Original Article: http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/articles/New_violence.html
PROGRAMMED TO KILL
Video Games, Drugs, and The ‘New Violence’
(Reprinted from Fall 2000 21st Century)
by Michele Steinberg
“The murders of 13 students and teachers at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado on April 20, 1999, shocked the world. These acts of murder by two young men from well-to-do families, who cold-bloodedly shot fellow students and teachers, and then killed themselves, caused a wave of fear and soul-searching, to ripple throughout America.
Yet Littleton was only the most notorious of at least eight similar such incidents carried out by child killers, “Manchurian Children,” who learned their deadly skills from video games, and their scenarios from Hollywood. The brutal acts of these children exemplify a new phenomena in the world. It is the “New Violence,” as Democratic Presidential pre-candidate Lyndon LaRouche was the first to precisely characterize it at the time (see box). It is the use of Nintendo-style games, and related means, to transform young children and adolescents, as well as law-enforcement personnel into “Samurai”-style programmed killers.
The child-killers we have seen so far are only the first of what will be many more Nintendo killers—if we fail to recognize and stop the phenomenon.
In each of these cases, satanism, nihilism, and a fascination with violence and destruction figure prominently. In several of the more notorious cases, addiction to video games, and to nihilistic and graphically violent movies (such as Oliver Stone’s “Natural Born Killers”) were major components of the lives of these children. There is also the disturbing fact that three of the school shooters—Eric Harris of Littleton, Kip Kinkel, and Thomas J. Solomon—were among the more than 6 million children in the United States who are taking mind-altering drugs prescribed as a treatment. It may well be that the children on Ritalin, on Prozac, Luvox, and other psychiatric drugs, are walking human time bombs.
The very same video games which were originally designed to train soldiers to kill, are those being mass marketed today—to children! This is the shocking fact documented by Lt. Colonel David Grossman, an Army psychologist who has specialized in the training of troops for combat. Grossman, who wrote the authoritative book on deadly force, On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society, has identified the essential part played by video-games in desensitizing human beings to hurting, injuring, and even killing others. On Killing was published in 1996, long before Littleton, but Grossman updated his study in the 1999 book called, Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill, co-authored with Gloria DeGaetano.
In a particularly powerful chapter, “Feel Something When You Kill,” the authors reveal that the very “operant-conditioning techniques” used by the military and police agencies in training their troops to kill without compunction, are the basis for the increasingly lucrative point-and-shoot video-game “industry.”
“There are three things you need in order to shoot and kill effectively and efficiently,” Grossman and DeGaetano write. “From a soldier in Vietnam to an eleven-year-old in Jonesboro, anyone who does not have all three will essentially fail in any endeavor to kill. First, you need a gun. Next you need the skill to hit a target with that gun. And finally you need the will to use that gun.
The authors continue, “Today soldiers learn to fire at realistic, man-shaped silhouettes that pop up in their field of vision. This ‘simulated’ human being is the conditioning stimulus. The trainee has only a split second to engage the target. The conditioned response is to shoot the target, and then it drops. Stimulus-response, stimulus-response, stimulus-response—soldiers and police officers experience hundreds of repetitions of this. Later, when they’re out on the battlefield or walking a beat and someone pops up with a gun, reflexively they will shoot, and shoot to kill.”
In February 2000, two incidents came to the fore that made clear that Grossman was right, and that Littleton was no isolated case.
The first incident was the acquittal of four New York City policemen who had killed an unarmed African man, Amadou Diallo. About a year earlier, on Feb. 4, 1999, West African immigrant Diallo—a devout Muslim, 22-years old, with no criminal record—was gunned down without provocation by four policemen in New York City.
The four officers from the “Street Crimes Unit,” shot Diallo in the vestibule of his building about 12:40 a.m., as he was arriving home. He was unarmed, and offered no resistance. The police officers, who had been driving by in their car, noticed Diallo as he was entering his home. They stated that they believed that he was acting suspiciously. They were not wearing uniforms. One officer pulled out his badge, and said, “We’d like to have a word with you.” Diallo continued to enter the vestibule of his building. At some point, he pulled out his wallet, apparently in an attempt to identify himself. According to testimony from the four policemen-defendants, one officer yelled, “Gun!” Forty-one bullets were fired in five seconds, nineteen of them hitting their target. Within minutes, Amadou Diallo was dead.
The officers were later acquitted of murder, setting off a wave of national protests. They had not violated departmental rules concerning the use of deadly force. They had reacted as they were trained to react when they perceived a threat—even it the threat did not exist. They had become Nintendo Killers.
The second incident was the killing of a six-year-old girl in Flint, Michigan by her six-year-old classmate, a African-American boy, who was living at a crack house—without even a bed to sleep on—because his uncle who lived there, was the only available adult to “watch over” him. The boy killed his classmate with one deadly shot from the gun he had stolen from the uncle. He had never fired a gun before. But he had played point-and-shoot video games.”