OK, maybe this is obvious -- it certainly should be -- but if you want me to take your views seriously, don't lie to me.
Garth George may be biased as all fuck; he may say many, many things that I believe are untrue, but they're always in the realm of subjective opinion -- I don't recall him ever telling an outright lie. Sandra Paterson, on the other hand, talks a load of shit.
Her latest column on the evils of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas describes the game like so:
The player takes on the role of a criminal and earns points by decapitating police, raping prostitutes, shooting or slitting the throats of innocent bystanders, stealing cars and beating people with baseball bats, in between visiting strip clubs and crack dens and living a glamorised gang lifestyle.
Now, I'll come clean: I'm not a big fan of this style of game, and I've only played the GTA series a little bit, so maybe I've missed some things. Obviously, as the game's title implies, stealing cars plays a big part in it. You can kill policemen, yes, innocent bystanders too, although there aren't any points in it, and in most if not all cases you're strongly encouraged not to (by the same mechanisms that strongly encourage you not to do these things in the real world, i.e. shitloads of cops and SWAT teams with the chasing and the shooting at you). And, as far as I'm aware there is no rape in Grand Theft Auto. None. You don't get to do it, you don't "earn points" for it.
So maybe that was an oversight. No, hang on, two paragraphs later and it's "a game where they pretend to beat people to a pulp and take part in pack rapes" -- pack rapes now. And then later: "you get to rape women and steal police cars". Rape is the one thing mentioned every time she describes the game's contents, and it's the one thing its contents do not include. Liar or ignorant -- which is it?
Not the hugest of points, I'll concede, but the thing is, when she gets to the meat of her rant -- a fairly predictable anti-anti-smacking routine -- and says:
A report by Save the Children in 2000 claimed there had been no child abuse fatalities in Sweden since the ban in 1979. But according to a Goteborg newspaper, there were about seven such deaths annually throughout the 90s, and a Unicef study two years ago showed that death rates due to explicit maltreatment are virtually identical in countries with and without smacking bans.
I'm supposed to just take her word for it? If the preceding paragraphs demonstrate the extent of her fact-checking abilities, I don't think so.
She finishes by saying that "we should be taking a good hard look at the games our kids are playing." I agree completely, although it seems we have different definitions of what constitutes a "good hard look" -- when I take a good hard look at something, I actually learn about it.