March 29

RCL #2.5: Persuasive Essay – Rough Plan

As I have stated previously, the topic of my persuasive essay is the controversy regarding the censorship of and restrictions of sales on video games. More specifically, I will spend the paper arguing why this is NOT a fair, viable solution. As both a passionate, lifelong gamer and a strong advocate for free speech, I felt that this specific topic for my essay was like a match made in heaven! As such, I greatly look forward to presenting making a solid argument, the audience of which mainly consists of those currently between the ages of 18 to 35 (also known as “millennials”), who grew up in a time where video game graphics became more realistic and therefore portrayed more lifelike violence, in turn creating this debate.

My audience has heard the cries of (mostly) older generations, who proclaim that violent video games are responsible for real-world atrocities such as mass shootings, among other things. Many of these naysayers have even gone to state that regulation of these games is necessary. I plan to dispel the argument through a variety of methods, including statistics on crime, shootings, and the number of regular gamers; this will be done as a means to “arm” the audience with the knowledge on how few people actually are violent criminals relative to the number of those who play video games on a consistent basis. Additionally, I will stress the importance of the responsibility of parents, not the government, in controlling what games kids play. In other words, I will make appeals to logic, or “logos”.

In terms of appeal to emotion, I definitely want to have it present in my paper, while at the same time making sure that it does not overstay its welcome and come at the expense of reason. One idea that I have in which I would possibly use pathos would be to “hook” my audience in with an instance of how unfair it can be when something that can be fun is taken away from everyone just because a select few misuse it. For example, I may ask something along the lines of: “is it fair for the government to ban candy just because some random person got a heart attack from eating too much of it?” However, part of me is worried that starting my argument out with something like this will cause my audience to be too invested in their emotions from the get-go.

If I were to pick my biggest concern for this project, it would definitely be what I personally perceive as a lack of real credibility on the subject, or ethos. True, I can cite the best sources, but part of me fears that I do not have the credentials to discuss such a hot-button issue. Perhaps I could mitigate this by intertwining some gaming history as a means to give my arguments some context, but I am unsure as to whether or not this adds much. Additionally, while I want to persuade people to believe in what I am arguing, I am still not certain on what my “call to action” will be. However, I plan to discuss my concerns to my colleagues tomorrow and hope to improve on my shortcomings as best I can.

March 21

RCL #2.4: Video Game Censorship – My Rebuttal

As you may know, I plan to write a persuasive essay in which I will argue to my readers the reasons why video games should not be censored or their sales be further restricted. To help build up a solid argument, I have decided to look at an article written with an opinion completely at odds with my libertarian perspective on the matter, and try to deconstruct the author’s argument. The article I am to critique can be found here: http://discussmuch.com/violent-video-games-produce-violent-behavior-in-our-nations-youth-and-should-be-banned/

The author, Eric Roberts, claims that the human race is naturally violent, essentially citing every war in history as an example. While I agree that people are not entirely peaceful beings, Roberts’ subsequent statement that violence in video games leads to violent behavior in the children that play them comes off as a sudden jump to an unwarranted conclusion.

Roberts then states that the reason children are so easily exposed to violent video games is because while they are not allowed to buy M-rated games without a parent present, they can still play them. Although the author is correct in stating a fact, the problem lies in that the M-rating restriction is intended to inform parents that a game may not be suitable for their children. It is ultimately a parent’s responsibility to regulate what a child is and is not exposed to, not a larger power, and children will not be able to play video games too inappropriate for them if parents keep this in check.

The author argues that the constant exposure to violence in their games desensitizes children to real-world violence. In my opinion, there may be some credence to this argument, but I think it really depends on the maturity level of each individual child. Again, parents should know how mature their child is, and keep a close, responsible eye on what their they are playing to prevent any supposed desensitization to begin with.

Eric Rodgers then proceeds to bring about the infamous “school shooter argument” in order to solidify his case. I have said this before, but I will say it again: we must remember that the perpetrators of these horrendous mass shootings make up an extremely small percentage of the population. True, at times, it may seem like an ever-increasing amount of people are shooting up schools, but this only feels like that because the 24/7 media constantly shows the criminals over and over again, artificially “inflating” how often these things actually happen. Unfortunately, what many people do not take into account are the millions upon millions of individuals who play violent video games, yet still turn out as productive, functioning members of society.

Overall, however, my main problem with Rodgers’ arguments lie in that he lacks real sources and statistics to back himself up. In a world where we are constantly exposed to negativity in the media all day, every day, I can understand where the author is coming from, but in the process, he is overly reliant on emotion over logic, jumping to conclusions excessively.

March 15

Civic Issues #3: Focus on Persuasive Essay

Question of Policy: Video games should not be further censored or restricted in the United States.

Violent video games should not be held responsible for acts of real-world crimes or violence, and therefore, attempts to censor them or further restrict the sales of them are heavily misguided.

Recent events have put the debate on gun control back onto the political forefront. However, legal restrictions on the sale of assault rifles are far from the only suggestion on how to resolve our nationwide dilemma. Specifically, some have pointed to violence in movies and video games as influencing our country’s infamous mass murderers. Even President Trump has weighed in on this issue, organizing a meeting with many top executives in the gaming industry to discuss it with them. As such, I would not be surprised if a similarly large debate on violence in our entertainment opens up in the near future.

Seeing as I write pieces on the civic issue of the restrictions on free speech, as well as the fact that I am a passionate gamer, the fact that the two are overlapping makes for an interesting opportunity for me to research the controversy on video game violence. Mainly, I want to create a solid argument on why video games should NOT be restricted by the government or any other public force, especially given my almost unabashedly libertarian stance on these kinds of issues.

Personally, I think that blaming video games for one’s real acts of violence is unfair to both a perpetrator of crime as well as law-abiding gamers. With every major mass shooter in recent memory, one very common denominator residing in all of them is that they all have struggled with mental health. Sure, some were known for their gaming habits, but the hole in this argument lies in the fact that millions of other people also play video games, but do no such heinous actions. We need to put in perspective that the horrible murderers our news feeds constantly, repeatedly show make up an extremely minuscule proportion of our population; is it really fair to collectively punish everyone? I sure do not think so!

RESEARCH QUESTIONS:

Are video games REALLY the cause of all this recent violence?

Find statistics on amount of regular game-players.

Good Ben Shapiro article on this recently.

Should parents be fully responsible for what games their children are exposed to, as opposed to the government?

What about the ESRB rating system? Don’t they restrict the sales of M-rated games?

Should the government even be involved at all?

March 2

RCL #2.4: My Deliberation Experience

Image result for student discussion

I, alongside my classmates, was assigned by our English professor to attend a different class’s deliberation panel before we did ours. Seeing as all of our busy schedules varied from one another, we were able to individually pick which one we could go to. Almost immediately, one event in particular caught my eye: “Using the F-Word: Should Free Speech be Limited in the U.S.?” Seeing as this topic not only tied in perfectly with my Civic Issues blog, but was one I was particularly passionate about, I knew I had to attend this deliberation. Besides, given my unabashedly anti-censorship stances on the matter, I was naturally curious to hear different points of view on the issue.

As a guest to this class’s deliberation, I was admittedly expecting to play more of an observing role, simply being there to write a blog post about it. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I was offered a seat at the table alongside the host members. I eagerly joined the discussion, excited to share my views with the other students as well as to hear their perspectives. This deliberation contained three core approaches to the issue of free speech, them being:

  1. No limitations or restrictions on speech.
  2. Culture and society to set informal “boundaries” on speech considered threatening or hateful.
  3. Government intervention in what should be considered “free speech”.

As one may imagine, the first approach was my forte, and arguably the one I contributed the most talking points to overall. An interesting subtopic our group brought up here was that views that differ from the mainstream consensus can often be interpreted as “threatening”, citing the scrutiny that Nicolaus Copernicus came under when stating his then-unpopular idea that the Earth revolved around the sun. Many of us argued that the suppression of “risky” ideas can potentially hide the truth and, in turn, hold back societal progress that could be made expressing said idea, as is what could have easily happened with Copernicus.

Image result for copernicus vs ptolemy

During the middle of Approach #1, one point that I proposed is that, at least to a certain extent, speech that is considered offensive is merely subjectively so; what may be off-putting to one person may be a compliment to another. As such, I stated my belief that one should not jump to conclusions when hearing something that may at first sound controversial, seeing as not everything said in this vein is intended to be an attack. If I were to describe my position on free speech incredibly briefly and to the point, it would most likely be along the lines of the previous sentence, so I am glad that I was able to contribute my beliefs in their “purest form” to the deliberation.

In my perfect world, I feel that the first approach would be ideal. However, I would argue that, in a democratic society such as the United States, Approach #2 is the most realistic proposal. This part of the deliberation states that boundaries on free speech should be set not by laws, but more “informally” by socio-cultural norms and standards. As an aspiring economics major, I personally likened this concept to the “invisible hand” of the market, the idea that things will eventually sort themselves out when left to their own devices, free from government intervention. For the most part, I believe that this is not a bad idea when it comes to dealing with what should be protected under free speech. However, I do see the flaws that my colleagues pointed out, such as society leaning too much in favor of a majority viewpoint, stifling less popular opinions. In our incredibly divided nation, the struggle to find a common ground on many issues may also make for a slow “sorting out” process.

Image result for invisible hand cartoon

As I predicted, by far the most controversial approach was the third one, in which the government intervenes. True, there were positives to this ideology, such as the state having the ability to protect individuals from unfair slander, as well as stepping in when speech turns to violence. However, I recall the deliberation mostly turning against Approach #3 when someone pointed out that, in the worst-case scenario, a small elite could take advantage of the regulations and legally suppress speech that disagrees with their agenda.

All in all, I remember most of my group leaning toward Approach #2 by the end of our meeting, myself included. I will admit to being a little disappointed when seeing everyone have a similar opinion to me, but I was still satisfied when remembering how we went through the pros and cons of each individual approach. At the end of the day, I believe that just as long as I am exposed to the good and bad of each viewpoint, that is still more than enough, and in a way, I can very much respect the civil manner in which we discussed the less popular perspectives.