December 21, 2012

The NRA’s Wayne LaPierre /Getty Images

 

The speech the National Rifle Association vice president gave Friday was like being yelled at down a long tunnel from 1987.

It was ripped from the headlines, several decades ago, and carefully preserved in a time capsule until executive vice president Wayne LaPierre broke it out just now. Among the pop-culture references were Mortal Kombat, American Psycho and something called Splatterhouse. Also, he kept coming back to hurricanes. 

“Add another hurricane, terrorist attack, or some other natural of manmade disaster, and you’ve got a recipe for a national nightmare of violence and victimization,” he said, after suggesting that decreased rates of federal gun prosecution had led to an increase in crime. 

“And here’s another dirty little truth that the media try their best to conceal,” he said. “There exists in this country, sadly, a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and stows violence against its own people. Through vicious, violent video games with names like ‘Bullet Storm,’ ‘Grand Theft Auto,’ ‘Mortal Kombat’ and ‘Splatterhouse.’”

We concealed it so well that he is only now hearing of these games, and they’ve been around in some cases for two decades. 

He went on:

And here’s one, it’s called “Kindergarten Killers.” It’s been online for 10 years. How come my research staff can find it, and all of yours couldn’t? Or didn’t want anyone to know you had found it?

“Kindergarten Killer” is a 2002 Flash game from the site Newgrounds. To anyone who has grown up with the Internet, the idea that a poorly-animated Flash game from 2002 is responsible for, well, anything, is ludicrous on its face. Or the idea that the media were  somehow providing insufficient coverage of this game?

Also, do you know how many people are sitting around avidly playing badly animated shock games from 2002? I don’t even play the Lusty Barfly any more. Or Oregon Trail, and I actually liked Oregon Trail.

But he went on: 

Add another hurricane, add another natural disaster. I mean we have blood-soaked films out there, like “American Psycho,” “Natural Born Killers.” They’re aired like propaganda loops on Splatterdays and every single day.

He continued a tirade about violent video games.

Didn’t we have this discussion a decade ago? Didn’t he deliver this exact speech a decade ago? That would explain most of the names used. 

Given his apparently limited acquaintance with today’s games, I worried that he was going to start invoking Space Invaders and Chess, where you try to wipe out bishops and entire castles. Or, heck, Oregon Trail, which has led to a lot of man-on-buffalo crime and numerous oxen deaths in ill-advised copycat fordings. 

What stations is he watching? Also, what was that about hurricanes? 

It would have been amusing if the context weren’t so serious.

He made one point that I agreed with. Just having a sign that says “Gun-Free Zone” doesn’t do any good. I cannot argue with that. Signs alone do not protect you. I once got into a fight with a stop sign, and I won. And Charles Krauthammer makes a good point about how any attempt to draw down the arsenal will take time. But we might as well start. 

After all, this is the alternative.

LaPierre’s rambling monologue was a long litany of things that need addressing if guns are left out of the equation. If we don’t address guns, it would be nice to have a national database of the mentally ill. If we don’t address guns, we need a national School Shield program. If we don’t address guns, the media need to stop sensationalizing tragedies. If we don’t address guns, we need to go back to the past and change the video games there! If we don’t address guns, we need to alter our music videos. If we don’t address guns, we must, the NRA thinks, have a cop in every school. 

Maybe we should just address guns. 

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day.