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While perusing the various news and information neighborhoods of Internet-opolis, I’ve come across some things I think everyone would be interested to know.

On the question of whether violence in movies and video games contributes to instances of real-life violence – which I thought had been settled a while ago – from ThinkProgress:

Over the past month or so, the content industries have reacted with remarkable equanimity to the attempt to scapegoat them for American gun violence. Langraf and other television executives have said that they’re open to seeing the results of new studies about the impact of media. Entertainment executives met with Vice President Joe Biden as part of his efforts to shape recommendations to President Obama. While defending free speech, my sense is that many if not all creators and the companies who distribute their work are willing to consider the question of what impact their work has in the real world, and separately but equally importantly, whether violence in their work is creatively rich and justified.

On the relative virtue of plea bargains in the criminal justice system, from The Economist:

Plea bargains such as this have long been part of the American legal system. In theory they work to the benefit of all parties. The defendant admits his guilt and gets a lighter sentence; the prosecutor notches up a win; and the court is spared the time and cost of holding a trial. The reality is far murkier.

Until the early 20th century, plea-bargaining was widely considered corrupt. But as the number of criminal statutes grew, so did the stress on the courts, and the consequent need to avoid endless trials. During Prohibition the number of criminal cases soared: by 1930 almost eight times as many people were prosecuted for violating the National Prohibition Act as were prosecuted for all federal crimes just 16 years earlier, and the vast majority of convictions—around 90% by 1925—resulted from guilty pleas rather than trials. The end of Prohibition brought down both the number of federal criminal cases—from an average of more than 58,000 a year in the 1920s to around 37,000 in the 1950s—and the rate of adjudications through guilty or no-contest pleas, to around 83% by 1945.

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The pro-gun movement – a movement that I tentatively support, at least in sentiment and principle, though not as enthusiastically as some – doesn’t seem to be able to go a full 24 hours (see previous post) without doing something stupid. This one, I think, speaks for itself. You need no characterization from me. You need only to read this, from Wayne LaPierre’s December 21st statement regarding the Newtown shooting, delivered a week after that tragic event:

And here’s another dirty little truth that the media try their best to conceal: There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people.

Through vicious, violent video games with names like Bulletstorm, Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat and Splatterhouse. And here’s one: it’s called Kindergarten Killers. It’s been online for 10 years. How come my research department could find it and all of yours either couldn’t or didn’t want anyone to know you had found it?

To drive home the point with some helpful stats, he added:

A child growing up in America witnesses 16,000 murders and 200,000 acts of violence by the time he or she reaches the ripe old age of 18.

Okay. Let that sink in for a minute. Mull it over. Then read this, from today at The Daily Beast (emphasis mine):

A shooting-range app for the iPhone and iPad branded as an “Official NRA Licensed Product” was released on Jan. 14—the one-month anniversary of the Newtown massacre that left 20 children and seven adults plus the shooter dead. Created by Medl Mobile, NRA: Practice Range is rated for ages 4 and up, according to Apple’s app store.

The free download is set up as shooting range, with three different backdrops to choose from: indoor, outdoor, and a skeet shoot. In each shooting range, the player can choose a type of target: shakey, hotshot or dead eye (not exactly in keeping with the child-friendly idea). After choosing the type of target, the player then chooses the weapon. The 9mm, one of the shooter’s weapons at Newtown, is the first one that shows up; higher-capacity magazines cost $0.99.

Let that sink. Mull.

For the record, questions have been raised as to whether the game is actually connected to the NRA, or if someone’s trading on their name. However, many have been “puzzled that the NRA hasn’t disowned the app if in fact it is a hoax.”

Though the game itself does seem pretty tame by today’s standards, this has got to be the worst public relations time for the NRA to produce a shooting video game.

Strike 2.

An argument that I thought had been more or less settled years ago has raised its ugly and nonsensical head, most vocally by a man who in so doing has been dubbed the Craziest Man On Earth – and rightfully so.

Stephen Marche at The Culture Blog says:

Common sense says as much as any study, though. Widespread mass slaughter by guns is an American disease. Everywhere else in the world consumes American culture voraciously, and yet they don’t have murder as a public-health problem. Canadians and Koreans play more video games than Americans, but manage to rein in their shooting impulses. Ever seen Japanese slasher movies? Or Japanese pornography? It redefines exploitation and disgust. Japan has virtually no gun deaths. Why? One answer — I’m just saying — is that it has virtually no guns.

The study Marche refers to, reported by the Atlantic Wire, concordantly backs him up:

26ae3fa8e130bd1a591e5bad36638189_623x330A more detailed, thorough report by The Washington Post concordantly backs the Atlantic Wire up:

So, what have we learned? That video game consumption, based on international data, does not seem to correlate at all with an increase in gun violence. That countries where video games are popular also tend to be some of the world’s safest (probably because these countries are stable and developed, not because they have video games). And we also have learned, once again, that America’s rate of firearm-related homicides is extremely high for the developed world.

So, case settled. Again.

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