Video Game Violence

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So my friends at The Washington Post are at it again. No it’s not about me this time but you’ll see the connection if you’ve been reading this site. (Yeah, right.)

 I read an article run in the daily newspaper that was run in the Post on 8/12/2000. The article was an opinion piece about how video game manufacturers are marketing their merchandising for M rated video games towards pre-schoolers. Now I thought it was just another article saying that the government should be the watchers of our children and not the parents until I saw this quote concerning ratings…

“More concretely, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) have introduced a Uniform Ratings Bill and are planning to hold hearings on it after the FTC report comes out. This bill would mandate an end to the current hodgepodge of ratings systems and require that Hollywood, the video game industry and music industry work together to create a single ratings system. If the industries fail to come up with such a system, the FTC would be authorized to establish one.”

Notice a familiar name in there? That’s right kiddies. Our fair senator from Connecticut is not only concerned about pro-wrestling but he seems to be meddling in the affairs of one of my other loves, video games.

Again I say it is the parents responsibility to know what games your children are playing. Just like you should know what TV shows they’re watching. No excuses. And don’t give me any crap about how you’re too busy. You should always have time for your kids.

Senator Joe on Wrestling

So I’m checking out one of my least favorite wrestling sites at SCOOPS. (No longer exists) And the author of the article I was reading said he was watching the Sunday morning news shows and saw Sen. Joseph Lieberman say this….

‘I’m going to keep saying that to them and appealing to them to draw a line. And I can assure you … a Gore-Lieberman administration will be concerned about what government can do within appropriate constitutional limits to improve the moral future of America.’

Appropriate constitutional limits? Correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t the First Amendment guarantee the freedom of expression without fear of government reprisal? So this man (and Tipper) is going to decide what I can or can not watch on TV, or movies, or the internet? Big Brother is close at hands my friend. (For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about read 1984 by George Orwell.)

I said it before and I’ll say it again, a vote for Gore is a vote for censorship.

Al and Joe = Censorship

So I know I haven’t written lately, (not like anyone is really reading this), because things have been sailing pretty smoothly for yours truly.

I got married on July 30th, but my wife is still 642 miles away. So I’m busy searching for a new job to be with her.

I was going to write about the dumbass, tree hugging, no job having, no real point protesters that were here in Philthy for the RNC but everyone and their grandmother has written about that so I’ll write today about something that seriously pissed me off today. One personal, one not so personal. The not so personal first.

Vice President Al Gore chose his running mate recently. One Senator Joseph Lieberman from Connecticut. Not much is known about him but I do know a little bit about him. Sen. Lieberman is on the board of an organization known as the PTC. What the PTC does is it recommends what TV shows are suitable for family viewing and pressures the advertisers of shows that it finds offensive. For those of us in our 30’s does this sound familiar? One specific show they targeted is WWF Smackdown on the UPN Network. This happens to be one of my favorite shows. Granted this show is not what I would call family viewing and I believe that it should not be viewed by anyone under 15. But, it is the parents responsibility to monitor your child’s viewing habits. Not the governments and certainly not the PTC’s. If you don’t know what your child is watching than your just a bad parent, bottom line.

Rewind to about 1985 I believe. There was a senator from Tennessee whose wife organized a coalition to censor lyrics in rock and rap music. That senator was Al Gore and his wife Tipper Gore. (Do you see where I’m headed with this?) We haven’t heard from Tipper in a while have we? Just biding her time until she got to the White House perhaps?.

I almost was going to vote for Al Gore because he was a Vietnam vet and I believe that our Commander-in-Chief should have military experience. But now there’s no way I would vote for him. A vote for Al Gore is a vote for censorship. I’m not asking you to vote for Bush, I’m just asking you to not vote for Gore.

Welcome to the union Comrade

Yes, I’m back after a lengthy absence. (Like anyone is reading this.) I had to get TheTrenchCoat.Org in order before I could continue my lunatic ravings.

Speaking of my creative alter-ego I found another article calling the American media to task for being quick to point fingers at my old site in the wake of the Columbine tragedy. Again it’s not from this country. It’s from France of all places. The article can be found here. Run it through AltaVista’s translator. The translation is far from perfect but you’ll get the idea.

So here in Philthadelphia, PA (white trash capital of the northeast) the city union workers are planning to go on strike during the Republican Convention. Which means no garbage pick up and the streets will be lined with trash. More so than usual even. That got me to thinking about unions. In the beginning unions were a great idea. A group of workers get together to protect themselves from being overworked and underpaid. If said workers are working under substandard conditions than a work stoppage occurs bringing that industry to a halt until workers and management can sort something out. But since then, like everything else in the world, unions became corrupt. To me working for a union would be like living in a communist country. They tell you who to vote for, where to shop, what to buy, etc. Almost like a cult. I mean who else besides a cult gets violent towards its opposition. There was a famous case in Phillthy last year where a man protesting a Clinton rally was almost beat to death by Clinton supporting union members. There’s a passage in the Bible about zealots that I can’t remember off the top of my head but I’m sure it applies. So if you’re joining a union anytime soon say goodbye to America.

Poison Godmachine by Nevermore

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I got a new CD last week. The CD isn’t new but it’s new to me. Its called “Dreaming Neon Black” by Nevermore. I highly recommend this for anybody who is a Queensryche or Savatage fan.

Anyway, there is a song on the CD called “Poison Godmachine” which I really identified with. Here are the lyrics and you’ll see why:

The media machine knows what to do
It knows how to feed the poison in you
Useless information for your useless little lives
The tv lies and pacifies

Do you believe everything you see?
Children of the void come follow me
Denounce your faith and penance the savior is unseen
I am the new drug, your poison godmachine…poison

Poison Godmachine

Poison is a word, God is a word used for fear

In subtlety we obey through ink and broadcast wave
The doubts and fears that shadow media decay
Deprogram this affliction and the cathode ray unclean
I am the last nail, the empty soulless screen…soulless

Poison Godmachine

And we eat the poison, we created the poison godmachine

Wow! Pretty powerful stuff huh? Remind you of anyone you know? So check out the CD. And I know, one of these days I’ll do a rant not related to the media. Until then. It’s been your pleasure.

Columbine Related Suicide

I read an Associated Press article in my local newspaper today about another Columbine student who had committed suicide recently. Let me preface this by saying again that my condolences go out to this child’s family and to all families affected by this tragedy.

But again I have to call the media to task. The boy was a 17-year-old basketball player. I’m sure he’ll be missed by friends and family and again I mean no disrespect. But in the second paragraph of the article it had to mention that the suicide occurred a year and two weeks after the April 20, 1999 Columbine shooting. I mean is that really necessary? Like anyone will ever forget when that shooting took place. It’s the Pearl Harbor Day of this generation.

Then the article goes on to give the details of the suicide. There was also mention in the article that grief counselors said that the suicide should not automatically be linked to the shooting noting that suicide is one of the leading causes of death among people in their teens and early twenties.

In my opinion the article should have ended right there. The article than goes on to rehash the shooting, the suicide of the paralyzed student’s mother, and the teen couple who were shot in a fast food place. Again I ask was that necessary? If I find a link to the article I will post it.

Columbine Backlash

(A year after Columbine I wrote this as my reaction to being improperly associated with the gunmen. You have to keep in mind I was suffering deeply from depression at the time. I now realize that the problems I went through at the time were mostly my fault.)

I thought I’d open my first rant with a personal story about what happened to me after Columbine. But first click here to read the Washington Post article where my site was mentioned.

Are you back? Ok. Good. After that article was printed I e-mailed the reporter letting him know that I didn’t appreciate being connected to such a senseless and tragic event. Also, I didn’t appreciate one of my works being taken out of context. As an aside, “Death Of A Jester” was written about me becoming more serious in my professional life instead of trying to be funny all the time. Instead of receiving an apology I received this:

“Thanks very much for your note. I’d be most appreciative if you could call me at 202 XXX XXXX to discuss your site and the meaning of the Trenchcoat.”

My reply was to him a polite thanks but you’ve ruined my life enough. Suffice to say I never called. An apology was never given, a retraction never printed.

I’ve been told that other media outlets also mentioned my site. Such as CNN, ABC, the BBC, etc. But the reason I always single out The Post is because it’s the only one I have concrete proof of my writing being used without my permission.

Now, The Post was the newspaper that broke the Watergate scandal back in the 70’s and caused the downfall of a president. Fast forward 25 years and their investigative skills consist of paraphrasing an internet “poet” to make good copy. If Woodward and Bernstein were dead they’d be rolling in their graves. Also, notice he didn’t quote any of my writings about love or dreams. That wouldn’t have been a “story”.

After receiving the death threats and having my friends threatened, I kind of had other things on my mind. It affected me at my job. I ended up screwing up a major account for the company I worked for. My blunder cost the company thousands. Needless to say I was no longer employed after that. Then I couldn’t find a job. Then my car was repossessed. Then I was evicted. I was about to go live on the streets but luckily my family was willing to take me in, but they lived 642 miles away. Which meant leaving my girlfriend behind. That was 8 months ago. Strangely enough we’re still together.

Anyway Mr. Reporter, you want to know the meaning of TheTrenchcoat, well here it is. As I’ve mentioned several times, growing up all my heroes wore trenchcoats. When I finally got one of my own at 17 it felt great. To me it was like wearing a cape, like I was Batman. It gave me confidence, women started noticing me more, and it looks damn cool. That’s it. That’s the big answer you were looking for. Thanks again for ruining my life.

The point? There is none. This is just something I had to get off my chest. If there is any point it’s probably don’t believe everything you read…especially in The Post.

Foreword

(This is story about what happened to me following Columbine)

Greetings. For those of you visiting for the first time this is my world. It’s not much to look at but its home. For those of you who have been here before welcome back. I always like repeat customers. Except the Washington Post that is. So sit back. Relax. May I light your cigarette? For I am about to tell you a true story before letting you wander about.

I grew up an outcast. Small in stature as a child. Not socially acceptable as an adolescent. Thinks differently as an adult.

So to deal with my status as a pariah I turned to writing. When I was a teen I tried my hand at writing lyrics for songs. The earlier works you find in here were those attempts at songwriting. When I was in my early 20’s I went through a severe case of writers block. In my late 20’s my gift returned to me thanks to a friend. My new style was more dark, more depressing, more realistic. Yes I write about feelings that a lot of people wish I didn’t. But not everything is sweetness and light. This is the real world and in the real world people hurt.

In 1997 I started my first web site. I wanted to use a pseudonym that was dark and mysterious yet romantic and non-threatening. Most of my heroes growing up wore long coats. Sherlock Holmes, The Shadow, The Question, The Punisher, John Constantine, Highlander, Jack Deth, etc. Hence TheTrenchcoat was born.

I enjoyed a little success with my first page. It was featured in my old ISP’s newsletter. Then something beyond my control changed all that.

April 20, 1999. A day most of us will not forget. Two teenagers opened fire on Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. They called themselves “The Trench Coat Mafia”. They were described by the media as being “goths”. Since my site was gothic in nature and had the word Trenchcoat in the title, the media erroneously reported that my site belonged to the gunmen.Truth be told I’m not even a true “goth”. I am more Von Helsing than vampire.

One newspaper even printed one of my works on the front page without my permission. A lot of people have told me I should seek legal action but I don’t want my friends and family dragged into court.

My site was deluged with visitors. In my e-mail and guestbook I received death threats and pleas for the victims. One in particular that sticks out in my mind was from a guy who said “We had freaks like you in high school.” Apparently some people never learn. After I realized what had happened I put up a disclaimer on my site stating that no matter what the media said I was not part of the TCM. It didn’t help. People still think I had some sort of connection with them. Friends of mine that were linked on my page also received harassing e-mails. It was then I decided to take the site down. Two years of work and fifteen years of writing were all in vain.

In no way is any of this meant as disrespect towards the victims and their families. What happened was a true tragedy. My condolences go out to the victims and their families.

The Washington Post Article

(This was the Washington Post Article from the day after Columbine that got me started on my strange journey.)

Gunmen Recalled as Outcasts

By Marc Fisher
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 21, 1999; Page A1

The shooters who turned Columbine High School into an unspeakable landscape of carnage yesterday were members of a small clique of outcasts who always wore black trench coats and spent their entire adolescence deep inside the morose subculture of Gothic fantasy, their fellow students said.

Students at the Colorado school said the gunmen, whom police say may have turned their weapons on themselves after killing as many as 25 of their schoolmates and teachers, were a constant target of derision for at least four years.

“They’re basically outcasts, Gothic people,” said Peter Maher, a junior who had a confrontation last July 4 with the shooters and several of their fellow members of the “Trench Coat Mafia,” the black-clad teenagers’ name for their clique. “They’re into anarchy. They’re white supremacists and they’re into Nostradamus stuff and Doomsday.”

Several students said the shooters ? whose names were withheld by police but who are believed to have graduated from Columbine last year ? were deeply into death ? talking, reading and dreaming about it.

Black trench coats are a consistent theme in the Gothic subculture that has attracted many teenagers to the poetry, music and costumes of a scene that ranges from benign fantasy to violent reality.

Inspired by fantasy games such as Dungeons and Dragons, Gothic has become a fascination of many American high schoolers, some of whom simply dress and paint their fingernails black while others immerse themselves in a pseudo-medieval world of dark images.

On Web sites featuring poetry called “The Written Work of the Trenchcoat” and in political tracts and other elements of the conspiratorial imagination, trench coats serve as a symbol for things from Hitler and the Nazis to mass murder to suicidal fantasies. Yesterday was Hitler’s birthday, an occasion for demonstrations, mock funerals and other macabre commemorations among both neo-Nazis and parts of the Gothic scene.

When the young men started shooting yesterday, tenth-grader Mindy Pollock was in the school parking lot. She saw two shooters firing their guns repeatedly, and she watched as her fellow students dropped to the pavement.

She said she couldn’t believe it was real, especially since she had once before seen this same boy pull a gun on some of her friends. “The one with the handgun today pulled a shotgun on my friends once. He said he was sick of being made fun of,” she said. “He said, ‘I’ll shoot you, I’ll shoot you.'” Pollock said her friends tried to calm the boy and then ran from him.

Maher and two of his friends were at a fireworks stand in Littleton July 4 when the Trench Coat Mafia boys approached them and said they had a shotgun. Maher and his friends saw no gun, but the trench coat boys did pull knives and tried to fight with the others. Maher said he and his friends had had no previous contact with the boys in black.

“We didn’t want to fight, so we talked to them for a while and then we just got out of there,” Maher said.

Several students described the Trench Coat Mafia members in similar terms: They wore their trench coats every day, no matter the weather, even in class. Under the coats, they dressed in black from head to toe ? military berets, T-shirts, jeans, combat boots. Red shoelaces and the occasional Confederate flag patch were the only departure from the dark theme.

“They were kind of the freaks of the school,” said Kendra Curry, a senior.

Pollock and other students described the Trench Coat Mafia as a group of perhaps six to ten students who were constantly being ribbed by the school’s athletes and other, more popular cliques.

“The athletes and stuff are really popular,” Pollock said. “They make fun of me all the time because I wear bell-bottoms and I’m a little hippy girl. And they’d make fun of the Trench Coat Mafia. They’d say, ‘White trash,’ and ‘Why don’t you comb your hair?’ and ‘Are you Gothic, man?’ and ‘You need some new clothes.’ Just stupid teenage stuff.”

Maher, too, said athletes at Columbine routinely teased the trench-coated students, muttering “Goth” every time they passed one another in the hallways.

Students said the Gothic look appeals only to a tiny minority of young people in the Denver suburb. “They kind of stay by themselves,” said junior Evan Vitale. “They always have the neo-Nazi look, so we were talking about them and Hitler’s birthday even before the shooting started. Everybody knew it was Hitler’s birthday.”

On one such Web site, a skeleton dances over a raging inferno and the words “The Trenchcoat.” Below, a poem called “Death of a Jester” includes these lines:

“There will be no performance today/There will be no curtain call/He can no longer perform for you/So witness the grandest spectacle of all/It’s a one night engagement/So make your way to the front row/It’s the death of a jester/It’s one dead man’s show.

“There are no mourners today/Only spectators at the scene/Relishing in this bizarre event . . . /He died from no acclaim/I heard his dying words/As his final breath he gave/He wanted to be taken seriously/Now he’s taken to the grave.”

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company