The age of algorithms

Published June 3, 2024

WORLD Opinions

In a country where every other highway billboard, it seems, is dedicated to hawking the services of an injury law firm, it’s easy to become cynical about the follies of our litigious society. But although law and morality sometimes have a more distant kinship than we might prefer, we should not allow such cynicism to obscure the real moral and political questions often underlying even frivolous lawsuits. A recent pair of lawsuits by the parents of the tragic Uvalde, Texas, school shooting are a case in point.

Aimed at three defendants—Daniel Defense (makers of the firearm used), Activision (makers of the Call of Duty, a video game played by the shooter that prominently features the firearm), and Meta (whose Instagram platform supposedly radicalized the shooter), the lawsuits look like a classic publicity stunt, or perhaps a gamble to squeeze some settlement money out of deep-pocketed defendants. Daniel Defense should be protected based on the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which shields gun manufacturers and dealers for liability for crimes committed with their weapons. And as for blaming a video-game company and a social media platform because a mentally disturbed user went on a killing rampage—seriously? We might be apt to think the real crime is that of greedy lawyers who would prey on grieving parents in this way.

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Brad Littlejohn, Ph.D., is a Fellow in EPPC’s Evangelicals in Civic Life Program, where his work focuses on helping public leaders understand the intellectual and historical foundations of our current breakdown of public trust, social cohesion, and sound governance. His research investigates shifting understandings of the nature of freedom and authority, and how a more full-orbed conception of freedom, rooted in the Christian tradition, can inform policy that respects both the dignity of the individual and the urgency of the common good. He also serves as President of the Davenant Institute.

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