In New Report, Media Coalition Explains Flaws in Link Between Gun Violence and New Media

June 24, 2013
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CBLDF is a member of the Media Coalition, “an association that defends the First Amendment right to produce and sell books, movies, magazines, recordings, DVDs, videotapes, and video games, and defends the American public’s First Amendment right to have access to the broadest possible range of opinion and entertainment.” Like CBLDF, the Media Coalition recognizes that the argument that video games cause violent behavior is specious, and this week saw the release of a report from Media Coalition that provides further evidence against the idea that media — including video games — and violence are connected. CBLDF endorses the research as part of our program work, and the official press release follows, as does the report itself:

The popular notion that media causes people to kill is based on flawed research, and those who support it ignore ample evidence to the contrary, according to a report issued today by Media Coalition, Inc.

The group issued the 13-page report, Only a Game: Why Censoring New Media Won’t Stop Gun Violence, in an effort to educate the public and in response to politicians and interest groups that continue to play the blame game in the wake of recent tragic shooting incidents.

“The claim that video games cause violence has become a convenient narrative that is just not supported by the facts and is used as a crutch to avoid the more complex – if politically unpopular – issues,” said David Horowitz, Executive Director of Media Coalition, a trade association that defends the First Amendment rights of mainstream media. “Our report explains that when independent bodies review the research they find no studies that show that video games cause actual violence, and the studies that claim a connection between new media and aggression are flawed, in dispute, and ignore obvious explanations for their results,” Horowitz added.

According the report, the governments of Australia, Great Britain and Sweden each recently reviewed the research claiming a link between violent video games and aggressive behavior and came to the same conclusion that it is flawed and inconclusive. As a result, none of these countries – despite having less stringent speech protections than the United States – have imposed restrictions on video games with violent content.

Similarly, in 2011 the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a California law aimed at restricting the sale of violent video games, declaring that they deserve the same First Amendment protection as books, plays, movies and other media.  The Court reviewed the science on both sides of the debate and ruled that the research offered to justify the law had “significant, admitted flaws in methodology.”

Among the report’s key findings:

  • Crime statistics do not support the theory that media causes violence. 
  • Research into the effects of video games on aggression is contested and inconclusive. Much of it suffers from methodological deficiencies and provides insufficient data to prove a causal relationship.  
  • Censorship of violent content is barred by the First Amendment for all types of media, but industry self-regulation works.  

Earlier this year, President Obama called for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to renew scientific research into the relationship between video games, media images and violence. He also asked Congress to authorize $10 million for the research.

Horowitz cautioned that any new research must be neutral, comprehensive and transparent – and not driven by politics or professional interest. The research that has been cited to date, he noted, is flawed and inconclusive and has been tainted by a bias against results that do not support the popular view.  In fact, Horowitz said, many respected scientists have left this area of research because of the lack of provable data that could lead to publication and professional advancement.

The Media Coalition report is available online at http://mediacoalition.org/only-a-game/

Only a Game confines itself largely to the issue of violent video games. A 2000 Media Coalition report, Shooting the Messenger: Why Censorship Won’t Stop Violence, examines at greater length the scientific claims of short- and long-term links between all kinds of media — movies, TV and music, as well as games — and violent crime. The report concludes with recommendations for helping kids to become smart media consumers and a reaffirmation of the American way of fighting offensive speech: not with censorship but with “more and different speech, informed speech, critical speech.”

Media Coalition, Inc., founded in 1973, is an association that defends the First Amendment right to produce and distribute books, movies, magazines, recordings, home video and video games, and protects the American public’s First Amendment right to have access to the broadest possible range of information, opinion and entertainment.

Only A Game

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