Playing violent video games doesn’t make you a bad person

It’s strange that people are still looking at this sort of thing because I thought it was fairly clear that playing violent video games doesn’t make you a violent person. I’m not aware of there being any sustained rise in violent behaviour that can be linked to video games, in fact I think there’s been a decrease in violence over the period video games have become popular. When I think of high-crime areas and the people who live there, they don’t seem to be the ones that play video games. It seems like it’s just a knee-jerk response to seeing violence in video games to blame them for societies ills. In any case a study has been published that shows that violent video games don’t diminish prosocial behaviour or, more simply, you aren’t less likely to help someone after playing a violent game. Continue reading

Disgusting behaviour by Hawthorne police

There’s a story getting a lot of attention which I find shocking. Police in Hawthorne, California, while arresting a man shot and killed his dog in the street. You can read the story here and here (The second link contains a video of the incident which could be disturbing for some people). In a nutshell, Leon Rosby was watching the police with the music on his car playing loudly. He refused to turn it down, did not resist arrest but then his dog jumped out the car window to protect him. Supposedly to defend themselves, the police shot and killed it.

Obviously there are a couple of aspects to the story. If a policeman’s life is threatened he should be able to defend himself and that may require deadly force. Rosby should have turned down his radio when instructed. The question then is whether the actions taken were reasonable under the circumstances. I think they were not and constitute excessive use of force. Continue reading

Necessary criticism is not “Islamophobia”

There have been a long string of articles recently that have accused atheists, particularly the big names in atheism, of being Islamophobic:

Conversations about the practical impossibility of God’s existence and the science-based irrationality of an afterlife slid seamlessly into xenophobia over Muslim immigration or the practice of veiling. The New Atheists became the new Islamophobes, their invectives against Muslims resembling the rowdy, uneducated ramblings of backwoods racists rather than appraisals based on intellect, rationality and reason.

There are too many articles and too many angles of attack for me to read them all and respond here, however I’d point you to this post on Why Evolution is True which has rebuttals for 7 of the complaints raised in the articles. Continue reading

Fallout from Innocence of Muslims

I’m sure that by now you’ve heard of the movie, Innocence of Muslims, which has enraged a large number of Muslims all over the globe. Essentially it is a poorly made, anti-Islamic film that is purely made to insult Mohammed. I’ve glanced through the trailer, though not watched it properly, and it’s hard to imagine how anyone could even pay attention to it. It’s just too poorly produced to take seriously as any more than the ranting of one (or maybe a small group) of sad individuals. Some people have taken it seriously, however, and although I was originally planning to ignore it as the same sort of thing that always happens it’s escalated to the point where I feel I should say something. Continue reading

Remember when we talked about violence?

It wasn’t that long ago. I complained about the violence in the country, particularly in strikes, and now I’m seeing something even worse. I’m not talking about when the striking miners later threatened to kill the management, although that’s still unacceptable. Maybe we can at least hope in the future we will be a more peaceful and reasonable people. I kinda hoped that until I heard about six Grade 1 pupils (between six and eight years old) who beat a boy so badly that he had to go to hospital. Continue reading

Move away from the culture of violence

There is a culture of violence in South Africa which is retarding any efforts to move the country forward. Violent protests end up causing more problems than there were originally and, even worse, those aggressive tendencies are manipulated by politicians in order to maintain power. We know there is a problem with violence when we look at crime but at times we become so used to it that we seem to forget to call it out when it happens.

The most notable recent violence has been the Marikana massacre where 34 striking miners were killed by police and around 80 injured. Obviously such an event is a tragedy and there will be an inquiry into the events to find out exactly what happened and what went wrong but one aspect of the problem is already obvious, the culture of violence in South Africa. Whether the police were wrong to respond the way they did I don’t think we can just dismiss what the workers themselves were doing. Professor Pierre de Vos seems quite happy to ignore their actions. Continue reading

Violence in Burma, a lesson for all

When I revealed my blog at a journal club meeting I also made the offer to publish writings by my colleagues. I did get one response to that in the form of a email containing some horrific images of violence from Burma/Myanmar where, in June, there were violent clashes between the Buddhist Rakhine and the minority Islamic Rohingya. I’m not publishing the email here as it was just a forwarded email consisting primarily of pictures and a number of those pictures are far more graphic than I’m comfortable uploading. I did however find the topic to be worth pursuing and so below I’m posting a summary of the conflict and my take on the matter. Continue reading

To be unAfrican seems to me a compliment

When I wrote about The Spear yesterday I said that some people described the painting as “an attack to the very value and moral systems of the majority African people.” I said such criticisms were needed to make sure that we are able to progress in our ethics but now, as more reactions to the painting have come to light, I feel that perhaps that attack on the moral systems of the majority is actually a compliment. Continue reading