ACLU warns against blaming video games for Newtown tragedy too quickly

In wake of the shootings in Newtown, Conn., Legislative Counsel Gabe Rottman of the American Civil Liberties Union warns that rushing to place the blame on violent video games leads to "the worst facts, and they will make the worst laws if we let them."

The American Civil Liberties Union, shortened as ACLU, is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization that aims to preserve individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States. Rottman's article, titled "Worst Facts Make Worst Law with Violent Video Games," urges readers to not move too quicky due to "lingering trauma" and that pinpointing the cause of violence is no easy task.

"The problem is," Rottman writes, "without a mind-reading device, it's virtually impossible to identify a causal link between exposure to media and any kind of action in the real world."

Rottman points out that many people today play video games. "Simply pointing out that some people who play video games commit violent acts is like saying that because people in prison like television, television must cause crime," Rottman said.

"... Parents are the ones who need to supervise their children's consumption of media"

He continues to argue that violent people being drawn to violent games is more of a chicken-and-egg dilemma that falls back on effectiveness.

"It suggests that even if you prevent kids from playing violent video games, you won't prevent violence," Rottman said. " ... But it's also worth reflecting on why it might actually be unwise to let anyone other than parents make decisions about children's access to depictions of violence."

If depictions of violence have cultural, literary and social importance, they shouldn't be policed by government, Rottman says. He uses Lord of the Flies, a required reading by many schools that includes child-on-child violence, as an example.

"The bottom line is that both the functional problem and the fact that violent video games might actually have some social value suggest strongly that parents are the ones who need to supervise their children's consumption of media," Rottman said.

More from Polygon

Hearthstone: Naxxramas Overview

  • Oddworld: New 'N' Tasty - Overview video

  • Destiny's beta comparison video: PS4 versus Xbox One

  • The Crew closed beta - Overview video

  • Polygon goes to Poland

Latest Discussions

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.



Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.