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Censor Watch

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leper73
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#1

Posted 17 May 2005 - 06:08 AM

UPDATE: I am pleased to bring you the news that two bills, including one of the more restrictive, have failed. Arkansas' HB 1852 has died in committee upon adjournment; and so has Florida's S1148. Both would criminalize the sale of violent video games to minors (the Florida bill would have made it a felony).

Some bad news also accompanies this. Two bills in Michigan, SB0416, which would outlaw the sale of "ultra-violent" material (which is not limited to just video games), and SB0249, which does explicitly deal with video games (and does not allow purchase even with parental permission), have both overwhelmingly passed the senate, and are on their way to the House. For those living in Michigan, contact your representatives and tell them to oppose each of these bills. In addition to the game cases that have set precedent (once again, American Amusement Machine Association v. Kendrick, Interactive Digital Software Association v. St. Louis County, and Video Software Dealers Association v. Maleng, also mention the cases of Winters v. New York and Eclipse Enterprises Inc. v. Gulota. These last two cases have ruled that violence is a distinct category from obscenity, and therefore cannot be regulated as such.

Other updates: Georgia has officially passed a bill requiring retailers to post the ESRB rating system. Censor Watch does not oppose this law, as it does not restrict anyone's ability to purchase games, and it sets out to do what the ratings system was originally intended for: to provide information. California Assemblyman Leland Yee is meeting with industry representatives to consider a "compromise" bill before the full Assembly vote (what this is I couldn't tell you, as last year's decision to enact legislation similar to the Georgia bill mentioned above was enough of a compromise). Meanwhile, the Illinois bill has undergone several other minor amendments before it is presented to the Senate (again, no further details were given).

Keep the pressure on your legislators, especially where the bills are progressing. We can't let them win.

ferrarimanf355
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#2

Posted 20 May 2005 - 03:35 PM

leper, you might want to put Illinois on critical mass.
http://www.il.gov/Pr...D=3&RecNum=3977

leper73
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#3

Posted 21 May 2005 - 12:54 AM

That's it. As people who have read ferrariman's link know, Illinois' bill is all but law now. It just passed the Senate, and all it needs is Rod Blagojevich's signature, and since he's the one who was egging the legislature on to pass it, it will be on the books in a matter of days. And it apparently got passed on my birthday, too! (My birthday must be jinxed for nanny laws historically; Prohibition was passed on May 19, 1919. A little interesting historical fact, at least for me) Governor Rod would make a hell of a used car salesman, but unfortunately he's in the domain of public policy.

Now here's the good news, and it's not that I just switched to Geico: the bill is doomed to failure in the courts. This is the same jurisdiction that rendered the decision in American Amusement Machine Association v. Kendrick. That court, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unconstitutional an ordinance passed by the City of Indianapolis that was exactly identical to this act, except that it specifically targeted arcades. Unfortunately, it will probably take at least a year for this to even be heard in court, and even longer if the federal court upholds it and goes to the appellate court again. But especially if Richard Posner is still on the bench, this will not survive.

Taxman
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#4

Posted 22 May 2005 - 03:28 AM

Nothing has changed on the Michigan bills (from what I can tell), but if it passes, Lansing burns.

leper73
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#5

Posted 28 May 2005 - 12:35 AM

UPDATE: Sources on the International Game Developers Association message board have said that the District of Columbia bill, which would define M-rated games as obscene to minors, will vote on the bill June 15, and it is expected to pass unanimously. For anyone who lives in the DC area, contact the city council, and tell them to vote against this bill. Mention the myriad court cases (see my last post for cases both in and out of the gaming industry dealing with violence-as-obscenity). This was why I was worried about the Illinois bill passing: the possibility of a domino effect could lead to more cases than the ESA could handle.

leper73
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#6

Posted 29 May 2005 - 08:20 AM

BREAKING NEWS: The bad news continues, as Minnesota's Senate recently passed its video game bill 51-10. SF 785, introduced by Sandra Pappas, would fine not the retailers who sell the games, but the minors who buy them. This is a gross violation of the First Amendment. Minnesotans must move on this now and contact their state representatives to oppose this bill.

ferrarimanf355
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#7

Posted 04 June 2005 - 01:14 AM

Thread bumped.
GamePolitics.com is reporting that the anti-video game bill in California has been tabled, meaning that a vote won't happen until the fall. If you live in California, please take the extra time to write a letter to your assemblyperson now. The IGDA has a good starter point:
http://www.igda.org/...l-to-action.php
Keep up the heat, guys! colgate.gif

ferrarimanf355
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#8

Posted 08 June 2005 - 06:24 PM

Thread bumped.
Here's an op-ed Gerard Jones wrote for the LA Times that assails the CA anti-video game legislation.
QUOTE
HEADLINE: New fools' crusade targets video games

BYLINE: By GERARD JONES

BODY:

I hate "Grand Theft Auto." Yes, I know it's a masterpiece of video-game design that ingeniously weaves its caustic jokes on urban reality into a complex narrative; hundreds of gamers have told me so. I still hate its cheap use of spraying blood and globe-breasted cholas to snare young male attention and its snarky indulgence in bad taste - carjackers beating up hookers - in place of real satire. Mostly, I hate that, as a believer in the need for free popular culture and the validity of young people's desire for antisocial stories, I find myself having to defend it again and again.

Well, it's happening again. The California Assembly is expected to vote soon on a foolish and dangerous bill, AB 450, which would criminalize the sale or rental of a video game possessing "violent content" to anyone younger than 18. Similar laws have passed recently in Illinois and Michigan, and more are in process elsewhere.

We are in another of America's periodic prohibitionist crusades against entertainment forms that offend adult sensibilities, and once again our leaders seem determined to miss the point that each one of those crusades has already made: They don't work. In fact, they always backfire.

In the 1950s, the targets were comic books; in the 1930s, gangster movies. Politicians and reformers have launched lesser forays against gangster rap, Elvis, slapstick cartoons, the Three Stooges, jazz and just about every other noisy product that comes off the cultural fringes to seize people ages 13 to 30 and disgust their parents.

The pattern is reliable. A new medium or genre appears, selling itself partly with shock value and the things young people like - which inevitably includes bad taste.

There is a cry of horror from teachers and parents who wish to believe that adolescents won't think about sex and gore unless they are "exposed" to them. Then research is created to demonstrate the medium's negative effects, usually by social scientists who already dislike the offending material and design studies that seek only the negative, never the positive. Always, "Does this make the child more aggressive?" Never, "Does it make the child feel freer, bolder, more resilient?" Never even, "Does it make him more aggressive than, say, playing soccer?"

Finally, the legislators move in, for no fruit hangs lower in the political orchard than entertainment loved by kids and nonvoting geeks in their 20s. When the Illinois Legislature passed its video-game law, Democratic Sen. Mike Jacobs said: "I'm going to vote for this bill, but I'm voting for it for one reason - because this is a political bill. If I vote against it, it will show up in a campaign mail piece."

In the early 1950s, the U.S. Senate assailed comic books for supposedly contributing to juvenile delinquency. As a result, many comics that are now considered great works of popular art were killed and the medium's development was retarded. Die-hard comics fans reacted with an "underground comics" movement that eventually spawned material far more offensive to adult taste than any of the comics excoriated by the Senate. And, of course, juvenile delinquency didn't go down. In fact, it went steadily up for the next quarter of a century.

I say "of course" because I don't think anyone, not even the authors of bills such as AB 450, really believes that such legislation will have any effect on real-world crime. Since bloody "first-person shooter" games hit the market about 15 years ago, violent crime in America has dropped nearly 30 percent. Youth crime has dropped even faster than adult crime. A few hideous acts have been perpetrated by kids who played video games, but the same acts have been perpetrated by kids who didn't. All the numbers show that young Americans aren't nearly as violent, criminal or disrespectful of laws and other people as was my generation in the 1970s.

Bills such as AB 450 are eruptions of offended taste, and like all such eruptions only aggravate what they're supposed to stop. We all know that every kid who really wants to play "Grand Theft Auto" will find a way. The law will only add the glamour of contraband to the experience. That's how prohibition always works.

Access to video games is restricted by the same types of ratings and retail policies as R-rated movies. It's a porous system, but one that most of us have accepted as good enough. We don't need laws making shock entertainment look sexier and more powerful than it is. We don't need our police wasting their resources putting careless Best Buy clerks in prison for selling games.

And we don't need our lawmakers throwing themselves into an unwinnable war against the eternal forces of adolescent bad taste. Grown-up reality should be enough for them.

Gerard Jones, the father of a sixth-grade boy, is the author of "Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters and the Birth of the Comic Book." He wrote this article for the Los Angeles Times.

leper73
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#9

Posted 15 June 2005 - 08:37 PM

BREAKING NEWS: Louisiana has also introduced and advanced legislation that would restrict game sales to minors. Representative Roy Burrell has introduced HB 523, which would extend definitions of harmful material to include video games. So far, it has passed the House and is pending in the Senate. The bill only mentions sexual, as opposed to violent material, so this may be extremely difficult to defeat this on constitutional grounds. Under Miller v. California and Ginsberg v. New York, it could very well meet the definitions of obscenity.

Also, the District of Columbia is scheduled to vote on their video game ordinance today, and it is expected to pass. I will have the results later on today or tomorrow.

ferrarimanf355
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#10

Posted 14 July 2005 - 03:03 PM

This thread hasn't seen action in a month, but there is a noticable development to note, in that Hillary Clinton is on the "ban the video games" bandwagon.
http://clinton.senat...cfm?id=240603&
Now, I do admire Hillary and her husband, but it's moments like this that make me really want to re-register as a Republican. If Democrats are using video games as a political football to get the values voters, it will fail miserably. You can quote me on that.
Oh, and Jack Thompson spoke again...
http://www.kotaku.co...tion-112565.php

leper73
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#11

Posted 14 July 2005 - 09:33 PM Edited by leper73, 14 July 2005 - 09:37 PM.

Hilary will take anything David Walsh says as gospel, but would it ever cross her mind to pick up a copy of Killing Monsters and read how violent games can actually help kids? That would not be politically savvy, and would cost her votes. It's clear Hilary's motives aren't to prevent another Columbine or similar tragedy. She is trying to put out a family-values platform to posture herself for a 2008 presidential run (see Blagojevich, Rod). I'm predicting a Hilary-Blago ticket that will go down in flames. I'm just hoping the Republicans nominate someone middle of the road like Giuliani or Powell. I'd even vote for McCain against those two.

Not to go too far off-topic, we have for the first time since Joe Baca's attempts in 2002 and 2003 with the Protect Children from Video Game Sex and Violence Act, censorship legislation at the federal level. This will be introduced in the Senate this time, so be sure to contact BOTH senators in your state (senators represent your entire state, not just a region like congressmen). Ferrariman and I will keep track of the bill number and provisions, and how it is constitutionally flawed.

ferrarimanf355
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#12

Posted 15 July 2005 - 09:05 PM

QUOTE (leper73 @ Jul 14 2005, 17:33)
Hilary will take anything David Walsh says as gospel, but would it ever cross her mind to pick up a copy of Killing Monsters and read how violent games can actually help kids? That would not be politically savvy, and would cost her votes. It's clear Hilary's motives aren't to prevent another Columbine or similar tragedy. She is trying to put out a family-values platform to posture herself for a 2008 presidential run (see Blagojevich, Rod). I'm predicting a Hilary-Blago ticket that will go down in flames. I'm just hoping the Republicans nominate someone middle of the road like Giuliani or Powell. I'd even vote for McCain against those two.

Not to go too far off-topic, we have for the first time since Joe Baca's attempts in 2002 and 2003 with the Protect Children from Video Game Sex and Violence Act, censorship legislation at the federal level. This will be introduced in the Senate this time, so be sure to contact BOTH senators in your state (senators represent your entire state, not just a region like congressmen). Ferrariman and I will keep track of the bill number and provisions, and how it is constitutionally flawed.

If it's Hillary and/or Blagojevich on the Democratic ticket, then I'm voting Republican in 2008. I really hope that video gamers wake up and vote.

If and when this bill is introduced, I'll send a few e-mails to my senators (Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez) explaining why they should oppose the bill.

leper73
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#13

Posted 15 July 2005 - 09:15 PM

Good thinking, but try to write an actual paper letter. Everyone says it's more convincing, and they will take more time to read it. I'll do the same for my senators (Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein).

ferrarimanf355
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#14

Posted 17 July 2005 - 01:39 PM

Lemme just add something here.
GamePolitics.com reports that the Illinois anti-video game bill will be officially signed into law in the next couple of days. I fully expect Gov. Blagojevich to mention the Hot Coffee mod while signing the bill.

You might also want to read this:
http://www.pjstar.co...EU372.048.shtml

I'm also going to write a letter to Common Sense Media explaning my position on this and other things regarding video games.

ferrarimanf355
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#15

Posted 19 July 2005 - 03:52 PM

Thread bumped.
The anti-video game law in Illinois is expected to be signed into law about an hour or so after I finish typing this. Expect a swift legal challenge from the ESA, IGDA and IEMA.

leper73
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#16

Posted 19 July 2005 - 07:51 PM

As an update, the signing was cancelled and indefinitely postponed. Blago has until August 6th to sign it before it dies, and I'm sure he will.

ferrarimanf355
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#17

Posted 19 July 2005 - 09:39 PM

QUOTE (leper73 @ Jul 19 2005, 15:51)
As an update, the signing was cancelled and indefinitely postponed. Blago has until August 6th to sign it before it dies, and I'm sure he will.

Perhaps he didn't have enough people for the confrence, or that he wanted Sen. Demuizo, who wasn't invited...

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#18

Posted 25 July 2005 - 04:21 AM

The IL bill signing will happen today at noon Illinois time. Oddly enough, that's also the time I should be waking up from the sedatives after getting my wisdom teeth pulled. Figures... sad.gif

leper73
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#19

Posted 25 July 2005 - 09:35 PM Edited by leper73, 25 July 2005 - 10:35 PM.

The reason he delayed the signing: he wanted media coverage. The day it was originally scheduled, Bush was going to select his Supreme Court nominee, and there was a scandal involving the mayor of Chicago. He wanted the press because he's going for the presidency and all.

The ESA is already drafting the lawsuit to challenge this law on constitutional grounds. We will keep this topic updated as much as possible as this story develops. This will most likely be another case to cite when challenging future laws.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Michigan is close to passing a law that would outlaw the sale of games with sexually explicit content to minors. This bill was introduced before the Hot Coffee fiasco, however, that surely propelled it along. While this can be considered obscenity to minors under Ginsberg v. New York, it is unclear which games will be affected (ie what about the new, Coffee-free San Andreas?). It appears this will pass, as all it needs is the signature from an anti-game Governor. There is nothing we can do about this, since only violence seems to have First Amendment protection today.




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