Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Odd Synchronicity

For those who don't know much about video games (or, specifically, the controversies over game violence), a recent hyperviolent game called "Manhunt" was recently banned in New Zealand and hysterically attacked elsewhere for being unacceptably and horrifically violent, especially considering that unlike most other "horror" games, it is entirely realistic. One of the more controversial aspects of the game is the weapons one uses to kill- the fact that the player can use something as innocuous as a plastic bag to harm the targets is disturbing, but seems rather outlandish.

Then again, apparently this sort of thing is has its real world counterparts.

The international news agency Reuters has made a formal complaint to the Pentagon following the "wrongful" arrest and apparent "brutalisation" of three of its staff this month by US troops in Iraq.
The complaint followed an incident in the town of Falluja when American soldiers fired at two Iraqi cameramen and a driver from the agency while they were filming the scene of a helicopter crash.

Although Reuters has not commented publicly, it is understood that the journalists were "brutalised and intimidated" by US soldiers, who put bags over their heads, told them they would be sent to Guantanamo Bay, and whispered: "Let's have sex."
There is a difference between putting a bag over someone's head and beating them to death as opposed to threatening to send them to be tortured and threatening forcible rape... but I'd argue that the latter case is just a little more important. Unlike the polygonal and fictional interactions in Manhunt, this actually happened, and was the responsibility of those whom Time magazine called "newsmakers of the year". One's derided as "killographic", the other lauded. Funny how things work out.

It wasn't just bags over the head, by the by. The Guardian article goes over a laundry list of brutalization, threats, torture, and press intimidation. Pity that the intimidation is so effective- I doubt that we'll see anything about this on CNN any time soon. It's not like the army is owning up to it:

A spokeswoman for the US military's coalition press and information centre in Baghdad hung up when the Guardian asked her to comment... The top US military spokesman in Iraq, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, later admitted that they had received a formal complaint and that there was an on-going investigation into the incident.
"On-going investigation". Right. For all that they're attacked, at least the Israelis actually arrest the soldiers who do this kind of thing.

Perhaps Joseph Lieberman should put as much effort into ending this sort of thing as he has attacking games like Manhunt. Not only would it make him a more effective candidate and made that TNR endorsement mean something- it would have accomplished something real.

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