Less than two days after its release, vicariously cathartic violence-fest Grand Theft Auto IV has drawn the ire of Mothers Against Drunk Driving - a special-interest group whose name explains its mission, and attorney Jack Thompson - a Christian conservative who has vociferously condemned violence- and sex-filled video games like GTA. MADD have called upon GTA developer Rockstar Games to cease distribution of the game, citing alleged irresponsibility on Rockstar's end by releasing a game that permits players to consume alcoholic beverages and get behind the wheel. Thompson, who has long been a vocal adversary of the hit game series, is actively prodding a Florida U.S. attorney to sue Take-Two - Rockstar's parent company - and retailers who sell the game - including Wal-Mart, GameStop, and Best Buy - citing the pornographic and violent content as a mechanism for the destruction of traditional Christian values. He even goes so far as to compare the Grand Theft Auto series to the Polio virus, saying "Grand Theft Auto IV is the gravest assault upon children in this country since Polio...It will make you sick." Rockstar has politely declined MADD's demands, and no comment has been released in response to Thompson's assault.
I don't/won't do this often, but I'm gonna go Op-Ed here - as I feel this is an important enough topic to offer my own viewpoint. It would be irresponsible and incorrect for me to say that America hasn't been experiencing a growing number of crimes committed by children or young adults. And, while it's fair to say that some of those kids may have been influenced by movies, TV, music, and video games, we are doing those same youngsters a disservice by heaping the greater part of the blame upon the media en masse, as MADD and Jack Thompson are doing. The real problem is that these kids were never given the tools to properly work with traditionally "adult" content - and the blame for that can ONLY be foisted upon their parents. It's true that a growing number of children grow up in single-parent households, but so did I. I watched RoboCop and the WWF, played violent video games and certainly viewed more than my fair share of pornographic content - but I never stole a car, killed or raped anyone, or tried to emulate in any way the terrible behavior exhibited by the characters in the media. Why? Because I was taught from the very beginning about right and wrong - and the behaviors associated with those descriptors. Raising their children is the most important job any parent will ever have, and it's very clear that many have not accepted the inherent responsibilities of parenthood. Parents MUST resume teaching their children to exhibit respect for other people and their property, to think before acting, and to understand that "bad" behaviors can and will carry serious repercussions. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" - those words have never been more appropriate.