12 Jan

Our Tax Dollars At Work

Our Tax Dollars At Work

Kids Learn That Killing Is Fun at the Army’s Lethal New Theme Park

By Penny Coleman, AlterNet
December 19, 2008

Full Article:

The Army Experience Center, located in the Franklin Mills Mall just north of Philadelphia, bills itself as a “state-of-the-art educational facility that uses interactive simulations and online learning programs to educate visitors about the many careers, training and educational opportunities available in the Army.”

Nonsense. The only thing they’re teaching here is how to blow shit up. If it’s state-of-the-art anything, it’s state-of-the-art adolescent boys’ wet dreams.

“Too slow! Do it again!” yells the voice in my earphones as a new sequence of armed figures in camouflage pop up in front of me. I — the player — am attached to the foreshortened barrel of an M-16 — and a little embarrassed by that. It’s not my thing, really. And I wasn’t expecting the game to involve having to tolerate some dickhead’s personal opinion about my marksmanship.

“Potential recruits are afforded a unique opportunity to learn what it means to be the best-led, best-trained and best-equipped Army in the world by allowing them to virtually experience multiple aspects of the Army,” says Pete Geren, Secretary of the Army.

Sir, give me a break, sir! You mean the “Career Navigators,” those fancy touch-screen installations where you can see all the different jobs the Army can train you for?   No one went near them all day. Most of these kids can’t reach them, anyway. It’s the shiny toys and virtual adrenaline rush that brings them in.

“We have a ‘Teen’ rating that allows 13-year-olds to play, and in order to maintain that rating we have to adhere to certain standards,” Chris Chambers, a retired Army major who is now the project’s deputy director, told the New York Times. “We don’t use blood and gore and violence to entertain.”

So, in the absence of blood and gore, there is no violence. And kids get that? They get the distinction between fantasy and reality? I found the blurring completely disorienting, and I have consumed decades of both real and virtual violence…………………………

Lt. Col. Dave Grossman has written extensively on the psychology of killing, and he argues that it’s not that people can’t tell the difference between fantasy and reality, but that these games use virtual experience to systematically desensitize and condition.

Grossman cites hundreds of studies that reveal a direct correlation between exposure to media violence — especially interactive video games — and increased childhood aggression. A Stanford University study is particularly compelling: Over a 20-week period, third- and fourth-graders who limited or eliminated TV and video games demonstrated a 50 percent decrease in verbal aggression and a 40 percent decrease in physical aggression.

Grossman warns that Americans ”are reaching that stage of desensitization at which the inflicting of pain and suffering has become a source of entertainment; vicarious pleasure rather than revulsion. We are learning to kill, and we are learning to like it.”………………………………

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