Letters to the Editor

Sounding off on shooters and shrinks; Linux fans shouldn't trust Mindcraft.

Published May 13, 1999 4:00PM (EDT)

The shooters and the shrinks



One of Mark Boal's reference points is a study on computer game violence done in 1985. A study done in
1985 couldn't take into consideration the extraordinary realism of games
today, nor could it have anticipated the celebration of gore that
informs the advertising for such games. I not only monitor the games my
7- and 10-year-old children play, I even monitor the gaming magazines I
permit them to peruse, because the violent images are so gruesome that
it disgusts me. While I certainly
don't support censorship, I find it painful that these ultra-violent,
ultra-realistic games are so available. I think children can just as
easily discharge their so-called aggressions with games that are
competitive, challenging and enjoyably reckless, like the Off Road
Racing game. The level of grisly, predatory bloodiness that many games
promote degrades the phrase "game." Why would anybody defend such stuff?

-- Fran Liscio

Boal's article on the connection between video games and
violence completely missed the point. He was quick to criticize Maj.
David Grossman's book, "On Killing," but he clearly has not read a word
of it (indeed, he did not even give its title).

Grossman's theory on video games is not that they make people
violent, but that they lower the resistance to pulling a trigger. The
military has had a long-standing problem with getting people to pull the
trigger. Most people think too much before
shooting. Video games
make that trigger-pulling reaction an immediate response, one that
bypasses the normal safeguards that keep us from killing. These games
are identical to the training that elite forces go through to get them
to kill instantly in close-quarters combat.

-- Leif A. Torkelsen

Princeton, N.J.

We are all page-view whores now


How predictable that Mike Barnicle's colleague(s) would take cheap shots at
him for daring to discuss God in his recent articles. Even cheaper to make
snide comments about his departure from the Boston Globe. Barnicle's career
situation is not important to us "less intellectual types." What is of
importance is that he dares to come down off the journalistic high horse and
write about subjects that matter to us -- God's role in our
lives, the struggles of parenting in today's cultural climate and the absurd
situation our president has gotten us into in the Balkans. We don't hear
discussion about such topics with clarity and without arrogance in many
places. But perhaps it did not occur to Poniewozik that the readership
is in fact smart enough to recognize good journalism when we read it, and
that we rate it accordingly.

-- Michelle Jackson

Santa Clara, Calif.

Poniewozik writes, "As we get better and better at giving readers exactly
what they want, what will be the percentage in trying
to give readers what we think they need? "

Back in the old days of print journalism, folks with
money and an "ax to grind" started newspapers and used
their publication as a means to promote their agendas.

Today, folks with no money can start a publication on
the Internet to express themselves. There's no guarantee they'll make money at it, but if they fill a need, it's
possible that they could.

-- Frances McKenzie

Publisher, Qi Gong News

Rematch at the NT vs. Linux corral

Linux users are right to be suspicious of Mindcraft. In a previous study
commissioned by Microsoft, Mindcraft claimed that Apple programming errors and not Microsoft
shenanigans were behind difficulties using
QuickTime 3 with Internet Explorer 4.0. They even posted a "fix." But as the Register, an
industry publication, detailed in an article last November, the "fix" used
unsupported Netscape information and other information unavailable to Apple or anyone but Microsoft and
Mindcraft. Looks like nothing's changed.

-- Michael Snider

More bad news for California's GOP


All the talk about impeachment, voter registration, and changing demographics
fudges the real reason Republican James Rogan will not be returned to
Congress: People in his district are actually looking at his voting record, which is one
of the most conservative in Congress.

On abortion, creationism, guns and the environment, he's out of step, even
with main-line Republican voters in the district. Because of his allegedly
moderate image, he got a long free ride from the news media in L.A. and
Washington. His role in the impeachment business drew attention to him, though. He's outed himself as an extremist.

-- Hugh Esten


Will Macedonia unravel?


Great article, but it still pains me to read "Albanian refugees" and then
"Haitian boat people." I realize that at the time of the crisis, most
American media referred to the Haitian refugees as "boat people," but that
doesn't make it right then -- and to have the opportunity to correct that now
and overlook that same opportunity, well, it's downright disappointing.
Yes, it is a racial issue. Even if Albania or Kosovo were islands, I would
bet my life that they wouldn't be referred to as mere "boat people."

-- Marisa Williams

Queen of the cross-dressers

Stephanie Zacharek questioned the
historical accuracy of removable sleeves on Joseph Fiennes' jacket: "I'm not
sure zip-off sleeves existed as an option in the late 1500s, but it's an
idea whose time should have come long ago." In fact, sleeves were
considered separate items of clothing, which tied or laced to the vest part
of the jacket or bodice. While Sandy Powell may have taken some liberties
in other parts of the costuming, this wasn't one of them.

-- Crystal Trexel

Endangered congressman?


I find it odd that Tapper did not mention all of the other candidates U.S.
Term Limits has targeted and failed to remove. Just last week the group
failed again in an effort to have an impact in Louisiana. The story on
Term Limits seems to be what a paper tiger it's turned out to be.

-- Kathleen Gratehouse

By Letters to the Editor

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