Little known fact: CDs burn at 451 degrees, too.

At least that's what the manual from my Congressman's office said. In the late 2000s, a bipartisan legislature decided to make the ESRB and MPAA regulatory bodies, after learning violent and sexually explicit media proved harmful to the nation's youth. Years later, kids were still coming into contact with perverse media, and another bill was passed, officially labeling movies, books, and games more extreme than Walker Texas Ranger as "snuff;" possession became an arrest-able offense, and a sprawling black market was born.

Scientific evidence challenging the notion that suggestive topics and content don't turn children into sociopaths was published by leading news organizations. Children were found reading these arguments, and became agitated by the findings. Clearly, mainstream media that disagrees with the government was instilling a rebellious faction among the nation's youth, potentially turning our precious children into domestic terrorists. Congress and the Supreme Court agreed: anti-government sentiments weren't protected by the First Amendment, because their very utterance could be construed as assault upon the public.

Alright, that's enough of my own alarmism for now. But if we don't pay attention to what's happening just beyond our living rooms, a scenario similar to my descent into tin foil hat-wearing conspiracy theory might not be as preposterous as you think. Alarmist leaders and community members have been around long before Chicken Little was dreamt up in folk lore, but modern day politicians and special interest groups have evolved from a simple "The sky is falling!" to sensational rhetoric more akin to "Incoming! We got Charlie all around us and artillery shells are exploding overhead!"

"Modern" cases of entire generations unnecessarily fixating on harmless fun go back to the Prohibition Era. By claiming its negative effects were detrimental to society, members of a group called the Temperance Movement were able to bully politicians into nationally banning the production and sale of alcohol. This movement declared that the only way to save America was to rid it of the scourge of alcohol completely. The inevitable rise of organized crime eventually led to the ban being lifted. It turned out that the negative effects of Prohibition were worse than the negative effects of alcohol..

Fast forward 25 years. The same young, white people who ended the Prohibition got older, and began fighting a new demon the Temperance Movement never could have dreamed of: rock and roll. For the first time, white kids were being exposed to black music on a grand scale, setting the older generation on edge. Buddy Holly's plane crashed; Elvis was drafted and returned a country singer; and Frank Sinatra called them both communists before the dust settled. This tentative truce stayed in place until the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) formed in 1985 and had it out with Frank Zappa on C-span. This time, the dust never completely cleared and the people who fought music that brought joy to many, learned from their battles.

So here we are, 50 years after rock and roll, and we're faced with a terrible, new "threat" to our culture: gaming. True, gangsta rap is again exposing white kids to dangerous black music, but this time children are protected by a black-and-white label reading "Explicit Lyrics." The V-Chip is on hand to protect kids from Christina Aguilera videos. But that mysterious Xbox is a den of inequity with no protection in place at all. Just ask Jack of those numbers people, here they are: The ten-year period between 1992 and 2002 yielded a 66% decline of violent crime committed by children ages 10 to 17. That's almost twice the rate of decrease of violent crime among Americans in general, which only yielded a 35% decline. It hardly seems gaming has transformed our children into the violent little devils some might have you believe.

Comments on