Banks County Opinions...

JULY 7, 2004


Column

By:Phillip Sartain
The Banks County News
July 7, 2004

The emotional state of the union
After 15 years of not so subtle manipulation and positioning, my wife has won one of her more critical and protracted gender battles. Well, sort of. Having managed to get through 46 years of life without a massage, my wife cornered and pinned me in Sante Fe, New Mexico, of all places.
The actual location is unimportant. From a historical perspective, however, my capitulation represents a monumental shift in the balance of power in my never-ending struggle against the Male Morphing Phenomenon.
As far as I can tell, it is the sworn duty and obligation of all women to recreate men in their own image. In response, most men are genetically programmed to resist at all costs. Alas, the imperceptible pounding in the form of emotional water torture leaves most men in a weakened, and thus vulnerable, state.
In my own case, I was caught totally off guard. Somewhere on the road from Gainesville to Sante Fe, my wife announced that I would be having a massage upon arrival. It was a bold thunder bolt that left me reeling.
Being on vacation, I could hardly fall back on the time-honored male escape hatch of having “too much to do at work.” Her cunning sense of all the angles, the players, and the tender points makes her a pro at these sorts of things. Short of steering the motor home into a bridge embankment and going up in a martyred ball of flames, I was trapped by my own lassitude.
“Sure,” I said, as I wondered where all my strength and man-ness had gone. I was whipped and beaten by the time she turned me over to Nancy at the Touchy-Feely Spa Of Physical And Emotional Harmony.
With a knowing look, Lydia instructed Nancy, “I give you a husband creature thing — return to me a sensitive, caring, giving, nurturing, and completely docile partner for a blissful journey through life.”
Nancy was more than willing. “Yes,” she nodded, happy to be a part of the great female conspiracy. Once inside the little room, she explained the process. “What is your emotional state at this moment?” she wanted to know.
“Well, I’m originally from Georgia, but we’ve driven for three days and I’m not sure exactly where I am right now.”
She glared at me for an instant and then instructed me to disrobe. That created a bit of a quandary for me. But before I could ask for further clarification, she shut the door and disappeared.
It was one of those pivotal moments in my life where I had to make a decision all on my own. In other words, my wife was not present to give me any massage wisdom on the disrobing process. Left to my own devices, I arrived at what I considered a completely legitimate compromise.
Upon her return with incense and green tea, Nancy took one look at my state of disrobe and burst into tears. Sobbing, she told me, “Your total lack of emotion and your overwhelming male immaturity are too strong for me. I can’t do this. Please don’t tell your wife that I failed the sisterhood.”
We talked about stock car racing for the rest of the hour and I promised not to give her away. Then I robed myself and joined Lydia in the lobby. She was grinning from ear to ear in anticipation
Greeting her, I immediately complemented her on her own balanced physical and emotional state, thus confirming for her the value of a massage in the touchy feely department. And I meant it, too.
You see, some women are emotionally strong enough to handle the sight of a man wearing his underwear on his head. And clearly, others, Nancy included, are not.
Phillip Sartain is an attorney in Gainesville.

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Column

By: Rochelle Beckstine
The Banks County News
July 7, 2004

Video games—a resident evil?
Video game opponents believe that violent, gruesome video games are destroying an entire generation. Video game makers state that their games fall under the First Amendment (free speech) and that their self-imposed rating system, which includes an “adults only” rating, should guide parents to choose games appropriate for their children. I think they both may by right.
In the last four years, advances in technology have made it possible for the gore to climb to sickening heights and it’s still climbing. Sometimes you’re the good guy battling bad guys, but more often (in the more popular games) you’re the bad guy battling the police and a few bad guys. In these games it is not enough to kill someone; they must die with as much blood and gore as possible, running around with a severed arm or having their head completely taken off in a river of blood. The killing becomes a game and a whole generation is being desensitized to violence. In some games, like Carmegeddon, the killing spawns laughter as you run over pedestrians racking up points as limbs fly. It’s stuff worthy of creating psychos, not the future leaders of America. But as legislatures try to get a handle on the out of control blood and gore train, the judicial system has repeatedly backed the video game industry ruling that it is the consumer’s duty to not buy those games and not the government’s place to mandate them.
Game makers point to violent movies and state that children can buy “Kill Bill” and “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” and they believe ultra-violent video games are no different. And that’s where I know they’re wrong. Unlike TV, movies or music, in video games the player takes on the role of killer. All violence is perpetuated by or acted upon him. In many games, the player views the screen through the eyes of the character, making the action and the player’s role in it more realistic and more personal. In fact, the action is so real that the armed forces use some mainstream video games to teach soldiers to kill. One soldier stated in Generation Kill by Evan Wright that an ambush felt just like playing “Grand Theft Auto”: “It felt like I was living it when I seen the flames coming out of the windows, the blown-up car in the street, guys crawling around shooting at us.”
What an endorsement. There has been more than one set of killers who’ve been big video game fans before they went on a shooting rampage, including the Columbine High School students and two Tennessee brothers who modeled Grand Theft Auto, killing one and wounding another.
These rampages have caused some legislators to call for the violence in some games to be declared obscene. Leland Yee, a California assemblywoman said, “You can carve out some exceptions to the First Amendment when it is determined that these things we are talking about—like pornography, like alcohol, like tobacco and so on—have harmful effects to children.” And studies have found increased aggressive tendencies and aggressive actions by video game players. They’ve also found the impact of video games to be significantly more severe than television, movies or music. Current studies are enough for some governments; New Zealand, Brazil and Germany as well as some others have outlawed some games and Britain required “Resident Evil” manufacturers to change the color of blood from red to green and “Carmegeddon” had to make the people you run over look more like zombies and less like normal pedestrians.
A $246 million case is pending against video game manufacturers by the victims of the Tennessee boys’ shooting spree. The game makers counter that it is a parent’s responsibility to monitor the games kids play and to understand that not all games are for kids. And perhaps that’s where the buck will stop. Too often I’ve seen parents, both working outside the home, indulging their children with material things and not really seeing what their child is doing with his free time. The kids have computers and TVs and VCRs in their rooms so Mom and Dad literally don’t know how gruesome and horrific these games are and what they are doing to the next generation. Perhaps legislators shouldn’t waste their time passing laws designed to stop kids from buying games without parental permission because parents are quick to indulge junior without really seeing junior. Instead legislators should spend their time educating parents about the harmful effects of repeatedly exposing kids to violence. I
don’t think any parent wants another Columbine.
Rochelle Beckstine is a columnist for MainStreet Newspapers.


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