Going Postal: Violent Video Game Raises Questions

David Berkowitz aka 'Son of Sam'

Yonkers, New York, resident David Berkowitz, also known as "Son of Sam" or the .44 caliber killer, was convicted of six killings over a period of time beginning in 1976. He told police he was commanded to kill by his neighbor's possessed dog.
Yonkers, New York, resident David Berkowitz, also known as "Son of Sam" or the .44 caliber killer, was convicted of six killings over a period of time beginning in 1976. He told police he was commanded to kill by his neighbor's possessed dog. | Source

Going Postal?

Warning: This is a very violent video.
Warning: This is a very violent video.

Where there's smoke there's fire, the cliché declares.

As with all clichés, there may be something to that, but, in the words of a great old song, it ain't necessarily so.

The smoke we speak of today refers to the great plumes that have been billowing above the United States post offices since August 1986 when an Edmund, Okla., postal worker killed 15 colleagues. Incidents of "crazed mass violence" have been occurring at an alarming pace over the last decade.

Violent Incidents Hit Home

These incidents hit home with me because of my hometown, Yonkers, N.Y., (David Berkowitz -- better known as "Son of Sam") and my present abode, Darien, Connecticut (remember the bra strangulations of area prostitutes, with religious overtones?) Each had postal employees who were accused of heinous crimes. Present and former Yonkers residents remain fascinated by the fact that they lived near "Son of Sam." Even the apartment building where David Berkowitz lived has changed not only its name but its street number.

Also, my late brother was a former Darien (Conn.) and Pompano Beach, Fla., letter carrier, and my daughter (Beth) who once worked for the Portland, Maine, post office.

Going Postal Computer Game

All this came to the front burner recently when the Associated Press reported that a computer game called "Postal" drew the criticism of outraged post office workers.

In the game, a disgruntled, raincoat-clad man takes to the street, shotgun in hand, and shoots down police, pedestrians, a marching band, church-goers. As men and women fall, bleeding, the shooter mutters, "Going Postal." Only the title and the muttered phrase liken the game to mail carriers.

One union official pointed out that it's unfair to depict postal workers as "violent terrorists" and referred to a planned national boycott of the video game. Postmaster General Marvin Runyon worries that the game perpetuates a stereotype and does a "grave disservice" to postal employees.

Postal Service Policies Questioned

Certainly, the U.S. Postal Service cannot be held criminally liable for the sins of its employees. There is, however, a whole lot of smoke, and it's probably a good idea for the top administration to look into its policies and management /hiring practices (Just look at the machinations within the Internal Revenue Service.)

I vividly recall the angst of a local letter carrier who told me on several occasions in 1970 about management practices that involved, for example, supervisors timing his route to compare their estimates to the time it took him to complete his rounds. Sounds good, but it's the kind of thing that doesn't leave employees with a feeling of good will.

Unfairly Maligned Postal Workers

Postal workers are often unfairly maligned for everything ranging from late mail deliveries to poor window service and bad manners.

"Postal," the game, is not only unfair to post office workers but it adds to a flood of undesirable video games, television shows and movies that negatively influence our nation's youth.

Sure, violence and gore sell! But that doesn't mean responsible people have to use it to make a buck. Not only is it something that wastes our youngsters' time, but it prevents them from pursuing more fruitful and uplifting activities.

Wouldn't it be a good idea for the House Judiciary Committee, after completion of its review of the IRS, to take up the policies and practices of post office management?

I wrote this column as a "My View" for The Hour newspaper of Norwalk, Conn., on Nov. 29, 1997. I now write my views on a wide variety of topics on HubPages. To view my HubPages Profile Click Here

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Warning: Going Postal 2. This is a Very Violent Video Game

Son of Sam Speaks From Prison

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Comments 6 comments

Bob 8 years ago

Bill...Where's all the responses on this one ?


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William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

I don't know, Bob. It's been a little slow this week. I think they thought this was about a casino game, and they're all losing their shirts on one of those casino sites on the Web!


Bob 8 years ago

Bill......JUst watched the tape.....One comment........SICK !!!!


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William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

I agree, Bob. I don't know why our kiids would want to watch this kind of thing.


JBM 8 years ago

Unfortunately many large corporations and government organizations are managed to a large degree by people who have lost touch with the "street", which is where the little guys and gals, (postal workers included), work on a daily basis. Many of the frustrations felt in the workplace are the result of poor management and self serving interests of some, of the managers themselves.

The men and women of the postal service simply go to work every day in the interest of providing for their families. I'm sure that most of them take pride in their service and their personal dedication to it. It's so unfair that they should be branded in this way. "Postal" should be spoken as a positive term rather than related to the actions of a few deranged individuals. And it most certainly should not be a term that prompts visions of a sick game where our kids actually play a role in the violent action.

Should the HJC review the Postal Service? Absolutely!

Unfortunately producers of film, video games, music videos, etc. can't be held accountable in the same fashion. Hopefully, our kids will eventually become bored with this type of garbage being produced which is so void of any real talent and entertainment value that it requires violence,sex,and drugs to sell it.

Thank God for the likes of Tiger Woods who proudly stands as a shining positive role model for our kids.

William, you've written an amazing volume of incredible material. I suppose you can tell that this one struck a chord with me.

Thanks for a great Hub!


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William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

When my daughter worked at the Portland, Maine, post office she used to tell me horror stories about management. Undoubtedly because of pressure from on high, the postal workers were treated very poorly. It apparently was institutional. As you say, the men and women who work for the postal service are just doing their jobs and trying to feed their families. I appreciate your insightful comments, JBM. Thanks.

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