My Minnesota hometown is the sort of place where neighbors look in on each other and leave the doors unlocked. As in Lake Woebegon, the children are all above average. In September one of those children brought a .22-caliber Colt semiautomatic to school and shot and killed two of his classmates.
As with similar shootings at Columbine and in Kentucky, the media were quick to note that the shooter (in this case 15-year-old Jason McLaughlin) had been an avid video game player. This almost goes without saying. The National Institute on Media and the Family (NIMF) reported that in a survey of 778 students in grades four through 12, 87 percent of all students and 96 percent of the boys said they play video games regularly.
Shortly after the shooting in Cold Spring, I asked my college students about their experience with video games. The young men in the room had a lot to say—video games are a large part of their life.
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).