Sounding off: Video games are to blame for school shootings
Another school shooting. That makes 22 so far in 2018, and the year isn't even half over yet.
The Columbine shooting happened in 1999. What happened in the 1990s that made those two boys, and many like them since, react to their problems by going to school and shooting their classmates?
In the 1990s, violent video games began featuring graphic, gratifying violence, “rewarding” users for killing. Players on social media began rewarding others with accolades for “high kill” scores. Peer rewards also came for watching violent, graphic movies: While girls covered their eyes or said their stomachs turned when a character was decapitated or disemboweled, boys kept their eyes on the screen to prove they could “take it.”
This steady diet of soul-eroding violence and gore and the peer-reward system that goes along with it — and is so important to vulnerable — must be stopped or the shootings won't end.
Will we have the courage to stop this runaway train by demanding a ban on the making, marketing and use of violent movies and video games? Come on, America. We work hard to keep sexual materials out of the hands of teens. Shouldn't we be doing the same with the violence and gore that is programming our vulnerable young people to kill?
Sue Nease, Unity
Russia, teacher pay, tax cuts and more
My thoughts about some recent news items.
• Both Russia and the United States meddle in foreign elections; why do we condemn Russia for what we also engage in?
• Regarding the article “Poll: Amid strikes, Americans back teacher raises” (April 29, TribLIVE): I think teachers receive adequate compensation for a job that comes with three months' paid vacation, holidays, sick days, medical insurance and a lucrative retirement plan. If that isn't enough, rather than strike, just quit and seek employment better suited to your needs.
There are many teachers waiting for an opportunity to fill your position.
• Along with the recent price increase for your paper, I notice a definite shift from slightly balanced to an extreme liberal view on abortion, homosexuality, drugs and family values. It's sort of like reading the local version of The New York Times.
• Many recent letters from liberals who worship at the altar of Hillary Clinton provided more laughs than an “I Love Lucy” rerun.
• When was the last time we had a tax cut from a Democratic president? JFK comes to mind; he was killed in 1963.
• I refuse to believe that everything Israel does is good and everything the Palestinians do is bad. I think there are both good and bad on both sides. Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has been trying to get us to fight their war for years. Let's hope President Trump is smart enough to recognize our limitations in this war.
Rudy Gagliardi, Arnold
King Midas in reverse has struck again. Against the pleas of many small metal forging companies who buy their specialty steel and aluminum from overseas, President Trump is imposing tariffs on imports. It is odd, though, that “Builder Trump” had no problem with cheap foreign steel and aluminum when he was using it for his projects in the '80s and '90s.
Joe Lucas, South Side
Clean Air Fund is meant to protect air
The Allegheny County Health Department's Air Quality Program collects fines from companies that violate air-quality regulations. These violations contribute to the region having some of the unhealthiest air in the nation. Thankfully, over the past 15 years, these fines, kept in the department's Clean Air Fund, have financed local pollution-reduction programs.
My organization received a small grant to train community members to evaluate smoke emanating from local stacks. Other grants have funded studies of air quality and upgraded dirty diesel engines. I support using every penny of the fund for similar direct-action programs. That's why I'm appalled that the Board of Health recently decided to use some of these fines to renovate the Air Quality Program's office building (“More money from Allegheny County's ‘Clean Air Fund' goes to office renovation”).
The county has owned this building since 1957 and it needs to be repaired. However, the county must maintain it just like its roads, bridges and parks. The county can afford it: The rainy day fund holds $44 million, and County Council just approved $114 million for infrastructure bonds.
Our air causes high childhood asthma rates and elevated cancer risk, yet the board chose to take money away from pollution-reduction efforts. The board will vote on the full renovation project later this year. We hope members will recognize their duty to ensure that the Clean Air Fund be used to protect and clean our air.
Rachel Filippini, Edgewood
The writer is executive director of the Group Against Smog and Pollution (gasp-pgh.org).
‘Interview' tips for Robert Mueller
Perhaps when Special Counsel Robert Mueller “interviews” President Trump he could borrow a page from “prosecutor” and “legal eagle” Roland Freisler, who ran the “People's Court” proceedings in Hitler's Nazi Germany in the 1940s.
Put Trump under hot lights so he'll sweat and squirm, and broadcast the kangaroo court live so the nation can witness, play by play, the coup d'etat that destroys our democracy.
For entertainment, Mueller can mimic Freisler by confiscating Trump's belt on the pretext that “Mr. Trump might attempt to harm himself.” Then, when the duly elected Trump attempts to hold up his pants, Mueller can scream at him (for cameras), “Stop fiddling with your pants, you degenerate Russian-KGB agent pervert and Putin stooge!”
Or borrow a page from the Salem, Mass. witch trials of the 1600s and throw Trump into a swimming pool to see if he “floats”? Mueller and his “prosecutors” can wear black robes and CNN anchors Brian Stelter, Jake Tapper, Wolf Blitzer and Chris Cuomo can broadcast the show live. For added gravitas Mueller and the CNN gang can don those pink hats worn by the Women's Marchers; it would fit the character of the court.
“This is Wolf Blitzer live, as President Trump is thrown into water!”
Cuomo: “Doth he float?”
Tapper: “He floateth!”
Stelter: “ It is true! Trump the Russian witch floateth!”
As Joe Stalin's psychotic, bloodthirsty chief of the NKVD secret police Lavrentiy Beria said in the 1930s, “Show me the man, I'll find you the crime.”
God save our democracy.
Carol Colpo, Burgettstown
D-Day: Never forget
June 6, 1944, D-Day. The invasion of France by the Allies to get the Nazis out of France and keep them from invading Britain. Very few Americans are alive today who participated in the invasion. They would be over 90. I've met three in the past month. If any of those veterans are in your family, tell them they are real heroes and how proud you are of them. Chances are you don't know much about what they did. They didn't talk much about it.
To most Americans, D-Day was a movie. For those who lived it, it was a nightmare. Imagine 156,000 troops from the U.S., Britain and Canada cramped like sardines in landing craft, approaching a 50-mile stretch of heavily fortified beach lined with heavy artillery, mortars and machine guns. You get off the boats into waist-deep water and men are dying all around you. Then you have no cover and another several hundred yards.
Over 4,000 Allied troops died on June 6. I thought of myself as a brave soldier in Vietnam, but nothing I experienced compares to the courage and bravery of these troops on D-Day.
So, if you know any of these old soldiers, tell them how proud you are of them. They may not have heard it before. They deserve to hear it. And if there are cemetery markers with relatives or friends there, go there and tell them.
Thomas Abraham, Unity