After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a debate erupted in Western countries over how to approach the more moderate but influential voices of Islamic fundamentalism: Outlawing them, tolerating them or engaging them in dialogue.
Now, in the
wake of the July 22 attacks in Norway, a similar discussion has broken out in Europe over how to handle a potentially threatening group with a similar world view but an opposite perspective: the continent's many angry but generally non-violent voices of
This has led some politicians to suggest that the tone of the debate be moderated in order to prevent inflaming extremists into further such attacks or inspiring young people to take up the cause.
Jagland, a former Norwegian prime minister and current chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize committee, said in an interview that European right-wing politicians need to be careful about the words they use, lest they inflame moderates: We should be very
cautious now, we should not play with fire. Therefore I think the words we are using are very important because it can lead to much more.
He specifically suggested that politicians such as British Prime Minister David Cameron and German
Chancellor Angela Merkel avoid future attacks on multiculturalism, something both leaders have expressed this year, apparently in order to cement the support of their parties' right-wing members.
Jagland's remarks were quickly rejected by
free-speech advocates and conservatives in Britain, Norway and elsewhere.
But they do echo the stance taken by many leaders in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, in which fundamentalist preachers without terrorist connections were told to tone down
their messages and avoid certain inflammatory concepts. Some called for the banishment of fundamentalists while free-speech advocates fought a campaign to allow them to speak.
Norwegian retailer Coop Norway has temporarily taken 51 gaming and toy brands off its shelves in response to the murders committed by Anders Behring Breivik last month.
Breivik referred to Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and World Of
Warcraft in his manifesto.
Geir Inge Stokke, director of Coop Norway Retail told the Norwegian press.
Others are better suited than us, to point to the negative effects of games like these. At the
moment it's [appropriate] for us to take them down. I wouldn't be surprised if others do the same. We have to think very carefully about when to bring these goods back. The economy involved is of no importance.
removed include several other Call Of Duty titles, Homefront , Sniper Ghost Warrior , and Counter-Strike Source . Toy guns have also been taken off sale.
Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian mass murderer described the video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 as part of my training-simulation in his 1500-page manifesto published online just before the massacre.
has predictably led the Australian Christian Lobby to call for games to be banned if the violence is excessive or gratuitous.
The Australian federal government have said that Breivik committed the atrocities because there is something
clearly intrinsically wrong with him , not because he played violent video games.
NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge said Modern Warfare 2 , rated MA15+, is one of the games that should be reviewed to have a more restricted R18+ rating.
In his manifesto entitled 2083: A European Declaration of Independence, Breivik described his addiction to the online multiplayer game World of Warcraft and claimed it was a good cover story to explain what he was doing while plotting the
Breivik described the game Call of Duty, Modern Warfare as the best military simulator out there , said he usually preferred fantasy role-playing games to shooters but I see MW2 more as a part of my training-simulation
than anything else . I've still learned to love it though and especially the multiplayer part is amazing. You can more or less completely simulate actual operations, he wrote.
On World of Warcraft, Breivik said you will be
amazed on how much you can do undetected while blaming this game . If your planning requires you to travel, say that you are visiting one of your WoW friends, or better yet, a girl from your 'guild' (who lives in another country). No further
questions will be raised if you present these arguments.
Australia's Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O'Connor was asked on ABC's Insiders about the link between video games and the Oslo shooting. O'Connor said it would not change his
support for the R18+ rating for video games, which he argued would prevent adult video games from slipping through as MA15+ or lower:
At the moment the most popular adult-themed games that are played only lawfully
by adults around the world are played by 15 year olds here.
But look, because there is a madman who has done just such atrocities in Norway, I don't think that means that we are going to close down film or the
engagement with games, he said.
I think it really points to, of course, a person who - clearly there is something wrong with this person to sort of cause such devastation in Norway. But I'm not sure that the argument
goes that as a result of watching a game you turn into that type of person. I think there is something clearly intrinsically wrong with him.
The Australian Christian Lobby managing director Jim Wallace criticised O'Connor over
his remarks and said that if even a few deranged minds could be taken over the edge by an obsession with violent games then the game should be banned.
The studied indifference of this killer to the
suffering he was inflicting, his obvious dehumanising of his victims and the evil methodical nature of the killings have all the marks of games scenarios, said Wallace.
How can we allow the profits of the games
industry and selfishness of games libertarians to place our increasingly dysfunctional society at further risk? Even if this prohibition were to save only one tragedy like this each twenty years it would be worth it.