-authors examined 165 participants over three years and found that playing violent video games was not linked to youth aggression or dating violence. Instead, they found that “depression, antisocial personality traits, exposure to family violence and peer influences were the best predictors of aggression-related outcomes.”
That said, there is evidence that violent video games may have a tendency to make children who are already aggressive more hostile and more aggressive — at least in the context of playing a video game, Ferguson explains. “Openly aggressive children tend to intensify their preference for games with a brutal and bloody plot over time,” researchers wrote in a 2011 article for Media Psychology that examined 324 German grade-schoolers over one year. Ferguson points to another 2011 study from the American Psychological Association that found that video games were linked to aggression but not for the reasons you might expect. “It appears that competition, not violence, may be the video game characteristic that has the greatest inﬂuence on aggressive behavior,” the researchers conclude. .. .
And there's this, also from January from MSN Video game makers urge Biden not to blame games for real violence:
The letters from the International Game Developers Association and the Entertainment Consumers Associationpointed out that numerous studies have already been done showing that there is no causal link between game violence and real violence.
"In 2011, video game sales increased to over $27 billion dollars and violent crimes nationwide decreased 3.8 percent from 2010," Mercurio wrote, pointing to the FBI's own statistics. "Since 2002, violent crime has decreased 15.5 percent. This is all during the time when games like 'Call of Duty' and 'Halo' have dominated sales."
But the letter from Greenberg, of the International Game Developers Association, supported the idea of additional studies about video games.
"Unlike some industry groups, the IGDA does not seek to impede more scientific study about our members’ products. We welcome more evidence-based research into the effects of our work," he wrote, but added: "We ask that any new government research look at the totality of imaginary violence. Instead of simply trying to find negative effects, we ask that any new research explore the benefits of violent video games, too."
So perhaps we could violate the Constitution when it comes to video games. Bluestem suspects that our gamer friends would no more part with their "Call of Duty" games than Representative Cornish would surrender his coyote rifle.
Or we spend more money on studying the industry rather than hiring more school counselors (Minnesota ranks 48th out of 50 states in its student–to–school counselor ratio). Or something.
Read the rest of Moniz's article at the New Ulm Journal.
The Minnesota House District 19A special election is Tuesday, February 12; the district in
Photo: Found on the Facebook page of Minnesota State University -- Mankato political science professor Joe Kunkel, these two literature pieces appear to be time travelers from the campaigns of Quist and DFL candidate Clark Johnson from the 1980s (they ran for different seats under earlier districting and never faced off against each other before). Bluestem is unable to verify the historical veracity of the facial hair on either gentleman. The lit pieces--and the beards--are for real and featured in Mankato Free Press political reporter Mark Fischenich's Campaign Notebook: Special election hits the home stretch. Much wonderfulness in the article. Go read it.
If you enjoyed reading this post, consider giving a donation via paypal: