9-11 Bill-OReilly Bush culture-war Games Iraq News Politics Republican TV video-games violence YouTube

Violent Video Game Debate: Bill O Reilly vs A Little Girl

The video game industry covers a wide range of genres, but some of the most popular games allow players to engage in serious simulated violence. At the same time, your local evening news broadcast is filled with reports on violence in schools and gang violence. But are video games (and rap music, and Elvis Presley, and Jazz, and, uhh... flappers?) really to blame for violence among our youths? Culture warrior Bill O'Reilly thinks so, as he told Oprah recently. He has a whole book on this and many other subjects which he ties together under the umbrella of the "Culture War" - basically, traditionalists defending America versus secular-progressives who want drastic changes through undemocratic means. I can't show you the first part of this debate, as it has been removed by the copyright holder. Suffice it to say that a traditionalist like O'Reilly thinks taking away the XBox controller (or Wii remote) and replacing it with a Bible is the right way to lessen violent crime among our young people. Here's a link to a promo that may or may not cover it - I can't get it to play. Now, I won't debate O'Reilly here, in a forum he has no awareness of or interest in. Instead I will present the debate the broadcaster did have with an 8-year-old-girl: [youtube]k8x14cLGh5o[/youtube] Now it is clear that this young lady is intelligent, talented, and - let's face it - adorable. But does her argument hold any weight? She is right that it is hard to blame all violence on video games and rap music, since violence predates both of those items. Her suggestion that religion might be just as valid a cause of violence as popular culture is interesting as well. Note that she doesn't fall into the trap of claiming all violence is due to religion or all religion is violent. Her point seems to be that anyone arguing that replacing video games and rap music with the church will decrease violence should not ignore the numerous, obvious examples of violence prompted by religion. She also points out that she has no reason to believe what is said at one particular church over any other made-up, fictional story. Bill O'Reilly is no amateur, so I'm sure he has some cogent arguments to use against the little girl in this important debate: [youtube]mJjuZg7Mndo[/youtube] That's... interesting. He seems to be saying that video games are bad because... they run on machines, and YouTube runs on machines... uh, and YouTube is bad because somebody put a video of their kid on it...? And video taping a child actor is child abuse? ... Before I award the contest to the little girl, who has at this point completely kicked O'Reilly's ass (rhetorically speaking), I'd like to say the child abuse thing really bothers me. Child abuse is something real, that happens in real world. Children are hurt, abused, and molested by adults, sometimes even their own parents. I know it is a nice, powerful phrase to throw around, that makes you sound important, like "terrorist" and "traitor." But really, Bill? Do you even hear the things that come out of your mouth? Shouldn't there be a Godwin's Law for comparisons to child abuse? I think O'Reilly has made a tactical error here. I don't think he should have responded to the little girl on YouTube - and not because I disagree with him. Now people know that all it takes is a video camera and an Internet connection and you could be picking apart his arguments on equal terms. Although he did not respond to the little girl in a substantive way, he gave her video a place in the sun. Nearly one million people have viewed it now, and not all of them are liberal Democrat dittoheads (is there a term for such a thing on the left?). O'Reilly should know by now that you can't just distort someone's arguments into a straw man. You can't just use ad hominem attacks, although it is really helpful. You need to deny them the ability to speak as well. You need to turn off the microphone.

Bush thinks you are stupid – 9-11 and the Iraq War

Monday marks 5 years since the 9/11 attacks.

This not a particularly political site. I'll let others hash out the differences between liberals and conservatives. But I will say that the current administration apparently thinks I, and the rest of America, are idiots. President Bush thinks we are stupid, and afraid, and they think they can sway us with ridiculous, illogical arguments.

At a press briefing on September 8th, Press Secretary Tony Snow said the following:

"But, more importantly -- if we have people who want to re-litigate that, that's fine, but the President's stated concern this week, as you've seen, is to think, okay, we'll let people quibble over three years ago; the important thing to do is to figure out what you're doing tomorrow, and the day after, and the month after, and the year after to make sure that this war on terror is won."

This is not the first time the administration has used this argument. In fact, I'm surprised Snow didn't accuse anyone of trying to "rewrite history," since that has been such a popular phrase. But with the coming anniversary, I felt particularly disgusted and patronized by Snow's statement on Friday. As far as I can figure, this is the argument:
  1. A lot of people, Republicans and Democrats, keep coming up with more evidence that Iraq and Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11 or any terrorism. Also, we never did find any weapons of mass destruction, and now there is no evidence that Saddam was a threat to the United States in any way.

  2. America is threatened by terrorism in the present.

  3. The invasion occurred in the past. At that time, the President convinced a lot of Republicans and Democrats that Iraq was a threat.

  4. It is now the present – and the present is not the past

  5. Therefore, no evidence will ever be needed to justify the war in Iraq. Also, any discussion of it is quibbling by lawyerly nebbishes who distract from the real threat in the present.

Apparently, if I decide to do something, and I can get enough people to agree with me, I am untouchable from that point on. It doesn't matter if my reasons turn out to be wrong or right. It doesn't matter how horrible the consequences of my actions are. Since the decision was made in the past, it cannot be questioned in the present or future.

Often it's useful to make a few substitutions to point out the problem with a logical fallacy. Imagine if you were a judge, overseeing the trial of a person accused of murdering their neighbor three years ago.

Judge: what do you say to all of this new evidence-DNA tests, phone and credit card records, bloody clothing found in your closet- that indicates that you are the murder?

Accused: The murder occurred three years ago. At the time, something was chewing on the wires in my garage – everyone agrees it's very dangerous to have bare wires. Jesus spoke to me though my toaster and said that my neighbor was actually a rodent, like a rat or mouse. I told everyone I know that I had a pest problem, that I had proof it was a rat, and that I knew where the rat was hiding. Everyone on both sides agreed I should kill the rat.

But, more importantly -- if we have people who want to re-litigate that, that's fine, but my stated concern this week, as you've seen, is to think, okay, we'll let people quibble over three years ago; the important thing to do is to figure out what you're doing tomorrow, and the day after, and the month after, and the year after to make sure that I don't have a pest problem now.

Judge: [brain explodes]

I cannot believe people are allowed to make arguments like this on national TV and get away with it. I cannot believe that no one ever replies to this argument with something like this:

“...what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.�

Finally, I'll let more capable people than myself have a say. It gets especially interesting about 4 minutes in.