Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Brownshirts

(re-posted from The Other Blog, hat-tip: POLYGON.)

This is how it begins...

I "get" that grief is a powerful emotion that can override common sense and reason, even in the best of us. I understand that, therefore, we are expected to be deferential and sympathetic to even the most awkward, outlandish or uncomfortable expressions of grief: "Oh, it's alright. They're just upset. Let them vent." I get that... but there's a limit to everything. So, I have ZERO problem saying that the folks in Southington, Connecticut who've more-or-less decided to hold a mass-burning of "violent" video games (music and movies, too) as some kind of reaction to the tragedy in nearby Newtown are, whateve their intent, essentially painting themselves as a pack of ignorant, knuckle-dragging, reactionary cretins; and that they deserve to be called-out and shamed for what is - regardless of scale, circumstance or intent - a crime against art, culture and an affront to civilized modernity.


Southington SOS, which purports to be a charitable organization comprised of local business and community leaders set up in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre (which, just to reiterate, took place in a different community in CT) are the force behind this gesture. They put out a press release announcing it, which includes contact information for a local YMCA chairman who is apparently a spokesman for the group (I've contacted him for some clarification, awaiting response.)

Said press-release claims that it isn't trying to suggest that games are "to blame" for the shooting and that it's more interested in getting parents and their kids to "have the conversation;" though it goes to claim that "ample evidence" exists for violent media contributing to aggression, "desensitization" and the usual malarkey... without, of course, providing a source of said "ample evidence" (spoiler: that's because there isn't any.) They'll be rewarding "donations" with $25 dollar giftcards, which seems a little rotten to me since I'm more than certain the victimized town they're supposedly supporting could probably use that money... That the "returned" offending materials will be destroyed and "likely" incinerated was revealed by the Southington School Superintendent, Joe Erardi.

Like I said, these are the sorts of things that happen when people's emotions - especially grief and the impotent rage that comes with it - override common sense, and it only gets worse when it grips a community and becomes a kind of mass-pathology (see: Salem, 1692-1693). Often, the only "cure" for such circumstances is for non (or, at least, less) irrational people to hold up the mirror and point out the absurdity and wrongness of what said community is doing - sunlight, as ever, is the ultimate disinfectant. Which is why I think it's proper to publicize this event and respond (civily!) to Southington SOS; if only to let them know how much damage they're doing, image-wise, to themselves and their purported cause by engaging in such vile and wrongheaded behavior.

Note: If and when the representative I mentioned responds to my call, I will post any details/clarifications he wishes to make at my earliest ability.