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Virginia Tech University shooting triggers debate over negative role of media, culture


19 April, 2007

The gruesome mass killing at the Virginia Tech University in the United States have set people around the world thinking – especially about the reasons and motivations that could have led to the shootings that took 33 innocent lives.

Even as the international community joins the United Sates in mourning the tragedy, reactions have been mixed about the overall cause. Certainly, the incident has given rise to a debate over the negative impact that media and culture has on today’s youth and its possible role in the shootings.

Several people see a connection between the violence-saturated, graphic video games and movies and the recent massacre at the Virginia Tech University.

According to Teresa Tomeo, author of Noise: How Our Media-Saturated Culture Dominates Lives and Dismantles Families, investigators had found a strong connection between violent video games and the Columbine school shootings, as well as other school shootings in the US and Europe.

While law enforcement agencies are yet to determine what motivated the gunman in the Virginia Tech massacre, the evidence on the influence of media violence continues to mount, says Teresa Tomeo.

It may be noted that many organisations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association, have been warning for years about the de-sensitisation that takes place when one is fed a “continual media diet of death and destruction.”

Regarding the influence that media has on this generation, many Christians have not put the blame specifically on violent material but on themselves for allowing that media to exist in the first place.

Greg Stier, president and founder of Dare 2 Share Ministries, remarks in an article: “Movies and video games are getting bloodier and bloodier. And, we just hide under the banter that ‘kids will be kids.’ But, ultimately, it is not just a media thing or a gun thing, but a God thing.”

However, many people condemn this line of thinking, saying that some people are taking advantage of the tragedy to push their political agendas and that what the students need right now is not a lecture on whose fault it is.

“These groups that so quickly have tried to politicise Virginia Tech’s sorrow and loss have a well-documented history of shamelessly dancing in the blood of crime victims to advance their agenda,” Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, said when commenting on the gun control policy.

Some others feel that the issue must be addressed now to ensure that it will not happen again in the future – it is something that must be spoken about. Teresa Tomeo says: “As concerned citizens, parents, educators, and consumers of the media we must get our media usage and that of our families under control. Otherwise, the media will control us.”



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