In "Video games cause violence? Unproven, Jan. 10," Christopher Ferguson exonerates video games as a cause of youth violence, but I remain skeptical. I'm convinced, though, that pervasive media violence is linked to rare and spectacular incidents like mass killings, whether committed by game-inspired youths or others.
I'm reminded of an incident in India years ago, where I followed current events in the many English newspapers. While we were in Gujarat state, an Australian missionary and his two young sons were murdered when their car was set afire by religious zealots with a gripe.
A thoughtful Indian got his opinion letter published, cautioning that all the hateful rhetoric about doing harm to -- even killing -- those with conflicting beliefs would predictably bring the rare nut out of the bushes to do just that.
It put labeling abortion providers as murderers in a new light and offered some understanding of the crazy snipers and bombers out to get them. So it is with media violence: too much of that, and people who go over the edge will fall in that direction with an implanted sense of justification.
We are being entertained at great cost to society.
RON CARLSON, LAKE ST. CROIX BEACH
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The full headline and summary type for Ferguson's article read: "Video games cause violence? Unproven. If we suspect a connection, it's more likely the result of confirmation bias."
My response: Advertising increases sales? Proven. Is this connection the likely result of confirmation bias?
DALE R. SCHWIE, RICHFIELD
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I am a high school student and completely agree with Ferguson that violent video games do not cause violence. However, exposing children and young teens to violence before they can understand its seriousness must be addressed.
Video games are rated by the ESRB -- the Entertainment Software Rating Board. Television shows use parental guidelines controlled by the FCC to rate programs. Movies also have their own rating system, dictated by the Motion Picture Association of America. No wonder parents get confused about rating guidelines.
There needs to be a universal rating system for all video games, television shows and movies that parents can easily understand and rely on.
MOLLY BRENNER, PLYMOUTH
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So Mikki Morrissette, who founded the ChoiceMoms.org website and held herself out as an expert on single women having children on their own, at one point wanted taxpayers to be on the hook for her child's health care ("Just the sperm donor, or the legal dad?" Jan. 6). Perhaps she should have considered whether to have a child or start her business.
SUZANNE B. LIBSON, MINNEAPOLIS
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Mary Abbe's art reviews are always worth reading, but her "Winter Light" piece was a work of excellence ("Minnesota painters take on the seasons in two shows at Groveland Gallery," Jan. 4). The accompanying photo of Fred Anderson's "House on Second Avenue" showed us the house and the snowy yard, but didn't capture the interplay of snow and afternoon light that Abbe found in the painting. Her description was so comprehensive that I decided to trust her eye rather than the camera's and see the painting for myself at the Groveland Gallery. In other words, Abbe followed T.S. Eliot's advice to critics: introduce the reader to the work and leave him alone with it. She's got the knack.
DAN SULLIVAN, MINNEAPOLIS
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The Jan. 6 editorial cartoon on the debt ceiling by Steve Sack was an insult to Star Tribune readers. The obvious implication was that the debt-ceiling crisis has been brought about solely by Republican demands. A letter to the editor on the same page by James Haugen was more informed and much less biased. Haugen blamed voters for electing people interested in their own political future rather than doing what's best for the country. Instead of trying to blame the political party we disagree with, let's examine our own conscience.
ANDY WESTERHAUS, BURNSVILLE
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John Patrick Egelhof's commentary on gun violence should be required reading for lawmakers in St. Paul as well as in Congress ("I've felt the pain. I get the arguments," Dec. 30). The article was informative, experienced-based and balanced. His suggestions, both short-term and long-term, provide a smart, relatively easy-to-follow blueprint for workable solutions. In fact, the cynic in me feels that it makes so much sense that it's not likely to be heard by the stubborn ears of the "agenda-driven extremists" on both sides of the gun issue.
MARK LASSWELL, EAGAN
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I'm a lifelong conservative Republican with a warning for my party. Our marriage with the gun lobby and the NRA is a fatal attraction. The public knows that without guns, a room full of students cannot be murdered. The public never hears of a drive-by stabbing, but as many as 25 Americans a day are fatally gunned down. The public is understanding that the gun lobby and the NRA are merchants of death. And when the mood finally shifts, as it will, people will vote for liberals even if they disagree with their doctrine because they don't want their kids fatally shot at school or a movie theater. This will leave the GOP with only the gun nuts.
Let us get ahead of this issue before the worm turns. Most guns used in massacres have only one purpose -- to kill people. If we have the political will, guns can be eliminated without violation of the Second Amendment. We are on the wrong side of this issue. The Republican Party must be the party of life and not the party of death.
THOR ANDERSON, MINNETONKA
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