This post was originally going to be in reference to this revelation that a student had been kicked out of school for creating a Counter Strike map closely resembling his school. This was all in the wake of the tragedy at Virginia Tech, when self-possessed individuals were trying to (yet again) blame video games. Thankfully this time around there wasn’t nearly as much traction as there was with the tragedy at Columbine. However, it still doesn’t prevent people from encroaching on free speech and rational behavior to try to correct what they see as wrong in society that might have (in their belief) contributed to the atrocities.
First of all, this student couldn’t have been the first or the last to do something like this. I know even I have thought it would be cool to create within a first person shooter video game a real life place (rather than fictitious) – one that I was familiar with. We’re stepping dangerously close to thought crimes here.
In a parallel situation (minus the tragedy), the knee-jerk reactions to the Imus incident are still being felt. XM Radio (of which I am a subscriber and stock holder) recently suspended their renowned (and infamous) shock jocks Opie & Anthony. I would like to say I’m disgusted with both XM and the advocates out there who are trying to squash freedom of speech. Personally, I never listened to them. I never listened to any shock jocks… I always found them stupid and not funny. But I respect that many people out there enjoy the brand of humor they are selling, and I have the freedom to simply not tune in. On top of it all, this is part of a paid subscriber service, not the public airwaves. Anyone who thinks they would be offended cannot be allowed to take it away from everyone – tyranny of the minority/majority… it could go both ways.
And anyone who argues that this is simply “free markets at work” is full of shit. It wouldn’t be an issue if those few special interest groups found something better to devote their time to (how about global warming!?). By having them put pressure on advertisers, they are killing free speech. Advertisers are not ignorant of the programming of these shows. They are specifically targeting the audience that listens to that brand of humor – usually males under 30.
There is already a few movements decrying this censorship by XM and already waves of people are canceling their subscriptions. I have contacted XM to make my feelings known. I hope they grow a backbone and stand up against censorship.