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Getting Tough On Video Games

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U.S. politicians are lining up to save American children from the evils of violent and sexually-explicit video games. As the November elections get even closer, all kinds of bills are being introduced in Congress in hopes of doing just that. Right now there are multiple bills in Congress that are meant to do everything from ban the sale of “mature” video games to minors, to study the effects electronic media has on kids. A bill ordering the FTC to investigate Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has been passed by both the House and Senate.

A hearing on the topic of violent and sexually explicit games is set for later this month. From C/Net:

Representatives from the Entertainment Software Association, which lobbies for the video game industry, and the Entertainment Safety Ratings Board, which oversees the labeling of games, said the organizations expect to testify.

An ESA representative declined to comment on the group's planned testimony, except to say it views it "as an opportunity to talk about the tools available to parents," such as parental control technology.

In addition to the federal efforts, states have made attempts to pass laws to ban the sale of certain video games to minors. Many of these laws have already been overturned by U.S. courts. Saying they’re unconstitutional, judges so far have lined up in favor of the First Amendment. Politicians, unfortunately, have not, and they seem hell-bent on beating a dead horse.

It would seem lawmakers have nothing better to do than jump on the Hillary Clinton and Joe Lieberman bandwagon. Those two want fines and possible jail terms for those who sell or rent games rated 'M' to minors.

So, what’s my beef with all this?

It’s simple: By trying to make it illegal to rent or sell games to minors, the federal government is overstepping its boundaries. To censor, or not to censor, is a parent’s right, not the local congressman’s. It really is that simple. And, as the courts have seen, it’s also unconstitutional. Add to that the fact that the law would be almost impossible to enforce and costly if it were enforced with vigor, what we have here is just a bunch of hot-air-filled politicians trying to get a vote by putting up a smoke screen to deflect attention from the real issues: the war on terrorism, immigration, crime in general, the state of America’s educational system, and on and on.

By vilifying video games, these politicians have an enemy to fight — one that’s easier and perhaps more headline grabbing. It gives them something else to talk about instead of the real issues. It saves them from saying something wrong on political hot topics such as immigration. In short, it’s a feeble attempt to drum up controversy where it doesn’t belong.

I’m an American parent. I can read video game labels. I can decide what is appropriate for my kids to watch and play. I can screen games and shows in advance of my kids. I’m even smart enough to turn off what I don’t like. I don’t need the federal government to do this for me. And, frankly, I think it’s criminal to try and tag the pimply-faced kid at the video game store with fines and possible jail terms if he happens to sell a game to a minor.

I think of the anti-video game campaign not as one that’s “for children,” but against personal freedoms, parental choice, the U.S. Constitution, and all those pimply-faced kids who are trying to work their way through college peddling titles at the local video game store.

It would appear as if the Bush in Florida is one of the few sensible politicians in office. His stance: parents, not lawmakers, ought to regulate what kids watch. I couldn’t agree more.

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  • Kenn

    Parents…are you there? Instill in your children some responsibilities and manners before the “politicians” decide what is “right” for you and your kids. They’ve made enough inroads in that area already. Playboy & Penthouse for kids? No.. neither should mature/adult video games be either. Video games may have more influence as they are “active” entertainment but you have the control, please use it.