You’ve got to have pity for Frank Wolf. He must appeal to the anti-science Christianist TEA-Party right and his overwhelmingly smart, diverse, real-world, evidence-oriented constituency. He’s between a rock (or shall we say LaRock) and a proverbial hard place. For example, Liza Gold* just took him to task for his anti-violent-video game ideology. Here are a few excerpts from her Fairfax Times op-ed.
U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Dist. 10) has repeatedly stated his belief that violent video games are a major cause of gun violence and mass shootings. As per his website: “Common sense tells us that the level of violence on TV, in the movies and in many video games is a problem. While media violence is not the only factor of mass violence, it is one of the easiest factors to change and it needs to be addressed.” This position would not be objectionable, except for the fact that Rep. Wolf seems uninterested in any other subject relating to sensible firearm regulation reform.
Liza Gold is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine, and a member of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy. She also contributed to the Commission on Mental Health Law Reform in 2007 and 2008, following the Virginia Tech shootings.
The assertion that violent video games are significant in mass shootings and gun violence in general ignores the evidence that gun violence is related to the availability of guns, not the availability of video games.
The relationship of violence in the media, including video games, to aggressive behavior is a legitimate subject for social science research. But despite years of study, there is no evidence of a causal relationship between video violence and mass shootings. Even data supporting a causal relationship between video game violence and non-firearm violence is equivocal and unconvincing, as noted by a 2011 Supreme Court ruling when it decided a case against government regulation of violent video games. In short, Mr. Wolf, curtailing First Amendment rights to protect inadequate regulation of Second Amendment rights is a legal non-starter.
But Wolf’s anti-violent video games ideology plays well with the censors at Enough is Enough and their far-right partners (notice the Virginia Family Foundation and VA AG on the list!) and Board of Directors that features Colby M May of the ACLJ and Craig Parshall, Janet Parshall’s partner.
On the other hand, Wolf has to play the moderate and foster science education. For example his facebook page features this:
Just a reminder that STEM Careers Fair is this weekend (Friday-Saturday) at Dulles Town Center. Come out and see over 100 scientists and engineers share exciting demonstrations of the work they do to change the world. It is free and open to all area middle and high school students, teachers and their families.
Sorry Congressman, but as these youth learn to think for themselves and examine the evidence, the chance that they’ll vote for an anti-science ideologue diminishes, exponentially.
*Liza Gold is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine, and a member of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy. She also contributed to the Commission on Mental Health Law Reform in 2007 and 2008, following the Virginia Tech shootings.