Editorial roundup

Editorial roundup

March 11

The Boston Herald on the purported link between violent video games and real-life violence:

President Trump used the shooting in Parkland, Florida, to convene a group at the White House last week to discuss the possible nexus between violent video games and actual violence, despite the lack of conclusive evidence that such a nexus exists. No less an authority than the U.S. Supreme Court said in 2011 there is no “compelling” link.

And talk about going from the trivial to the titanic — the video game meeting was on the same day the president said he will meet for direct talks with the repressive leader of nuclear-armed North Korea. Hey, the president gets to pick his priorities — and it seems that in addition to meeting with Little Rocket Man one of his main goals is shifting the focus away from gun control to other “causes” of school violence.

The president is not alone in his concern about the impact of violent video games on young people. President Obama raised similar concerns when he was in office.

But even if the research were on Trump’s side — then what?

In that landmark Supreme Court case overturning a California law in 2011 the high court declared that video games represent a form of speech protected under the First Amendment, and said California couldn’t carve out a violence exemption. We realize this president doesn’t have much use for the First Amendment, but even he doesn’t have the power to wipe “Call of Duty” or “Grand Theft Auto” off store shelves.

And so what the meeting amounted to was a gripe-fest — a distraction from Trump’s own mixed messages on gun control. It was also a sop to folks like National Rifle Association head Wayne LaPierre, who has famously castigated entertainment companies for inciting violence.

In other words, it was a waste of time.

Online: http://www.bostonherald.com/


March 8

The Richmond Times-Dispatch on the rise of fake video:

If you thought fake news was bad, better hold on to your hat. It’s only going to get worse.

The New York Times reports that technology has advanced to the point that, with some off-the-web software and a little effort, people can now create fake videos. They are not yet sophisticated enough to fool the careful observer, but that will change. Once, it took a huge Hollywood studio to create a clip of Forrest Gump shaking hands with John F. Kennedy. Soon anyone will be able to do it in her basement.

This means that in the near future it will be possible to create, say, a video clip that seems to show a political candidate confessing to murder, or kicking a puppy, or doing something even worse, like rooting for the Dallas Cowboys.

Most people probably will use the technology the way they use face-swapping apps now: to post funny things on social media. But others could cause a great deal of mayhem. Imagine a candidate for the state legislature having to prove, say, that he never threw up in a strip club when a video purports to show him doing just that.

The potential for havoc is huge. Still, there is an upside: Fake videos, like fake news generally, could renew interest in epistemology: the study of knowledge — of how we know what we know and whether we are justified in knowing it. This isn’t to say dollar stores will start selling T-shirts of Edmund Husserl and Willard V.O. Quine. But optimistically, a few philosophy professors might want to get ready for their close-up.

Online: http://www.richmond.com/

Editorial roundup