Just to be clear: We’re not trying to make light of the Norway attacks here. In fact, we were as horrified as the rest of America when we found out. It’s just that we saw this report from Kotaku and felt the bottom drop out of our stomachs: “Oh, no, here we go again.”
Whenever there’s a killing like this, we try to make sense of it, to figure out why this person did what they did. Unfortunately, many people will try to exploit that for their own ends. And, almost inevitably, they try to use that to shut down methods of speech they don’t like, because using the horrible deaths of total strangers for your own ends, that’s not monstrous at all.
In the next few days, you can expect some blowhard to go on the air and insist that “Modern Warfare 2,” which Breivik called a “training simulator,” should be banned, and that World of Warcraft users should be monitored or psychologically screened or something. It’s going to happen. They hadn’t even identified the gunman in the Virginia Tech attacks when Jack Thompson popped up and insisted it was all Counter-Strike’s fault. Alleged “experts” were also so insistent that first-person shooters had somehow driven Dylan Harris and Eric Klebold to commit the Columbine massacre that some of the families actually tried to sue video game companies.
Are we complaining about people trashing our favorite games? No. That’s happened before and that’ll happen again, and it’s not a big deal. Another story about nerds playing too much WoW means less than nothing.
What is a big deal is the fact that people are going to exploit the rantings of a sicko who committed a monstrous act to further their own agenda instead of doing something, anything, to try and reduce the chances of this actually happening again. Even worse, they’ll pretend, or delude themselves into thinking, that helping is what they’re trying to do. They’ll mourn for the victims even as they exploit them. Or, even worse, it’ll be used as a smokescreen to avoid discussing little facts like, oh, he was a far-right Christian fundamentalist with far more guns than sense, something a lot of people in America are only too eager not to discuss.
Anders Behring Breivik didn’t kill nearly a hundred people because he played “Modern Warfare 2” and it didn’t help him “train.” You don’t need “training” to murder unarmed teenagers. He committed murder because he surrounded himself with an echo chamber of people telling him exactly what he wanted to hear, he had easy access to weapons designed to kill people, and there were no structures in place to find him and stop him before he killed.
Saying it was anything else is a disgrace to his victims. It’s that simple. And something we hope the American media keeps in mind before letting some jerk with an agenda on the air, though we doubt that’ll be the case.