Trusty ol' videogame legislation

how to become a law Videogame legislation, I could set my watch by you. I had totally forgot it was that time of year already; I didn’t even buy you a gift. This time around Massachusetts, one of the original thirteen colonies, arrives at the podium having unearthed the thought-dead "games-as-porn" bill.

Louisiana, Okalahoma, Michigan, New York, California, Illinois, Utah, Indiana, Washington, and Minnesota all have one thing in common — other than being part of the United States, that is. They have all tried to put a ban on ‘violent videogames,’ or get them re-listed as pornography. In every single case the Federal Court has ruled their respective bills unconstitutional in respect to the First Amendment.

The current Massachusetts bill, referred to as House Bill 1423, is startlingly similar to House Bill 1381 drafted by a Floridian lawyer that was quickly passed by the state of Louisiana in June 2006. Unfortunately, not five months later, the Federal Court declared it unconstitutional.

I, for one, cannot understand why Massachusetts thinks proposing this games-as-porn bill is a good idea. Will it pass? Most likely, but this is a road traveled thee times before; the aforementioned Louisiana, along with Utah and Washington. And all of these cases have ended with the same result (see above).

Like some of its predecessors, the new bill attempts to redefines the term "harmful to minors" saying "it (1) describes or represents nudity, sexual conduct or sexual excitement, so as to appeal predominantly to the prurient interest of minors; (2) depicts violence in a manner patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community…"

That adult community to which they are always referring is a pretty subjective one, no? Who lives in this "adult community?" Massachusetts better hope it’s not Ron Jeremy, otherwise this bill is tanking fast. Seriously though, how do they define "adult community," and wanting to ban something because it is "offensive" to these made up standards violates the Bill of Rights, a document I learned about in grade school.

The Massachusetts bill has no new tricks up its sleeve, no big guns in its corner, not even an exploit of a loophole — just fancy recycled words on white paper that will be shuffled off to Washington DC in an appeal by the ESA. To attempt to pass another video games-as-porn act is outright silly, and more importantly has become costly to tax payers.

When House Bill 1381 was overturned a Federal Judge ruled that the state of Louisiana had to pay the ESA’s litigation fees, a cost of almost $92,000. Where does that money come from? Tax payers. In Illinois it was even worse. The state appealed the federal "unconstitutional" verdict twice, lost both times, then neglected to pay the ESA’s litigation fees. By the end of their whole mess the state of Illinois had spent over 1 million dollars fighting a battle that had already been lost in several other states.

Imagine if Chicago’s inner-city schools had an extra million dollars added to their budget. It would amount to more computers in classrooms and better after school programs keeping children off the streets. It would raise the literacy level and more kids would go to college. Instead that money collected by taxes is forced to pay lawyers’ fees.

Massachusetts should learn from the past, or be doomed to repeat it. Their bill is not the first of its kind, and *spoiler warning* will be shot down on a federal level just like the ten previous bills. The people who suffer are not only gamers, but everyone who pays taxes. We shouldn’t worry about Elliot Spitzor spending 80 grand on prostitutes; we should worry about congressmen spending a million dollars trying to overturn the Bill of Rights.

If anyone lives in Massachusetts write your congressman. Tell them you would rather have your money go to schools instead of fighting an already-lost-battle against videogames. Send them over to GamerNode. We’ll straighten them out.

[via GamePolitics]


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Author: Creighton DeSimone View all posts by

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