Pokemon Go has been a huge phenomenon across the planet. While video games have widely been criticized as keeping kids indoors and making them lazy by gluing them to couches, this new mobile game from Niantic has people outdoors and off the couch. The game utilizes GPS to create an alternate reality where players can travel the world searching for pocket monsters known as Pokemon.
The new technological development has led to people getting exercise they wouldn’t normally get. Because of how the game is designed, eggs are hatched based on how far a user walks, driving will not work. In order to get rare Pokemon, users have to travel by foot. At the same time, acquiring these eggs and Pokeballs to catch wild Pokemon requires visiting Pokestops. Pokestops are typically places of significance, such as parks, museums, and stores – they have also been places like Veterans Memorials, as is the case in the Lewiston/Auburn, Maine area.
The Lewiston Sun Journal ran a piece by Mark LaFlamme highlighting the debate. To area Poketrainers, the Veterans Memorial is a well known spot; it has three Pokestops, and holds a reputation for spawning numerous rare Pokemon. For these reasons, the memorial attracts a great deal of people.
And this brings us to the question at hand: does it desecrate the land for people to visit the Veterans Memorial for the sake of Pokemon rather than to pay tribute?
Some veterans believe so. LaFlamme interviewed Paul R. Bernard for his article. Bernard is the commander of the New Auburn American Legion post, in addition to being a member of several veterans groups. Bernard takes a heavy handed approach to the game: he wants it banned.
Bernard believes that the purpose of the park is to honor the memory of the fallen who made the ultimate sacrifice. This isn’t wrong. The soldiers did serve the country honorably, and for that reason, they should be remembered.
But what do the soldiers die for?
The military fights to protect our way of life and our country itself from harm. Given that our level of freedom is not enjoyed in many parts of the world, our military fights to protect the liberties we enjoy. Is this freedom selective?
Bernard believes so, when he stated that government should “ban the use of mobile devices with GPS capability that would locate, battle and train creatures called Pokemon”.
Does the military fight to ban the use of mobile devices for gaming purposes?
If people are being disrespectful of a monument – whether it be the Holocaust Museum, which has also reported issues, or the Veterans Memorial – they should be dealt with. However, police have reported minimal incidents in the area and nothing specific to the monument was noted.
It appears that the conflict over Pokemon Go is a mere difference of opinion, not a legal issue. Differences of opinion are what make this country what it is. We have a Constitution and while liberties are under constant attack by external and internal forces, we still enjoy a number of freedoms that others abroad do not. We can have our opinions and freely express them.
Does our military fight and die to ensure we do not have freedom? This is the implication of some veterans groups and leaders like Paul R. Bernard.