Australia has a rather embarrassing history of government-lead censorship. No other developed first-world country has banned a comparable number of literary publications, and our record on films and interactive mediums is equally as embarrassing.
With K-Mart and Target recently removing Grand Theft Auto 5 from their shelves in response to a change.org petition, we’re again confronted with our nation’s ugly history of nonsensical censorship.
But before we consider the factors influencing our current climate of censorship, let’s first take a look at the situation in question.
A quick overview of the change.org petition will give you a general theme: ‘I have been mistreated by men, this game encourages the same type of misogynistic violence and rape that I have experienced: ban it’.
Interestingly enough, the petition offers no empirical evidence to support its claims whatsoever; it is entirely subjective and based entirely on personal experience. While in day-to-day, personal activity this may be enough to shape your personal behaviour and opinion, it is most certainly not appropriately supported to invoke a form of censorship that affects the personal freedoms of an entire nation.
So what of empirical, peer-reviewed studies? The vast majority of studies that delve into the link between violent video games and increased aggression have overwhelmingly focused on the teenage demographic, which seems to ignore the fact that the average gamer is closer to age 40 than they are to age 16. Yet the ignorance toward the actual age demographic of gamers is quite reasonable: grown adults are simply not as susceptible to violent action through known fantasy as people [teenagers] still deeply rooted in their developmental phases of cognition.
Even still, there is no scholarly consensus that suggests a link between violent video games and violent behaviour in the real world.
The following is an excerpt from a study abstract compiled by Christopher John Ferguson, published in Psychiatric Quarterly, Dec. 2007, which over-viewed numerous previous studies on the subject and accounted for publication bias:
December 2007, Volume 78, Issue 4, pp 309-316
Date: 04 Oct 2007
The Good, The Bad and the Ugly: A Meta-analytic Review of Positive and Negative Effects of Violent Video Games
Once corrected for publication bias, studies of video game violence provided no support for the hypothesis that violent video game playing is associated with higher aggression. However playing violent video games remained related to higher visuospatial cognition (r x = 0.36). Results from the current analysis did not support the conclusion that violent video game playing leads to aggressive behavior. However, violent video game playing was associated with higher visuospatial cognition. It may be advisable to reframe the violent video game debate in reference to potential costs and benefits of this medium.
Even if we are to grant that teenagers are more susceptible to violent behaviour as a result of playing violent video games, we are neglecting one important aspect of the discussion: Australians fought a long and arduous battle to have an R Classification Rating added to videogames – effectively providing adults their deserved freedom to purchase and indulge in adult material. It was perhaps the destruction of the one remaining remnant of our country’s embarrassing history of censorship, and a clear victory for the freedom and liberty of society at large.
What we are faced with now is not government-lead censorship. We are being lead down a path of censorship headed by the sensitivities of society’s fringe. It is perhaps the antithesis of free-market capitalism, and most certainly democracy: the majority is being dictated to by the fringe, and the more moderate minority is being forced to assign support to the fringe because of the staunch possession of the ethical and moral high ground that they have so self-assuredly assumed. Empirical evidence be damned, of course.
And yet the culture of the country – headed by this ‘progressive’, ultra left-wing fringe of lunatics – is far more observable than solely within this single incident. The Greens, a political party that could very well be defined as fringe itself, has backed a boycott in our free-market against ‘gender based’ toys. This is a boycott run on some of the most flimsy, contradictory and non-empirical evidence around – yet it’s fueled and funded by a fringe with an agenda and thus it manages to masquerade as a truth which cannot be denied.
Public forums of debate and the expectation of free speech and discussion that were once so critical to the civil progress of our nation, are often being shied away from by people with rational and constructive input, out of the simple fear that the fringe instils into society through their remarkably misguided claims to the moral high ground. You racist, you bigot, you sexist, you misogynist, you homophobe, you Islamophobe. Evidence be damned.
This is no longer progress, this is the stifling of progress.
Perhaps before these Social Justice Warriors decide to dictate to us their moral and ethical high ground; perhaps before they shut down our public debate forums by making topics entirely taboo; and perhaps before they ruin our free-markets, they should consider very thoroughly the individual liberties and freedoms that shaped our civilized nation in order to even allow them their misguided, totalitarian opinion. Because in the end, all they’re doing with their holier-than-thou masquerade, is unraveling the centuries of progress that provided them the framework to be the very loud-mouthed crackpots that they are.