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editorial

Ms. Pac-Man, not machine guns, at rest stops

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Sometimes, good taste doesn’t require much debate. So it was when Andrew and Tracey Hyams of Newton walked into the Charlton rest stop on the Massachusetts Turnpike on Christmas Eve — 10 days after the school massacre in Newtown, Conn. — and were disturbed to hear sounds of machine gun fire rat-a-tatting from the speakers of a video game. A complaint, e-mailed to the state Department of Transportation, led to swift action from state bureaucrats: Nine realistically violent video games were pulled out of four service plazas.

This move is only symbolic. Removing video games from rest stops is not going to end this nation’s scourge of violence, it’s not going to solve any issues of gun control or mental health, and it will probably irk some upstanding kids who want a particular sort of escape from monotonous road trips. Still, it’s nice to see officials showing good judgment. The value of playing violent video games at home (or on handheld devices, with headphones) is worthy of a measured and reasonable public discussion. But there’s no reason everyone who passes through a rest stop bathroom needs to be treated to the sound of shooting guns. In public places, Ms. Pac-Man will probably do.

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