Doctor Carole Lieberman, the psychologist who Fox News quoted directly linking a rise in rape with video games, has officially gone on record about that quote with Kotaku. Those hoping for some sort of retraction will be un-shockingly disappointed.
In her defence, despite making the ludicrous claim, without a hint of evidence, her quote was slightly edited. Well, not so much edited as shortened really, as the full quote still had the same message:
“Video games have increasingly, and more brazenly, connected sex and violence in images, actions and words. This has the psychological impact of doubling the excitement, stimulation and incitement to copycat acts. The increase in rapes can be attributed, in large part, to the playing out of such scenes in video games.”
But she also (sort of) admits twice when challenged by Kotaku that she has no physical evidence or any that she could reference to back up these claims except another claim that thousands of studies support.
“The thing is that all these thousands of studies relate violent media, including video games, to an increase in violence in general.”
Kotaku then points out that Dr Carole feels however that it’s a logical conclusion that violent or sexualised gaming would have lead to the rise, she went on to say:
“That fits under the idea of people becoming more violent or aggressive, the more violent media they consume.”
Showing the sort of prowess that would make any Phoenix Wright player or the man himself proud, Kotaku felt the opportunity for an “Objection!” moment and pressed further on her lack of evidence. It’s worth noting that Kotaku had simply called Dr. Carole Lieberman rather than it being a sit down chat so at the time her notes and whatnot weren’t exactly prepared. However, in my opinion if you’re willing to commit to “thousands” of studies backing up your theory then surely you should be able to name a few or direct people to a resource that they could be found in, but I digress.
“I would have to dig into the things I have in hard copy or search the Internet,” she said, “But rape [pause] there have been sexual crimes and the video games have become more sexual …They’ve become more sexual, And, according to Freud, our impulses… we’re born with natural drives toward aggression and sex. The aggression drive is normally socialized, when we grow up, to become ambition. The sexual drive, as we grow up, is connected to love, if we grow up in a healthy way.”
She said in an almost impressive off the cuff answer considering she is essentially confessing to not having anything substantial to offer up as evidence.
“When people combine sexual and violent images, particularly in video games where you’re not just passively watching, you’re pushing buttons, you’re getting physically involved in this act, it has a particularly stimulating impact. It stimulates the sex center of the psyche and the violence center of the psyche and make the whole effect more stimulating. And so it’s natural that the more the violent impulses are stimulated…[she paused] it’s not that everyone goes out and kills but people become more aggressive with getting into parking spots or everyday things… so when there are also sexual things, like words in this new game they are using, or images, it stimulates the two centers in the psyche and makes the overall impact linking sex and violence — and desensitizing people to violent sex — more impactful, more inciteful.”
Unsurprisingly her first quote on Fox News managed to incite more than a few infuriated fellows to send her emails, one such person chosen at random was JohnnyMassiveHomoCunt who managed to unleash the following onto her inbox:
“I played Bulletstorm demo, and like I felt I need to rape someone. So I went into this kind of deep trance, which caused me to rape 10, 15 years-old girl. [sic] What do I do now? The game made me do it. Please help me. By the way, you look like a fucking deadbeat pornstar. Yours truly, JohnnyMassiveHomoCunt OMG LOL my shift broke. P.S. Playing Mass Effect gave me a sudden need to shoot you in the head. Would you please come here so I can fulfill my needs?”
While I can understand and expected some annoyed, sarcastic mails being sent to Dr. Carole like this I have to say it’s still a bit disappointing to see it held up as an example of what she has been sent. However I harbour no ill will towards the Amazon.com backlash against her book, which is a more creative rebuttal against her claims against the medium.
“That I can take, because if it does save one child or one woman, if more people are alerted to this, even if some people don’t agree, I can accept. But what I am sad, or disappointed in — because I never even thought about this is because people have gone to Amazon, I have a new book out called Bad Girls: Why Men Love Them & How Good Girls Can Learn Their Secrets, and wrote terrible reviews.” Carole Lieberman said commenting on the backlash.
It’s hard though to find sympathy for her on this front about the reviews by folks who haven’t read her book but are venting their feelings on a subject (her writing and advice) they have little or no experience with. Especially when Dr. Carole admits she has never played or experienced a video game first hand in her life yet still comments on how the experience feels to the player.
It’s hard to see this subject dying anytime soon, Dr. Carole Lieberman does seem to enjoy the limelight so I’m sure we can expect further interviews and comments from her on the topic. But maybe, just maybe, we may finally get some evidence or research put in front of us for scrutiny on this claim. Full credit to Kotaku though for challenging her on the subject and at least bringing some of the doctor’s reasoning out into the open. The whole thing itself is one that both enrages and interests me. While I have tried for the most part to not get too personal on my impressions or opinions of Dr. Carole and her claims, I will be looking to possibly have an opinion piece written on the subject soon voicing my thoughts and any further developments. But for now I would love to know what you think, so please let us know below.