Ted Hamilton

To make emotionally insensitive or unresponsive, as by long exposure or repeated shocks.

That is the definition of desensitized as the American Heritage Dictionary defines it. Until I passed the anti-abortion display in Risman Plaza for the second time this week I really never thought of the word. After I passed the disturbing pictures of death and blood without any reaction or second thought (except maybe a brief thought of “please do not let any pro-abortion or anti-abortion people try to hand me literature”) I had to stop and think.

Have I become desensitized to images of violence? Had the years spent playing violent video games, watching horror movies and listening to violent music eroded the disgust I should have felt?

I guess I should not be completely surprised at a lack of emotion. I used to play the Resident Evil video games all the time, thinking nothing of shooting zombies in the face or watching them eat a screaming corpse. One of my all-time favorite movies, 2001 Maniacs, has a scene where a character chugs a bunch of acid while he is in bed and his innards fall onto the floor under him. The opening line from “Valhalla Awaits Me,” a song from my favorite Viking death metal band Amon Amarth, goes “Blood gushes from the wound/The cut is wide and deep/And before I turn around/He falls to his knees.”

There are plenty of people, especially among video gamers, who claim the massive amounts of violence they partake in while playing has no effect on them whatsoever. Besides being completely irrational, they also must not have done much research. As far back as 2006, researchers from Iowa State found evidence violent video games led to a desensitization of people who played them. To think bathing yourself in a world, even a fake one, filled with violence, chaos and death will leave you completely unscathed is ignorance at best, stupidity at worst.

Does desensitizing society create mass murderers and people who are completely uncaring when it comes to the death of others? Of course not; that argument is even more ignorant than thinking the violence we constantly expose ourselves to does not affect us. Violence has been a part of humanity’s entertainment industry for as long as civilization has been around. Death sentences used to be carried out in front of throngs of the cheering, jeering masses. The ending credits usually involved a kicking body going limp or the thud of a head falling into a basket.

When I was walking through the plaza, I noticed people eating burgers and fries, talking to friends while watching the protesters and counter-protesters. They could eat their food while being just yards away from pictures of dead bodies and aborted fetuses. I, however, am no longer hungry. The funny thing is that it is not the display that is disgusting – it is the noticing of my lack in caring about the display.

Ted Hamilton is a senior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. You can contact him at [email protected].