(May 2003 - March 2007.) Tama's thoughts on the blogosphere, podcasting, popular culture, digital media and citizen journalism posted from a laptop computer somewhere in Perth's isolated, miniature, urban jungle ...

Colin Barnett on a false Manhunt!

Sunday, August 15, 2004
The ABC News reported tonight that Colin Barnett (or Mr The Fifties Were Too Radical For Me!), the leader of the Liberal Party in Western Australia, is calling for the videogame Manhunt to be banned in WA due to supposed links to a murder in the UK:
The game, called Manhunt, has already been banned in New Zealand, and in England it has been blamed for the murder of a 14-year-old boy. In February, the teenager from Leicestershire was stabbed with a claw hammer by another teenager who was said to be obsessed with the video game. Western Australia's Opposition Leader Colin Barnett says the states should have censorship powers. "To make sure that any material like this that got through the national censorship net could be declassified and therefore removed from sale or hire in Western Australia," he said. Western Australia's Justice Minister Michelle Roberts says she will investigate the matter, but the responsibility lies with the national classification body. "The kinds of things that have been raised with me just today are of concern but classifications are done at a national level and that's where the case will need to be taken up," she said.
Now apart from Colin Barnett fundamentally misunderstanding the relationship between a game and violence (ie the stupidly reductive "games cause violence" notion has been frequently disproven), Barnett waited over two weeks since even The Australian reported on the suggestions that Manhunt was related to a murder. However, if Mr Barnett's crack squad of moral panickers had done their homework, they would have discovered that on August 5th (as reported by the BBC), British police rejected any link between the game and the murder:
Stefan Pakeerah was beaten and stabbed to death by Warren Leblanc, 17, but the motive, say police, was robbery. Leicestershire police have confirmed a copy of the game was found, but in Stefan's' bedroom and not with Leblanc. Stefan's parents blamed the game, which was withdrawn by some high street retailers, following the court case. A Leicestershire constabulary spokesperson said: "Police investigations did not uncover any connections to the computer game. "The motive for the incident was robbery."
So two key points: (1) police stated ten days ago that the game was not linked to the murder;and (2) the victim of the murder was obsessed with the game, not the murderer from all reports! On the off chance Mr Barnett's team need further reason to retract their ridiculous suggestion that WA ban a game that was in fact not linked to a British murder case, the BBC article continues:
For its part, the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers' Association (Elspa), the industry body for the video game industry, has written to Home Secretary David Blunkett about the media coverage of the case. "We have been very concerned recently about the misleading and disingenuous reporting about the effects of playing interactive games software," said Elspa. "As you will know, despite many research projects into the effects of screen violence, some of which have been undertaken by eminent academics in their field, no link with violent behaviour has been found." Elspa said its members took their responsibilities extremely seriously and that they conformed with both the letter and spirit of the law and the strict Codes of Practice.
I look forward to seeing Colin Barnett's face when he is sued by Australian videogame retailers for misleading the public regarding the relationship between their products and violence!


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