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Video games, the scapegoat of corrupted youth

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From petty crimes to school shootings, average people and politicians are pointing their fingers at violent video games as the culprit for the criminal’s behavior instead of blaming the culprit themselves and it is time society stops playing the blame game and holds the criminal accountable for their actions, no matter what age they are.

With the recent record breaking sales of Grand Theft Auto V and the new installments in the Battlefield and Call of Duty series on the way, video game violence and the effect it has on young people are once again making headlines.  When recent crimes have involved minors and either car theft or violent acts, video games are often blamed for influencing the young person.  Even things as tragic as the movie theater shooting at the batman premier and the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre had many people pointing at violent video games as the motivation and influence for these acts.  If this was the case however, why is this not happening on a daily basis? With just Grand Theft Auto V alone, 16 million people purchased it within its first week of sales and there has not been a massive spike in murders committed by youth since its release.  Those who do commit these horrible tragedies are mentally unstable or possibly just psychopaths but because of their age, people do not want to label them as such.

[Davis Dichoso/Staff Photo]

[Davis Dichoso/Staff Photo]

The average person, or in this case gamer, is not going to play Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty and think that it is okay to mimic the games in any way.  A mentally stable person can divide reality and the virtual world in which they play.  Someone who is mentally unstable may play these games and feel like the thoughts they have about killing or stealing are being justified by the game but that is because of a very skewed viewpoint by the person, not what the game is portraying.  Most games do a great job of making the player feel emotionally uneasy when committing crime, making sure the player knows it is unrealistic, or making sure the gamer knows that the character they are playing is mentally disturbed, in order to portray that the crimes are not okay in reality.

Those who commit crimes like the Sandy Hook massacre or the cases of kids as young as 8 killing their parents are not doing these things because they played a game where they could shoot someone.  They committed these acts because they are mentally disturbed in one way or another.  Age has nothing to do with mental stability, absolute horrible acts can be committed by the youth and there is no outside source, in this case video games, that is the problem.  The person who commits the crime should be held accountable and while prison is not always going to work, serious psychiatric help is necessary.  This scapegoating of video games needs to stop. We, as a society, need to help those who are mentally ill, instead of blaming something else so that we do not have to label a child as a murderer.

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16 days to end gender violence


Sunday, November 25, 2012 is the first in 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, established in 1991 by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, to eliminate violence against women around the world. Read the full story

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Unfolding Thursday night’s events


Oscar Grant was a resident of Hayward attending Mt. Eden High School at one point. Eventually Grant became a stereotype of just another young black man with a record in Alameda County. What started out as a new years BART ride home turned into a Bay Area wide disappointment in the system.

For those who don’t recall Oscar Grant was unarmed and shot in the back “accidently” by BART officer Johannes Mehserle New Years morning 2009.The past 18 months have been a rollercoaster of events and emotions following that early morning at Fruitvale BART station.

The events following Thursday afternoon’s announcement that the Mehserle trial had a verdict resonated around the Bay Area. There was a conflict of actions. Thousands fled the city of Oakland early in anticipation of rioting and looting. While hundreds more headed into Oakland to prepare for a protest, some for rioting. Hundreds gathered around the court house and when the verdict of involuntary manslaughter was announced and outcry of detest and anger was felt through the crowds.

Many people immediately stepped up in front of the crowd preaching peace and praying for a civil protest through the streets. Oscar Grants aunt, Yolanda spoke with tears “This is not justice, what am I going to tell my niece when she gets older.” These feelings of deep sadness spread across the state.

Protesters were present not only out on the streets of Oakland but out by the court house in Los Angeles where the court case took place.

Oakland was prepared for this inevitable conclusion to the Mehserle trial, weeks before a verdict was reached it was known that the police would get notice of the verdict in advance to prepare and notify local business if any action would need to be taken. A little before 3 p.m. Thursday business and city services around the Oakland area were notified that a verdict had been reached and should close up shop early. Many businesses didn’t want to risk it and decided to board up their shop windows. This may have seemed extreme but considering the damage caused after the Oscar Grant shooting that was caused by peaceful protesters who soon turned into violent rioters.

By 4 p.m. Thursday Broadway started to fill will protesters holding signs and flyers some wearing signs on the back of their shirts that said “don’t shoot me”. The energy of the crowd though angered was relatively calm. Many local groups had organized various opportunities for the public to express themselves in a non violent way in front of an audience. Stages and microphones were open for speakers.

As the evening began the number of people grew but still remained peaceful, it wasn’t until after nightfall when people who were mad or simply needed a reason to vent their anger took to the streets in a violent way. A footlocker and beauty supply store was broken into and looters were present. People were throwing things at the riot police who showed up just before night fall.

The police did quickly squelch the disturbance arresting just under 100 people. But the damage has been done and police were having difficulties dispersing the crowds after the violent outburst.

The streets of Oakland are now left with a mess to clean up and many business owners who didn’t board up their windows will have wish they did. Those who boarded their windows are surely relieved.

It is highly unlikely that the anger and uprising of the public from last night is over with. IN less than a month on August 6 Mehserle will have a hearing to determine his sentencing. There is speculation on whether or not the court will attach a higher sentence due to the use of a gun in the crime. Mehserle could serve any where from 4 years to 14 years.

Friday, August 6 Oakland may have another protest on its hands if Mehserle is not sentenced to the public’s liking. Till then things seem to be calm in Oakland during the daylight hours.

—-Stay tuned for more news updates

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