[FoRK] Dr. Phil says video games killed those students today.

Stephen D. Williams <sdw at lig.net> on Mon Apr 16 22:59:11 PDT 2007

Whenever someone kills a group, it is a great tragedy.  Complaining that 
it was too easy for them to do it is ignoring that they shouldn't have 
lost control in the first place.  The power of individuals is going to 
go up, not down.  Robotics, nanotechnology, power technology, 
biotechnology, etc. are all heading toward very powerful and relatively 
accessible capabilities to do great good and great harm.  Somehow, we 
have to protect people better from running off the rails, monitor and 
respond faster to those in trouble, and do what we can to limit damage.  
Trying to disempower everyone in a society but the few who are in charge 
is a lost cause, regressive, and never going to work in the future.

Are video games to blame?  Maybe, in a sense, but so, in a similar 
sense, are the movie making industry with hyper-violent and graphic 
pulp, governments for having wars, religions for directing people to 
violence, conservatives for trying to limit sex (pushing us from our 
bonobo side to be more like chimpanzees), etc.  The lack of a workable 
life philosophy, as we were just discussing, is a big problem.  These 
people have to be confused about priorities in life to do this kind of 

I forgot to point out that disarming the US will, now, never happen for 
the following reasons:

   1. Gun culture is too much a part, overall, of US culture.  Possibly
      not in Northeastern urban areas, but certainly in rural and the
   2. The world is becoming more scary and confrontational, not less. 
      Being able to confront any kind of insurgent with firepower is
      something that won't be given up, even if it's just a fantasy at
      this point.
   3. The UK just proved that strict gun control doesn't work, and this
      from a society that had practically zero gun-based murders a
      century ago.
   4. The legal interpretation has matured to clarify the
      constitutionality of gun ownership, especially for home
      protection.  The very strict gun control law in DC, which totally
      outlawed handguns, was overturned recently, at least as far as
      guns-in-the-house-for-protection.  The city leaders are outraged
      and vow to appeal, but it doesn't look good for them.
   5. Criminals will always have firepower.
   6. It is totally impractical.

I've never owned a gun, and that's probably good considering unstable 
teenagers and an unstable ex-wife, but I have no problem with it and, 
someday, I probably will own one.

I came up with the idea of a combination-locked gun back in 1988 or so.  
That still seems like the best solution: a gun only you can fire.

In the case of someone berserk, the only solution is for at least a 
small but substantial number of people around to be armed and ready to 
take out the malfunctioning unit fast.  Of course, mistakes will be 
made, probably enough for people to argue about overall effectiveness, 
but in an actual case like this one, there are few solutions.


Stephen D. Williams wrote:
> ...
>> Cultural differences and more-permissive legal standards 
>> notwithstanding, the English rate of violent crime has been soaring 
>> since 1991. Over the same period, America's has been falling 
>> dramatically. In 1999 The Boston Globe reported that the American 
>> murder rate, which had fluctuated by about 20 percent between 1974 
>> and 1991, was "in startling free-fall." We have had nine consecutive 
>> years of sharply declining violent crime. As a result the English and 
>> American murder rates are converging. In 1981 the American rate was 
>> 8.7 times the English rate, in 1995 it was 5.7 times the English 
>> rate, and the latest study puts it at 3.5 times.
>> Preliminary figures for the U.S. this year show an increase, although 
>> of less than 1 percent, in the overall number of violent crimes, with 
>> homicide increases in certain cities, which criminologists attribute 
>> to gang violence, the poor economy, and the release from prison of 
>> many offenders. Yet Americans still enjoy a substantially lower rate 
>> of violent crime than England, without the "restraint on personal 
>> liberty" English governments have seen as necessary. Rather than 
>> permit individuals more scope to defend themselves, Prime Minister 
>> Tony Blair's government plans to combat crime by extending those 
>> "restraints on personal liberty": removing the prohibition against 
>> double jeopardy so people can be tried twice for the same crime, 
>> making hearsay evidence admissible in court, and letting jurors know 
>> of a suspect's previous crimes.
> Wow, I guess we will have to call it "Olde English Law".
> sdw

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