Thursday, September 8, 2011

Why The Tea Party Must Die Video Game is a Problem

StarvingEyes: Viral Advergaming have created an new online game where you have the opportunity to kill “Generic pissed off old white guy zombie,” “Pissed off stupid white trash redneck birther zombie,” “Factory made blonde Fox News Barbie who has never had a problem in her life zombie." If that were not enough the choice targets are: Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, and a blood-spattered, bra-clad Michele Bachmann. When you finally do die the following is what appears on the screen

“You got Teabagged! P.S. You didn’t have health insurance, so you died. P.P.S. There’s no such thing as God, so you died for eternity.”

Each and every single person targeted in this video game is vile.  At some point, they have all done more than their share to actively oppress already marginalized and vulnerable group.  That being said, I have major issues with this game. 

How quickly we forget what happened when Sarah Palin decided to put Gabrielle Giffords in the "cross hairs".  After the shooting she tried to separate herself from the tragedy by claiming that the media was politicizing the tragedy but there is no doubt in my mind that her violent rhetoric played a role in what happened in Tucson.

There is also the murder of 67 year old Dr. Tiller in 2009. Dr Tiller was a late term abortion provider and he was shot in church.  He left behind a wife, four children and 10 grandchildren.  It is sad enough to lose a loved one, but when the death is violent, it becomes absolutely horrifying.   Prior to Dr. Tiller's murder, Bill O'Reilly, of Fox news went on a campaign against him on the airwaves.  Though he didn't actually call for his death, he made some very suggestive commentary.

This is where it gets most troubling. O'Reilly's language describing Tiller, and accusing the state and its elites of complicity in his actions, could become extremely vivid. On June 12, 2007, he said, "Yes, I think we all know what this is. And if the state of Kansas doesn't stop this man, then anybody who prevents that from happening has blood on their hands as the governor does right now, Governor Sebelius."

Three days later, he added, "No question Dr. Tiller has blood on his hands. But now so does Governor Sebelius. She is not fit to serve. Nor is any Kansas politician who supports Tiller's business of destruction. I wouldn't want to be these people if there is a Judgment Day. I just -- you know ... Kansas is a great state, but this is a disgrace upon everyone who lives in Kansas. Is it not?" (source)
O'Reilly even went as far as to say that Dr. Tiller "destroys fetuses for just about any reason right up until the birth date for $5,000." He's guilty of "Nazi stuff," said O'Reilly on June 8, 2005; a moral equivalent to NAMBLA and al-Qaida, he suggested on March 15, 2006. "This is the kind of stuff happened in Mao's China, Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Soviet Union," said O'Reilly on Nov. 9, 2006. 

His language was specifically designed to make Dr. Tiller a target and it is my belief that his hate rhetoric played a large part in Dr. Tiller's murder.  Language means something and though he didn't put the gun directly into the murder's hand, he certainly made it seem as though Tiller was a vile man that needed to be erased from existence.  Because O'Reilly is in a position of authority, there is a weight attached to his words that simply does not apply to an ordinary citizen, thereby further legitimizing violence.

When I played this game, it truly sickened me.  Using the same tactic that these tea party members have used to attack progressives, is only going to widen the cycle of violence.   It encourages people to stop thinking and embrace their baser instincts.  There is a difference between holding the Sarah Palin's of the world accountable for their actions, and implying in any way that they are legitimate targets for violence.  Every life is precious, even when the person in question uses said life for a negative purpose.

If any of the targeted tea baggers in this game were to die a violent death, it would make victims of the people that love them.  Do the people that they would leave behind, deserve to have to live with this kind of loss?

We need to fight their hate and oppression, but using the same tools that they do to forestall equality makes us no better than them.  There must be a distinct difference between the tea party and those who advocate for justice. Comprising morals when it is convenient to do so, or because we have decided that the person being attacked deserves it, creates a slippery slope. We do not have the right to play judge and jury and summarily call for the death of any person.

Morals only really count when we apply them in defense of those we detest. If it was wrong for Sarah Palin to put Giffords in the cross hairs, and for O'Reilly to attack Dr. Tiller, then it is wrong for us to pretend to murder them in a video game.  To win against our oppressors in this way, would be a pyrrhic victory and the struggle for equality is far too important to risk in such a manner.