I have decided the Washington Redskins should probably keep their name and the rest of the world should probably shut up.
This doesn’t mean I condone the use of the racist term or feel it’s not offensive to native Americans in any way. It’s a horrible use of language at best, and should not be protected commercial speech at least.
But it is the wrong fight, we’ve become a nation of over-sensitive sufferers who continually redefine what terms are “offensive” yet allow entire industry segments to actively promote language, entertainments and interactive media that does promote negative attitudes and violence – against women.
Hollywood and the video-game industry’s arguments that violence against women in fictional media don’t promote actual harm in the real world are as thin and threadbare as the tobacco industry’s 1980’s campaign claiming that science can’t conclusively link tobacco smoking to lung disease (or their modern campaign convincing third world mothers and fathers that it’s healthy for babies to pick up smoking as soon as possible).
They are lies designed to defend a reprehensible practice, and there is no defense of the current treatment of women in games like Grand Theft Auto, Assassins Creed or a dozen other titles.
This is not my opinion, this is based on well-established scientific proofs.
Catharsis theory is a lie: There have been many studies to discredit this idea that venting anger or taboo emotions through imaginative outlets allows a person to “blow off steam” and make them less likely to act on those impulses. (Brad Bushman’s June 2002 research)
That study processed anger and violence, but the wolf you feed is the one that wins. That is true whether you’re talking about anger, violence, sexuality, drugs, or any behavior that could ever be described as addictive – even building model trains.
There is ample evidence that men and even women who play sexually explicit video games are more likely to report tendencies to behave in sexually inappropriate ways toward women in the real world. Both men or women are more likely to accept rape apologetics like “she was asking for it” after playing these games. (Yao, Mahood and Linz, 2010); (Fox, Bailenson and Tricase, 2013)
It’s easy to defend these games saying, “I’m no Elliot Rodgers.”
But the proof is that he was able to surround himself with this culture and the exact attitudes represented in these games, even in the non-game virtual worlds he visited. The men’s rights movement that embraced him and told him he deserved sex on demand is no different, if more obviously repugnant, than the culture represented by visiting a prostitute to replenish your health meter, then killing the hooker to recover your cash.
The fact that someone like Anita Sarkeesian gets routine death and rape threats for suggesting there might be a problem is striking evidence that, yes, there is a problem with this culture.
In this case, as well as many other around the country and the world, misogyny kills.
So while we all go on crowing about the denial of trademark protection (again) for the Washington Redskins franchise, the fact that our society does nothing about a toxic, radicalizing ideology embraced on the internet and world of videogaming, to me seems not just a little bit schizophrenic.
Maybe my sources for news are selective or filtered by circumstance, but I have not heard of mass racist killings of Native Americans in my lifetime. While the name may irritate, and a civilized person should not use such terms, it seems a real and present poison that is responsible for countless rapes, domestic abuse, murder and even now a mass killing should be getting more airtime than an irritant that hasn’t caused a significant level of racist or violent activity in recent history.
Karl Hille lived and breathed local news beat reporting in Greenbelt and the Baltimore/Washington region for more than 12 years until the 2007 recession. While learning and improving the online side of the Baltimore Examiner operations, his platform dropped out from under his feet, then his rebound job at a regional business news magazine downsized him three months later. Now, working for the “dark side” – public communications work by day for the awesome government agency – he is going back to school to find the critical intersection of news, investigation, and the Internet – and re-learning how to be a student while he’s the only guy on campus sporting a fedora.