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Killing President Kennedy On A Video Game: Terrorism Training Or Parental Neglect?
Cliff McKenzie

GROUND ZERO PLUS 1167 DAYS,--New York, NY, Monday, November 22, 2004--Today is the 41st anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He was murdered in Dallas, Texas.

It is also the first day a new video game hits the market that allows the player to "kill" President Kennedy.

In a simulated game, JFK Reloaded, the player shoots three bullets at the President from the Texas Book Depository where controversial evidence claims a lone gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald, murdered the President.

For more than four decades, controversy has clouded the assassination claiming there was a conspiracy to kill the President, and Oswald didn't act alone.

The Scottish manufacturers of the game that can be downloaded on the web for $9.95 claim it is education in intent, similar to other historical events that are digitally reenacted to help students study important events interactively.

Is JFK Reloaded a form of Terror Training?

High points are given if the player "kills" the President with "clean" shots. However, if by accident the player shoots his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy, or bystanders, points are deducted.

Each shot can be replayed in slow motion and seen traveling through the digital body of JFK.

Ted Kennedy, brother of John, and family spokesman said the game was "despicable"

The question on this table is: "Is the 'game' a form of Terror Training?"

The outrage over this video game seems minor, perhaps even miniscule, compared with a plethora of video games that promote killing and violence and are available to young children.

Teaching a child how to be a "sniper" and shoot people from afar and then slink into the shadows isn't a new idea. Media violence is part of our culture. To some, it is a dangerous part. By the age of 18, a child watching television alone--not including video games--sees some 200,000 acts of violence and 16,000 murders, according to child media watch experts.

Thousands of video games, including many in movie theater lobbies, are geared to put a gun in the hand of a child and a screen with bodies on it that offer high points for the most "blood" drawn.

Americans become outraged when they see video clips of young boys and girls in al-Qaeda training camps holding machine guns shooting at silhouette targets and throwing live hand grenades.

America is outraged at video clips of young boys and girls learning how to make bombs .....

There's not much difference between a kid in a comfortable living room in America displaying on a digital television screen live-action images of people running as he or she splays a wall of digital bullets or tosses digital explosives at them until body parts splatter over the screen and points rack up in favor of or against the player.

...and shoot weapons

Efforts to reduce violence in the youth gaming industry have met with fierce First Amendment resistance in the U.S. Some game manufacturers bend to pressures resulting from national outrage created, for example, by the 1999 murders of Columbine High School students by a fellow student who brought an arsenal of weapons with him and killed indiscriminately as many video games urge players to do.

The makers of Resident Evil, a video game where players "kill" people, changed the color of blood from "red" to "green" to mollify critics. Another game manufacturer of Carmageddon where players ran over pedestrians to get points, changed the "normal looking" people to "zombies" in an attempt to quell parental outrage.

But the real issue isn't about the video games, but the information delivered to a child by parents and loved ones about the idea of "killing" others, and the dangers of "playing killing."

If one believes that inside all humans is a Beast of Terror who seeks to command a child's Fear, Intimidation and Complacency in the absence of parental or guardian management of those Fears, Intimidations and Complacencies, then the video games are not the problem.

The lack of Vigilance is.

It is easy to "blame" games as being the "source" of violence and twisted behaviors if one is detached from his or her role as a Sentinel of Vigilance. Such "blame" falls into the "Complacency" factor, for it assumes that the "world" is more responsible for the molding, shaping and strengthening of a child's character to chose what is right or wrong than a parent or guardian.

A wise parent or guardian realizes that children seek to explore their capacity to exercise "power" over people, places and things. A set of building blocks is a tool to allow a child to rearrange nature, to take chaos and build structure from it.

Children playing with blocks should learn "construction" vs. "destruction"

It is also an exercise in power, positive power to manage the "construction" versus the "destruction" of things. But, if one watches most children, once they build the structure with blocks, they will find some imaginary way to "destroy" the structure by smashing a car or plane or simply swiping it with their hand.

Power has two sides: the good and bad, the positive and negative, the constructive and destructive sides of the coin.

A Parent or Guardian of Vigilance needs to explain to a child the use of both powers as the child evolves, so that from the building blocks upward, the child begins to recognize that power means responsibility, and, that there are dangers in playing too much "destruction" versus "construction."

Video games that involve "killing" are about the destruction of human life, perhaps the most egregious of all uses of human power.

In the final analysis, it isn't the video games that need to be attacked as endangering our society, but rather the person or persons who control the plug or batteries that allow the machine to be turned on.

If one is a Parent of Vigilance and teaches a child how to seek to turn Fear into Courage, and Intimidation into Conviction, and to overpower Complacency with Right Actions that benefit the Children's Children's Children, the odds are that a child will look at "killing games" as forms of feeding their "Beast of Terror" rather than their "Sentinel of Vigilance."

If a child respects life, and understands that even playing "killing" can warp and pervert one's respect for life, there is a far better chance the child will not seek to "pleasure himself or herself" by playing such a game.

So, if we are outraged about the game JFK Reloaded, we need to first point the finger of outrage at ourselves and ask the question: "What are we doing to nurture and evolve the respect for life amongst our children?"

We have to ask ourselves what are we doing to nurture and evolve respect for life amongst our children

Only after we have exhausted all these options can we justifiably attack the violent video game industry. But, if we perform our roles as Sentinels of Vigilance properly, the market for violence will fall proportionately and we won't have to worry about removing violent games because the desire to play them will reach a positive low.

If you want to commit to anti-violence, become a Sentinel of Vigilance. Take the Pledge of Vigilance.


Go To Yesterday's Story: "Killing The Combat Photographer 38 Years Later"



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