Going Postal

A disgruntled man with a shotgun goes on a Sunday morning killing spree, shooting policemen, school children, and people coming out of church. The killer’s victims scream and beg for their lives. When he’s finished, the killer shoves the gun into his own mouth and fires. No, this is not a horrible news story. It’s a new, interactive computer game. An example of an alarming trend to provide ever more interactive violence and sex on computer screens. The game I’ve just described is called Postal, as in "going postal," a slang reference to disgruntled postal workers who have killed their coworkers, innocent bystanders, and themselves. Postal invites players to "blast, maim and firebomb your way through 17 unsuspecting locales." As bleeding children writhe in pain, the player shoots the police and ambulance personnel trying to save them. The game was created by a company called RSP—ironically, the same company that sells computer games featuring Miss Piggy and the other Sesame Street characters. The game has triggered nationwide outrage—especially among postal workers—and RSP clients have canceled contracts in protest. But many other people seem to love the game. Just one week after Postal’s release last month, it was the fifteenth biggest-selling CD-ROM on the market. It’s expected to earn its makers some five million dollars in the first year. Postal’s makers claim the game is just good, clean fun. But a host of evidence indicates that when we visualize criminal acts, we are not providing ourselves with a harmless outlet. Instead, we are whetting our appetite for the crime itself. For example, a 1988 FBI study showed that 80 percent of violent sexual offenders regularly consume violent pornography. And in Crime and Human Nature, criminologists James Q. Wilson and Richard Heernstein describe studies which link watching violent television with real-life copycat crimes. With computer games, the influence over behavior can be even stronger. What will happen now that people have what amounts to a dress rehearsal for crime? Scripture gives us the answer. The psalmist tells us that as a man thinks in his heart, so he is. In other words, the images we feed our hearts and minds train our appetites—and ultimately influence our behavior. Spiritually speaking, we are what we eat. That’s why Philippians tells us to hold in our minds images of what is pure and beautiful. Thank goodness many stores have decided not to sell Postal. Christians ought to send a message to stores that do carry this vicious game—that Postal goes too far. The next time you visit a computer store, take a good look at the games offered for sale. If you find Postal, take a moment to tell the manager why it’s so dangerous, and that you hope he’ll stop selling it. Otherwise, it may not be long before we read about a computer game player who plays this game—and then goes Postal for real.


Chuck Colson



  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary