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A cheap life

Lead Summary
By Jim Thompson
HCP columnist

Over the last 108 years, humankind has developed the attitude that life is very cheap. I pick 108 years, for that takes us back to the summer of 1914, when, right about now in that year, the Great War, later called World War I, was just about to start.

We are in between the period when the archduke was assassinated (June 18, 1914) and the Austria-Hungary Declaration of War on July 18, 1914.

The Great War resulted in 20 million deaths and 21 million wounded. Of the deaths, approximately 9.7 million were military and the balance were civilians. There was nearly an entire generation of young British women who were left unmarried for life.

The Russian Revolution started in 1917. It was facilitated by Germany to take Russia out of the Great War (done by illegally giving Lenin free passage from Switzerland to Sweden).

From 1917-91, it has been estimated by several experts that 15-20 million Russians lost their lives, with most of these deaths occurring before 1950.

World War II, starting with Germany’s invasion of Poland in September of 1939, resulted in 70 to 85 million deaths. The country suffering the most was Russia, with 20 million deaths (counted separately from the deaths caused by the Russian government already mentioned).

China suffered the second-greatest number of deaths.

Hitler’s regime in Germany caused over 6 million deaths internally to Germany and more to the countries it conquered in World War II through its concentration camp system.

The Vietnam War caused over 2 million deaths.

The Khmer Rouge killed somewhere between 1.5 and 2 million Cambodians (25 percent of the population) in the late 1970s.

According to the World Health Organization, today, the annual rate of abortion worldwide is 40-50 million, or about 95 per minute. In 2019, the number of U.S. abortions was somewhere between 625,000 (CDC) or 930,000 (Guttmacher Institute).

Thus, in 2019 the U.S. abortions were 1.5 to 1.8 percent of the worldwide total, while the U.S. total population represents about 4.2 percent of the world population.

Experts estimate that by this year, the video game industry will have grown to $230 billion and that more than half the games on the market contain violence. While there is some disagreement among researchers, at least two, Coyne and Stockdale, state “Experimental and longitudinal studies have repeatedly shown an association between playing violent video games and increased aggressive and decreased prosocial behaviors.

Additionally, some studies have found a link between playing violent video games and depression and anxiety. Longitudinal research, primarily focused on adolescents, has repeatedly shown a correlation between playing violent video games and increased aggressive behavior over time; however, longitudinal studies examining interpersonal and dating violence did not find any association between playing violent video games and increased violence.

To be fair, Coyne and Stockdale present, “on the other hand…” statements as well.
“Alex Berenson, author of ‘Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness and Violence,’ pointed out that the New York Times had curiously removed from an article about the Uvalde school shooter a former co-worker’s recollection that he complained about his grandmother not letting him smoke weed. The Times didn’t append a correction to the story as it might be expected to do when fixing a factual inaccuracy.

“Assuming the elided detail was accurate, it would fit a pattern. Mass shooters at Rep. Gabby Giffords’s constituent meeting in Tucson, Ariz. (2011), a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. (2012), the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla. (2016), the First Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas (2017), and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. (2018), were reported to be marijuana users. It could be a coincidence, but increasing evidence suggests a connection (Wall Street Journal, June 6, 2022).”

The modern world is a world of death. We have juiced it up with violent video games and topped it off with marijuana. You still want to blame mass shootings on guns?

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press. He may be reached at

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