When Martin Luther King said he hoped to one day inhabit a world where people were judged by the content of their character we went straight loopy for that shit. It’s because what King said was right.  King hit the nail on the head with his sentiments and as a result what he said in front of the Washington monument that day is regarded with great reverence.

If I’ve learned anything in my short existence, however, is that there is a monumental difference between what we accept as a society and our own individual ideosyncracies. Judging someone by the content of their character, as a concept, is dead. Well, at least amongst the media anyway.

There is no greater example of this than the murder of the British teenager Stefan Pakeerah, a 14 year old, by his 17 year old “friend” Warren LeBlanc in 2004. The game “Manhunt” had just been released by Rockstar games and had been garnering major controversy for the violent nature of the content. The shit hit the fan when Pakeerah’s clearly grief stricken mother said the murderer had been obsessed with the game.

Of course, the media acted in a responsible and balanced way to a mother struggling to cope with her sons violent death. By that I mean they all jumped on Gr(ief)avy train and embarked on a witch hunt against the video games industry. Without a shred of empirical evidence the British media found Manhunt guilty of accomplice to murder.

The truth, not that the facts ever stopped the media from stirring shit, was that Pakeerah was murdered as a result of a drug related robbery. That isn’t me pulling that from my ass, it’s the police that said so. Hold up though, the police did say they found a copy of Manhunt… in Stefan Pakeerah’s room. LeBlanc didn’t even own the fucking game.

The point of this rambling case study is that in our haste to find someone, or something, blame we forgot to look at the people involved. Warren LeBlanc is clearly a violent and angry dude. He murdered Stefan Pakeerah. Not Manhunt, not Rockstar games, not the video games industry. Instead of condemning someone for an act of evil, people went about blaming a glorified piece of computer code.

We go around blaming other factors for our own and others behaviour. We seem to forget that shit people do shit things. Whilst that might seem like a startlingly unintelligent credo it’s the truth.  When I play Call of Duty I’m out to gun down as many Russian/Muslims/Russian Muslims ( the only acceptable villains according to Call of Duty) as I possibly can. Why haven’t I strolled into an elementary school and opened fire? Why are countless people able to watch violent films and walk out the cinema and act like civilised human beings?

As a society we’re allergic to taking our share of the blame for the fuck ups amongst us. It’s not us that created a me first culture – where parents would rather go out and get hammered than raising their fucking children right – that’s at blame. It’s violent video games! It’s rock and roll! It’s satanism! It’s the internet! It sure isn’t our fault though. Yes siree, we’ll rather cover up our societal inadequacies with a good ol’ fashioned moral panic.

Whatever helps you sleep at night.

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