The Corner

The Red Cross and Six Hundred Million Hague Convention Violations

There are days when one really wonders about the likelihood of Western civilization surviving the next few years. Today is one of those days. From the Australian website, comes the following story:

The Red Cross is investigating whether 600 million gamers are violating the Hague and Geneva conventions when they kill and blow stuff up for fun.

Delegates at the 31st International Conference of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Red Crescent raised the concerns over the potential “International Humanitarian Law” violations – which can constitute war crimes – during a workshop in Geneva.

The Red Cross said if it finds the conventions have been violated, they may ask game  developers to conform to international laws or encourage governments to create laws that regulate the gaming industry, Kotaku reported.

But international law professor at the University of New South Wales Anthony Billingsley told the Red Cross risked trivialising the conventions of warfare.

Mr Billingsley also said there is no way the conventions could apply to individuals because they were state-based.

“There are concerns about the blurring of fantasy and reality,” he said.

Just to repeat that: “There are concerns about the blurring of fantasy and reality,” said international law professor Anthony Billingsley, while doing exactly that. 

For the sake of argument, let’s hold our collective nose and indulge the Red Cross’s notion, leaving aside the facts that (a) the Hague Convention applies to states not individuals, (b) that the First Amendment trumps everything, and (c) we’re talking about video games here. What comes next? Do we arrest the game designers behind classic Lemmings for animal cruelty? Presumably there are fairly consistent laws preventing individuals from sacrificing small rodents, pushing them off of cliffs, and leading them into pyramids to the stirring sounds of Mozart’s “Rondo alla Turca.” Do we arrest authors who write crime thrillers and charge them with murder? How about prosecuting John Lennon for starting a fire in Beatles classic “Norwegian Wood”?

Luckily, the solution is clear. According to the article:

The International Committee of the Red Cross is empowered by the Geneva Conventions to protect victims of international and domestic armed conflicts.

All the Red Cross needs to do, then, is hire a game designer and have the organization’s role coded into the games. As stand-up comedian Demetri Martin has already suggested:

I like video games, but they are very violent. I want to create a video game in which you have to help all the characters who have died in the other games. “Hey, man, what are you playing?” “Super Busy Hospital. Could you leave me alone? I’m performing surgery! This guy got shot in the head, like, 27 times!”


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