James v. Meow Media and the Role of Responsibility In James v. Meow Media Inc. , Michael Carneal, an avid video-gamer, is responsible for the murder of his high school peers. Research of Carneal’s daily habits showed that the content of his video games was a potential cause of his disastrous behavior. When dealing with a minor, factors of life while approaching the level of maturity must be taken into consideration. This case shows the ease in which fingers are pointed in efforts to protect a child in need of help. Negligence was the common theme for why the affected families felt Meow Media owed a duty of care.
In the case of a 14 year-old minor, the presence and the proactive nature of a parent is vital. Because Carneal’s parents failed to take the action needed to prevent such behavior, is it truly fair to say that the negligence falls on the company? This reaction will discuss the subjectivity of such cases in which responsibility is put into the hands of the undeserving. A certain level of responsibility is expected from parents during a child’s stage of adolescence. As a child matures, various characteristics evolve that affect his or her view on life.
These characteristics may be attributed to the child’s genetic traits, daily environment, or mental/emotional state. It is a parent’s duty to identify unstable features early on in the child’s life in order to protect others from any harm that could be caused. In this case, Carneal’s mental and emotional instability traced back to his kindergarten years. His feeling of alienation began as early as those years. As he recalls wanting to bring a gun to school for show-and-tell, Carneal stated, “Of course, I didn't have access to a gun, so it was not realistic ("School shooter Michael," 2010). Such depraved thoughts and hermit behavior can be detected in its premature stages and treated to minimize the risk of violence. Following the shooting, Carneal underwent a series of mental examinations. Psychiatrists and psychologists discovered that he indeed had a schizotypal personality disorder and was in a severe state of depression. Additionally, it was revealed that a history of mental illness was common on his father’s side of the family (Moore, Petrie , Braga & McLaughlin, 2003). The symptoms of Carneal’s illnesses were apparent in his daily interactions.
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By being aware of familial disorders and observing his socially dysfunctional behavior, proper precautions could have been taken sooner. Parents observe the behaviors of their children each day and, therefore, owe a duty of care. Meow Media Inc. made and sold their video games with no intention of them falling into the hands of a troubled child. The likelihood of a mentally/emotionally stable individual taking action to endanger innocent lives in order to mimic a game is low. Learning and understanding right from wrong is instilled during an individual’s early youth.
Depending on varying circumstances, the environment that a child is placed in may have an adverse effect on the child’s development. Genetic defects are major circumstances that, if not handled with care and caution, could alter a child’s reaction to his or her environment. In 1978, A Dutch woman took action to stop the vicious cycle that haunted her family. Her family consisted of multiple aggressive men that carried a long history of rape dating back to 1870. When she saw that her son acquired some of these familial traits, she immediately took action (Richardson, 1993).
Geneticists ran a series of tests and found that the personality disorder that cursed these men was a serious and rare genetic debility. Dr. Han Brunner and his colleagues at the Nijmegen hospital said that “some of the men in the woman’s family suffer from a genetic defect on the X chromosome- -a defect that cripples an enzyme that may help regulate aggressive behavior (1993). ” By learning that this disease had been passed down from mother to son, the woman was able to provide her son with the proper support needed to help combat this vicious cycle.
Thousands of video games, ranging from Rated M (mature) to Rated E (everyone), can be found on display for anyone to see at local video stores. Rated M games, usually filled with violence and vulgarity, are generally advertised with guns and women wearing the bare minimum of clothing. Stores have a social responsibility in protecting young children from these games and have taken proper action. Wal-Mart has been an advocate in censoring Rated M games by placing black sleeves over these covers. “It is the responsibility of Wal-Mart to protect our children from potentially damaging content, such as the covers of some video games,” said company spokesperson (Jonathon, 2008). It is also a requirement for minors to have a 17 year-old and older I. D. or a guardian present to purchase these games. When parents purchase these video games for their underage children and fail to supervise or acknowledge behavioral and growth patterns, they increase the likelihood of future violence. This scenario parallels with that of the Bad Frog Brewery Case. In that case, Bad Frog Brewery was forced to sell their beer in restricted areas of supermarkets and bars due to their vulgar label—a label displaying a frog sticking up his middle finger.
Having these labels sold in restricted areas lowers the prospect of children being exposed. This now places the onus of responsibility on the parents. If a negligent parent decides to take a minor child near a bar, he or she runs the risk of that child seeing the beer label and mimicking the vulgar gesture. If that exposed child goes to school the next day and shows this gesture to the other students, they will be affected in some way. Families of the affected children will be infuriated when they find that another student stuck up his/her middle finger in front of their child.
Though the given situation may seem highly exaggerated, it is given to show the effects of negligent behavior. Like the parents of Carneal, this negligent parent breached a duty of care. Alternatively, the line of responsibility to protect minors from environmental influence is blurred when discussing arcade rooms. Arcades are built specifically for kids and are viewed as safe havens of innocent fun. Yet, while taking a deep look into the content of the games, it is apparent that games containing violence are amongst the most popular played in these facilities.
The games usually entail being rewarded for aiming a gun and killing as many people as possible or fighting someone until they bleed to death. There is absolutely no policing of these arcade games, which would more than likely be considered M rated material in video stores. Parents are blind-sided by the harm they are putting their minor children in. Here, it is difficult to rest the blame on the parents as an act of negligence. Every party has a degree of responsibility to consider when handling situations. Rather than placing the immediate blame on what would seem like he obvious, it is best to first analyze and discover the root cause of the issue. In the case of Michael Carneal, although it was initially presented that Meow Media was to blame for Carneal’s wrongful acts, it was later discovered that the issue stemmed much deeper than Carneal’s love for video games. In the event that proper protocol was initially taken by the responsible party, Carneal could have been given the proper treatment needed to prevent unnecessary deaths. References Jonathon. (2008, February 11). Wal-Mart covering up "M" rated games [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://www. gamefront. om/wal-mart-covering-up-m-rated-games/ Moore, M. , Petrie , C. , Braga, A. , & McLaughlin, B. (2003). Deadly Lessons: Understanding Lethal School Violence. (p. 150). Washington, D. C. : The National Academies Press. Retrieved from http://www. nap. edu/openbook. php? record_id=10370=150 Richardson, S. (1993, October 01). A Violence in the Blood. Discover Magazine, (October 1993), Retrieved from http://discovermagazine. com/1993/oct/aviolenceinthebl293 School Shooter Michael Carneal Recalls Delusions. (2010, October 06). WDRB. Retrieved from http://www. wdrb. com/Global/story. asp? S=13279449
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