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Does Violence in Fiction Trigger Real Life Violence?

by James Schannep

Okay, here goes. We can all agree that senseless gun violence is atrocious and that mental health needs to be addressed in our country. Don’t worry, this is not a rant about the Second Amendment. It is, however, a rant about the revitalized call to ban violence in movies, television, video games, and other forms of entertainment.

Censorship has a long history in this country, one we’ve largely managed to conquer. Maybe that’s why “violent books” get a pass in this proposed boycott. Maybe it’s understood that books are meant to teach us something, whereas videogames put your finger behind the trigger.

INFECTED and PATHOGENS, my survive-your-own zombie apocalypse gamebooks, can often turn violent. They put you at the heart of adrenaline-fueled deplorable choices. But it’s adult entertainment, and I think that should be the point. How about instead of banning adult entertainment, we call for parents to take an active role in screening their children’s entertainment?

There’s no evidence that a violent game incites violent behavior. I know violent entertainment has never made me fear for my life, nor has it made me consider taking the life of another. Just as playing tug-o-war with your dog won’t make him want to rip out your jugular. Riding a roller coaster shouldn’t make you want to jump off a cliff. In fact, it should do the opposite. The itch should be scratched. Fortunately, we live in a world where few people meet violent ends. In some ways, experiencing this in a fantastical environment should highlight just how lucky we are.

Maybe you disagree. That’s fine. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. And if you don’t think your kids should watch it, don’t let them. But don’t try to ban any forms of expression or entertainment. Please. We have rating systems for a reason.

Check out Pathogens by James Schannep now and survive your own zombie apocalypse.

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Jay Wilburn
Jay Wilburn has a Masters Degree in Education that goes mostly unused since he quit teaching to write about zombies. Jay writes horror because he tends to find the light by facing down the darkness. He finds the journey through life easier by having you join him. Jay is the author of 2 series: The Dead Song Legend and The Great Interruption. He cowrote The Enemy Held Near with Armand Rosamilia. You can also find Jay's work in Best Horror of the Year volume 5 and Dark Moon Digest. Each year Jay has the pleasure of featuring many great authors in the genre through the Summer and Winter of Zombie blog tours on his website.

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  1. Joan MacLeod says:

    Using the violence you’ve seen in a movie or tv show, read in a book or listened to in a song is just a piss poor excuse for the fault in you. The violence was already in the heart or soul of the offender. Take responsibility for what you’ve done. I agree parents should be the watchdogs of what their children see, read or listen to. Great blog.

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