Fly Me to the Loon

I’m not usually one to stoop to the level of arguing with lazy tabloid journalism. I’ve been playing video games since the mid ’80s and I’ve long since settled into an attitude of weary quasi-indifference upon seeing uninformed articles vomited out by narrow-minded hacks who froth at the mouth with misdirected righteous indignation. Part of me smugly refuses to be annoyed by these ham-fisted articles because they’re so poorly conceived that they scarcely qualify as journalism or, in some cases, even writing. This latest, however, made me facepalm so hard that the echoes of skin on bearded skin could be heard reverberating around the town for hours afterwards.

Microsoft Flight Simulator, the Daily Mail screams with delirious semi-coherent fury, is a training programme for terrorists.

Oh yes. Though the multitudinous previous claims of video games inciting acts of violence were certainly risible (for reasons well worn enough to not need reiteration here) they at least held to some sort of logic. GTA promotes crime, they said. First-person shooters promote shooting sprees, they said. Nonsense but at least a logical sequence. The choices of game made some sort of sense. Here, though, the Mail is linking flight simulator to a bomber who attacked trains. Just stop for a moment, Daily Mail, and ask yourself whether “this terrorist trained for a pedestrian attack on a train by flying a pretend plane” isn’t a bit of a stretch, even for you?

That’s akin to claiming that someone who carried out a horrific shooting in a school trained for the occasion by playing Theme Hospital. There is no longer even a semblance of logical thought to the Mail’s deranged flailing at video games, grabbing whatever comes to hand. A terrorist once bought brussels sprouts? Sprouts cause terrorism! Standing in a Tesco checkout line is training for manufacturing explosive devices!

That’s without even touching on the pathetic lack of journalistic standards in the way this ‘information’ is imparted. See how I indicated my dismissiveness of the information by putting the word in inverted commas? The Mail did exactly the same, referring to Microsoft Flight Simulator as a ‘game’, complete with sarcastic punctuation, as though raising a knowing eyebrow to an audience who are all well aware that this ‘game’ is transparently a malevolent plot by Microsoft to intentionally train terrorists. That seems to be the implication here. The Daily Mail wants us to believe that Microsoft are deliberately causing terrorism. Don’t even get me started on the fact that the Mail grudgingly admits in passing that the investigation never named a specific flight simulator in any case. ‘Many fingers pointed in the direction of Microsoft’, it says, while conveniently neglecting to cite any specific fingers. I suspect that all the fingers in question were Daily Mail fingers.

So there it is. Microsoft Flight Simulator = terrorism, right? Right?

No. It feels like overkill even typing the word ‘no’ to refute this mind-meltingly, bladder-shrivellingly piteous wail of desperate spite from a tabloid that has long since given up caring whether it can even take itself seriously. The Daily Mail is senile. It no longer knows or cares what it’s saying about anything as long as someone politely listens to it and gives it some soup. Just leave it alone to wither and die out as its own bizarre lie-peddling antics make it obsolete.

Oh, and if you play flight simulators and eat sprouts, don’t blow anything up. Ok?