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Dear Mr. Byron
Written By:
J. Michael Neal

The other day I read an article (the full article is archived in their pay service, but you can see where it’s going in the preview…) by one Christopher Byron. It was incredibly insightful. I felt so moved by it I decided to send him a letter. The following is what appeared in his inbox:

Thank you Mr. Byron.

I am a 21-year old boy who needs to be protected from himself, and more importantly, from horrible, terrible influences like Grand Theft Auto. I'm 100% with you - this game and all of its ilk should be outlawed. Banned. Forbidden. Why, I might run across it and confuse reality and fiction, like all us children do, and go on some sort of kill-crazy rampage. Look how hyper-realistic the fingerless, blocky, primary colored characters are; it's nearly impossible to tell them apart from actual people!

 

This sort of blurring of the lines of reality is frightening to me. I saw Lawnmower Man. And Tron. And Wargames. I know what this kind of stuff can lead to. If Take-Two had their way they’d spend over a billion dollars to develop the world’s most realistic war simulator, distribute it freely to teenagers over the internet, and monitor their personal information and battlefield performance while teaching them to handle real-world weaponry in the hopes that a few would get so into it they’d want to join their every growing “army” of American youths. That’s how sick they are!

 

And about this sort of game, in which you are free to do anything you want, being “10,000 times worse” than anything a pedophile might do to a young boy – totally on the nose. I’ve had dozens, if not hundreds, of pedophiles do all manner of sick, twisted thing to me throughout my childhood, and none came close what Take-Two has done by releasing this game. I mean, being sodomized with 9 irons is one thing, but a game in which you are free to just run around willy-nilly and kill people? What kind of society are we to allow such a thing? It’s not like you are free to do “whatever you want” in real life, why on earth would anyone think it’s ok to give people complete and utter freedom over their actions in a virtual world? It’s pure madness I tell you, madness. And to think, police officers actually waste time arresting real murders, thieves, and drug dealers when they should be arresting the people responsible for them – Take-Two Interactive. It’s not like any of those things existed BEFORE Grand Theft Auto came and put all those filthy little ideas in people’s minds.

Take-Two is a menace. Saying what they’ve created is “a whole lot worse” than any damage the tobacco industry has ever caused was putting it mildly. The hundreds of millions of people buried because of complications derived form tobacco products is nothing, NOTHING compared to the ones of people killed because of Grand Theft Auto. Yet everyone persecutes “Big Tobacco” like they ever harmed anyone while Take-Two is still allowed to operate? What hypocrisy!

Speaking of “hypocrisy”, you sure pointed out a good one in it being considered “ok” to allow someone “mature” like that Beltway Sniper to “play Grand Theft Auto before going on his killing spree” but not ok for a teenager to do the same thing. I mean come on! Ok for the government to train him as sniper and send him to kill hundreds of actual people – yes. Ok to allow him to come back from said war and play a game in which he can kill hundreds of imaginary people – absurd to even ask! It’s so easy to see how a violent game can turn a God-fearing war hero into a crazed killing machine. Of course he never played the game at any time in his life so it’s really not an issue, but your point remains the same – no matter what the age, a game like Grand Theft Auto can turn fuel homicidal flames until they spread like a wildfire. I only hope the State doles out some justice to that Sniper and gives him the death penalty. That’ll teach him that violence isn’t a solution!

Vice City also sends the wrong message to children. It’s a game that allows you to kill hundreds of innocent people; only political leaders and CEOs are allowed to do that! A game that tells you it’s ok to pick up a gun from the body of a dead police officer; everyone knows the only place you are allowed to pick a gun up from is a licensed dealer, like your friendly neighborhood store like Wal-Mart! A game that says it’s ok to have sex with women for money; it’s only ok to do that sort of stuff in the state of Nevada. And drug use? Not unless it comes in a bottle labeled Pfizer or Budweiser, thank you very much. There’s a word for this, it’s called misinformation, and only in the interest of national security or for companies that have been around for decades like Philip Morris, excuse me, Altria can that privilege be exorcised.

So thank you Mr. Byron. Too many people are afraid to stand up and tell adults what they should or should not be allowed to watch, read, listen to, or play for entertainment, what with that pesky old 1st Amendment getting in the way. Anything that goes on behind closed doors between two contenting adults is ok, as long as they aren’t playing Grand Theft Auto III, am I right Mr. Byron?

Oh, and in case you couldn't tell, I was being sarcastic...

Posted: 3-17-04


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