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Jack Thompson's Game Bill Moves Forward

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the those-are-words-i-hate-to-see-together dept.

272

Gamespot reports that the Jack Thompson-penned anti-games bill currently being considered by the Louisiana Senate Judiciary Committee has been approved, and will now go to the full Senate for debate. From the article: "According to the text of the bill, it would be illegal to sell, rent, or lease a game to a minor if it met the following three conditions: (1) The average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the video or computer game, taken as a whole, appeals to the minor's morbid interest in violence. (2) The game depicts violence in a manner patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community with respect to what is suitable for minors. (3) The game, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors."

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272 comments

Keith Curtis Hate Bill Moves Forward (1)

Keith Curtis (923118) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446531)

No Irish Need Apply - fuckers

Repeat it with me.... (1)

Asshat Canada (804093) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446548)

Worst. Country. Ever.

Legislation, meet morality (4, Insightful)

linvir (970218) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446568)

Legislatin morality [midwestoutreach.org] is one thing, but it should at least have some form of stability. This bill seems to be nothing more than an include() for a dynamically changeable external form of morality. If law were an operating system, the hackers would be pissing themselves out of excitement waiting for all the exploits they could write using this.

And now the eternal question: what the fuck would be wrong with simply enforcing the existing, objective, ubiquitous rating system? You know, like we do here in Britain? It sounds to me like he's deliberately avoiding this because he wants to create a situation in which he can sit back and pick targets at his leisure.

Re:Legislation, meet morality (3, Insightful)

Vengeance (46019) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446635)

An insight I've had myself in the past: The law is indeed an operating system for the nation.

Software developers like myself can see the mass of spaghetti which has been the direct result of a bunch of rank amateurs writing the code ad-hoc. Additionally, we can see their failings when it comes to poorly-understand complexity and unintended results of actions.

See Genetic Engineering for some similar concerns.

Re:Legislation, meet morality (2, Insightful)

cptgrudge (177113) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446759)

The law is indeed an operating system for the nation.

Reminds me of that /. sig that someone has around;

"Want the root password to the US Constitution? Try Child Pornography."

or something like that...

Re:Legislation, meet morality (4, Insightful)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446661)

> Legislatin morality [midwestoutreach.org] is one thing, but it should at least have some form of stability. This bill seems to be nothing more than an include() for a dynamically changeable external form of morality. If law were an operating system, the hackers would be pissing themselves out of excitement waiting for all the exploits they could write using this.

Law is an operating system, and those who hack it are called politicians. From their point of view, these exploits are features, not bugs.

And now the eternal question: what the fuck would be wrong with simply enforcing the existing, objective, ubiquitous rating system? You know, like we do here in Britain? It sounds to me like he's deliberately avoiding this because he wants to create a situation in which he can sit back and pick targets at his leisure.

"Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?" said Dr. Ferris. "We want them broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against - then you'll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We're after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you'd better get wise to it. There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens' What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted - and you create a nation of law-breakers - and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Rearden, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with."

- Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, 1957

...is why.

Re:Legislation, meet morality (1)

wiggles (30088) | more than 8 years ago | (#15447004)

The problem with enforcing the rating system is that legislating enforcement of this rating system runs afoul of the first amendment as interpreted by the SCOTUS. Thompson's law will most likely run afoul of it as well.

Re:Legislation, meet morality (2, Informative)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 8 years ago | (#15447312)

I think he knows it will eventually be struck down, but it will get a lot of publicity for him as it winds its way through the courts. This is of course his main objective, self-promotion.

Re:Legislation, meet morality (2, Insightful)

Surt (22457) | more than 8 years ago | (#15447120)

Enforcing a rating system in the US is very hard due to issues with our first amendment rights to free speech. And the person in question actually has worked to try to write rating system enforcement legislation, and has had no luck there (gets overturned in our courts every time due to aforementioned first amendment issues).

What we need is a voluntary agreement by the 3 major retailers of games to abide by the ratings system voluntarily, but no one wants to be the first mover on that issue because of the sales loss they'll take. The only thing that will change this, frankly, is if enough parents get up in arms about this to coordinate a serious boycott of walmart to force them to make the first move on enforcement.

The law isn't the sole purpose of the bill (3, Interesting)

Crash Culligan (227354) | more than 8 years ago | (#15447332)

And now the eternal question: what the fuck would be wrong with simply enforcing the existing, objective, ubiquitous rating system? You know, like we do here in Britain? It sounds to me like he's deliberately avoiding this because he wants to create a situation in which he can sit back and pick targets at his leisure.

While that would be a big win for him, look at the bigger picture: he keeps introducing legislation which says basically that OMFG TEH GAMEZ ARE TURNING UR KIDS INTO KILLAHS!!!1!!ONE!ELEVENTY. It gets reported on. And those who don't know better buy the subtext and become that much more worried.

It's said that if something gets repeated enough times, people will believe it. (As long as that phrase has been bouncing around, it must be true.) If he tells people enough people that video games are dangerous, then it doesn't matter if they strike down his dumbass laws now so long as they come to believe it eventually and outlaw them then.

It's meme warfare, pure and simple. And amazingly, it's so pure and simple that he probably doesn't even recognize it.

Re:The law isn't the sole purpose of the bill (1)

linvir (970218) | more than 8 years ago | (#15447490)

It's meme warfare, pure and simple. And amazingly, it's so pure and simple that he probably doesn't even recognize it.
He's a devoutly religious too, so if you even explained to him what a meme was, his defensive systems would block you out completely.

"America's Army" video game (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 8 years ago | (#15447518)

America's Army is a propaganda tool\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ "... an accurate portrayal of Soldier experiences .." video game put out by the US Army. Does it count as encouraging violence, or does it count as permitted "political education"?

Fine with me IF... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446573)

...rental places and retail outlets can have a flag (or note or whatever) saying that kids are allowed to rent games if their parents give permission. It's reasonable (IMO) to help parents with parenting. It's not reasonable to make parenting choices FOR parents.

I kind of doubt this bill has such a provision, though, and as such it should be used to choke jack thompson to death.

Re:Fine with me IF... (1)

(A)*(B)!0_- (888552) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446856)

"It's not reasonable to make parenting choices FOR parents."
Oh that's exactly what I want - my name on a list that anyone, including the government, would have access to. No, there's no need for lists or government involvement at all. There's a ratings system. Retailers generally observe it just as movie theatres generally observe the MPAA ratings system. There's no need for government involvement anywhere here. My kids know what games they can and can't purchase without Big Brother stepping in.

this is crap (5, Insightful)

sepharious (900148) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446579)

there is no standard, no definition, of what is offensive or objectionable. it leaves open wide interpretation and would open businesses to frivolous lawsuits based on someone's ill-informed position on a game. "oh well, I find that Mario portrays violent acts of an offensive nature"

Re:this is crap (3, Interesting)

MrSquirrel (976630) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446695)

Mario is a BAD influence. Jumping on turtles? Eating mushrooms? Playing with fire? I don't want my kid around that. When I drop my 12 year old off and give him $60 (~price of a new game) at the mall to do whatever he wants for 12 hours while I go spend the day at my crackhouse, I don't want him buying garbage like that Mario character! Honestly... there is already a rating system in place - enforcing that is easy and it is actually based on real criteria (rather than saying "any game that we think at any place and time is bad"). Last time I checked, no one under 16 could drive a car -- so how the heck are kids getting to these game stores to buy violent video games? And how are they paying for it (I don't know many places that load up on little kids as employees)? Oh, that's right... parents. But why actually be a good parent when you can have laws do your work for you? Go-go-gadget-government!

Vague Legislation==Job Stability for Lawyers (3, Insightful)

Alaren (682568) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446848)

I am starting Law School in the fall, and this is why. This kind of thing has to stop, but the only people who can challenge the lawyers are... lawyers.

For here we see past Jack Thompson's usual craziness and into the heart of the matter: cash. A law this vague does not just allow interpretation, it demands interpretation. Repeatedly, since "community standards" are never obvious and often changing. Every case will need expert witnesses, and who is more established as an "expert" in video game law than Jack Thompson?

Re:Vague Legislation==Job Stability for Lawyers (1)

LewsTherinKinslayer (817418) | more than 8 years ago | (#15447532)

i'm considering law school myself for similar reasons.

this kind of legislation is actually very similar to another interesting bit of the history of law in this country: the miller test. [wikipedia.org] This is essentially the "calculus" used to determine whether or not something is obscene, as created by the SCOTUS. It is absolutely subjective.

Re:this is crap (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15446860)

there is no standard, no definition, of what is offensive or objectionable.

So? I think Jack Thompson is a real dickhead, but the definition there is similar to obscenity laws in many countries, including the USA. It's true that there's no rigid definition of what is offensive to society - because that changes over time and with context. It's the court's job to determine what is offensive in each particular case.

I hate vague laws as much as anybody, but in some cases, you simply can't come up with a rigid definition.

Here's an exercise for the knee-jerkers: when do you think it's acceptable to sell a game to a minor that appeals to a morbid interest in violence AND is patently offensive to adult standards AND has no literary, artistic, political or scientific value? Do you also support selling scat porn and other obscenities to children too?

I can't think of a single game which would be illegal to sell to minors under this law, because apart from anything else, you can consider virtually all of them have artistic value.

Re:this is crap (1)

Marnhinn (310256) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446861)

(Gamespot is blocked from where I am ATM - so I'm going off the summary)

I don't think it will be as bad as it seems. The bill (if the text in the summary is right) uses "contemporary community standards" to make judgement. While you might have people sue over junk for a little while, it should be pretty easy for a defense attonery to produce evidence that shows the "community" at large is a big consumer of the games, and therefore - shouldn't object.

Reminds me of the defense used to keep that adult store open in Provo, Utah. (The defense was able to show that the community was a large consumer of porn - irregardless of what the people said).

Re:this is crap (1)

pthor1231 (885423) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446993)

Irregardless [m-w.com] is not a word. Regardless is a word, and probably means what you are trying to say.

Re:this is crap (2, Funny)

Macthorpe (960048) | more than 8 years ago | (#15447568)

From the site you linked to:

Irregardless originated in dialectal American speech in the early 20th century. Its fairly widespread use in speech called it to the attention of usage commentators as early as 1927. The most frequently repeated remark about it is that "there is no such word." There is such a word, however. It is still used primarily in speech, although it can be found from time to time in edited prose. Its reputation has not risen over the years, and it is still a long way from general acceptance. Use regardless instead.

Well done. You proved that irregardless isn't a word by linking to an article that specifically says it's a word. What's the fun in shooting people down if they hand you the gun fully loaded?

Re:this is crap (1)

gorbachev (512743) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446988)

Of course there's a definition.

The definition is "whatever Jack Thompson finds offensive or objectionable". Today it's video game violence, yesterday it was rap music, tomorrow it is?

Sounds pretty sensible (0)

StonyUK (173886) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446581)

It's a shame that a new law needs to be written to compensate for parent's poor parenting skills, but would you want your child to be watching / playing anything that falls into categories (1) or (2)? I certainly don't, and anything that helps prevent it is OK by me.

Re:Sounds pretty sensible (1)

qeveren (318805) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446644)

You could... oh, I don't know, maybe try being a parent, instead?

no it doesnt (1)

sepharious (900148) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446668)

The nanny state only serves to further weaken the family unit by taking responsiblity from the parents. It doesnt matter how terrible the games are, it is the parent's sole responsiblity to raise the children, instilling in them the values that the parents see fit, and pay attention to what their children are doing. Each additional law and agency formed to raise people's children for them moves us closer to a McParent World, where corporations and government are the ones dictating the values and morals of the new generation. Grow a pair, step up to the plate and be a parent. If you're going to reproduce, be prepared for the consequences and STFU.

Re:no it doesnt (1)

StonyUK (173886) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446873)

Seems to me that the only people upset by this would be people who want their kids to have access to this stuff. Are you also opposed to the minimum age for sex, booze and theatres throwing kids out when they try and get into R rated movies?

I just don't understand the problem here - if little Johnny is hanging out with friends, tries to rent an M rated game and is refused, then what is the problem? That's all good as far as I can see. If that's a problem for you, then go out and rent little Johnny his copy of GTA. While you're at it, could you pick him up another pack of Camels and some more Trojans?

I suppose another alternative is that you are minor who is stands to be prevented from playing all those fun and gory 'M' rated games too :)

Re:Sounds pretty sensible (1)

Kamots (321174) | more than 8 years ago | (#15447151)

I dunno, my dad got me copies of wolfenstien and doom back when those were new... and I hadn't even asked for them! (Mainly because I didn't even know they existed... hey... I was young! :P)

Interestingly enough, I was being provided these games yet wasn't allowed to watch R rated movies at a friends place. (At home with parents involved though I was.)

Now, I think I've turned out all right. I mean I only indulge in the occasional slaughter of innocent civilians, it's not like it's something I do every night!

Seriously, different parents have different standards, and trying to apply your standards to everyone just doens't work.

Uh.. (0)

MImeKillEr (445828) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446617)

Is this even a problem?

From TFA:

"According to the text of the bill, it would be illegal to sell, rent, or lease a game to a minor" .. if they meet three specific criterias.

As a parent, I ask how many of you parents want your 9 year old purchasing GTA?

Granted, Thompson is a tool, but how is this really an issue? As soon as they tell the adults that they can't do the same, we'll have an issue.

Re:Uh.. (3, Insightful)

falcon8080 (975701) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446937)

How is this an issue?

Its an issue because 1) The definitions are intentionally vague 2) It is defining what is morally acceptable and enforcing it by law and 3) It is a good beginning.

The first 2 points should be fairly clear, let me explain the third.
If someone were to introduce a law to ban all violent video games, it would get shot down. If someone were to introduce a bill that once passed into law would allow others through lawsuits to build the definitions of what is morally 'correct', then it would not take much to slowly adjust the bill until it had strangled adult games into a 'near criminal obsession by a few lonely gun carrying nut jobs'.
I hate the term, but its near classic 'slippery slope'.

Besides, do you really want to be told how to raise your child by someone else?

Re:Uh.. (5, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446943)

As a parent, I ask how many of you parents want your 9 year old purchasing GTA?

Okay, you're a parent with a 9 year old (or at least was/will be 9 years old)...

1) How did your 9 year old get the money to buy GTA?
2) How did your 9 year old get to the mall to buy GTA?
3) How did your 9 year old get it home without you knowing?
4) How did your 9 year old play it at home without you being aware?

I see a lot of potential for parenting in there that the state is supposedly going to do for you now. So the question is: why does this need to be a crime? What if you gave your child permission to buy a game that met the three vague criteria but you didn't consider harmful?

We can talk about GTA which I'd think most people would agree is not suitable for young children, but you know there are going to be ridiculous cases where this applies -- assuming anyone knows in advance what games are affected, meaning it could be the game stores themselves which apply the rules to ridiculous cases just to cover their own asses. This is the problem with legistlating moral standards, and it isn't going to work this time.

We've gotten along fine without making it a crime to let someone under 18 into an R-rated movie. I'd be willing to bet most adults snuck into an R-rated movie at some point in their youths, and while they would rather their own kids not do the same, they probably wouldn't think criminal prosecution of the theatre is necessary if they did. Yet video games, which so many of that generation simply don't understand and thus are deathly afraid of, suddenly require a whole new set of laws to protect the children (so the parents don't have to).

Re:Uh.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15447469)

1) How did your 9 year old get the money to buy GTA?
2) How did your 9 year old get to the mall to buy GTA?
3) How did your 9 year old get it home without you knowing?
4) How did your 9 year old play it at home without you being aware?


1) Grandma loves to give out money to grandchild
2) Grandma has no clue about video games and can't say no to grandchild
3) See (2)
4) Parents are at work becoz it cost too damn much money to live a good life and Grandma is sleeping in the corner chair.

Yes I agree parents need to take more care of their children but with todays busy life style it doesn't hurt to make it illegal to sell a Rated M to a minor. If you do take care of your own children then what do you have to worry about?

Re:Uh.. (2, Insightful)

wolenczak (517857) | more than 8 years ago | (#15447497)

Money to buy it? If you have a 9yr older playing GTA bet he got it from a friend/peernetwork, not from your pocket.

Yeah, really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15446986)

Minors should just get older. It just takes time.

Re:Uh.. (3, Insightful)

karil (978550) | more than 8 years ago | (#15447030)

As a parent I ask you, how would your 9 year old get the money to buy GTA? As a parent I ask you, how would your 9 year old get away with playing GTA without your knowledge? Whats wrong with this bill is it holds retail stores liable for your responsibilities as a parent. This bill is designed to scare stores into not carrying M rated games. effectivly telling me, an adult, I cannot buy this game...now we have an issue.

there's only one word for this - idiocy (1)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446625)

"if it met the following three conditions: (1) The average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the video or computer game, taken as a whole, appeals to the minor's morbid interest in violence. (2) The game depicts violence in a manner patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community with respect to what is suitable for minors. (3) The game, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors."

So what you are saying is that it will become illegal after it has happened and people reflect on this in court... how can a shop assistant tell if this will be "offencive to the majority"; he might not even have played it... This is the worst kind of law; stupid and applicable all over the place. Does America not have game ratings? here in the UK we have like "18" certificates on some games; if you're not 18 you can't buy it. Then it's a matter of fact.

Re:there's only one word for this - idiocy (1)

Dreamlandlocal (978245) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446835)

Does America not have game ratings? here in the UK we have like "18" certificates on some games; if you're not 18 you can't buy it.

I'm basing this comment entirely on my own observations, but I as far as I've ever seen - and I often make a point of watching the behaviour and purchasing habits of other game store patrons - the rating system has NO impact on what minors are and are not allowed to purchase. On more than one occasion I've seen young teens (around age 13 or 14) purchase a used copy of GTA or something similarly violent (God or War / Onimusha, etc) with no comment from the store clerk.

When it come down to chosing between dollars and doing the right thing, the store employees / owners [troll] as is usually the case in the US[/troll] don't have much trouble chosing the dollars!

Re:there's only one word for this - idiocy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15446945)

Two questions: how are the ratings assigned, and what happens if someone sells an 18-rated game to someone under 18?

Re:there's only one word for this - idiocy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15447052)

We have two ways: The standard games way, which used to use ELSPA ratings but now uses PEGI; and the second way, which is usually only for stuff like GTA and Metal Gear Solid, where the BBFC sticks a red circle with 18/15 on the box. ELPSA/PEGI ratings might not be legally binding but BBFC ones sure as hell are.

So are Tetris, Chess and Checkers banned? (5, Insightful)

HanClinto (621615) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446634)

The game, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors."

So wait, so under these rules, it sounds like Tetris, Chess and Checkers are all illegal to sell directly to minors? Unless you count the gameplay logic involved in Checkers to be "scientific", which is a bit of a stretch of the bill's apparent wording.

Is stuff like this being taken into account I wonder?

--clint

Re:So are Tetris, Chess and Checkers banned? (2, Insightful)

Skreems (598317) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446696)

I think it has to meet all 3 criteria to be inelligable. Which means it's time for someone to release a game that teaches you about politics, science, and art, while at the same time being mind-numbingly gory.

Re:So are Tetris, Chess and Checkers banned? (1)

HanClinto (621615) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446892)

Aaaah, that makes more sense -- thanks!

Re:So are Tetris, Chess and Checkers banned? (4, Funny)

Enry (630) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446978)

So GTA:Washington, DC would be okay so long as you learn how a bill is passed while beating up hookers with a golf club?

Re:So are Tetris, Chess and Checkers banned? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15447217)

Hmm ... I imagine a Civilization 4 mod where combat between units is displayed as a full-screen image, complete with spearmen impaling their foes, axemen and swordsmen decapitating anyone they fight, blood, gore and guts.

Re:So are Tetris, Chess and Checkers banned? (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446968)

There have been plenty of scientific papers published about all 3 of those games, so I think they'd pass the scientific merit test.

And to be clear, the bill ands the 3 conditions, not ors them. So in addition to lacking scientific or artistic merit, it must also have violence beyond community standards, and that part would be pretty hard to argue for any of those 3 games.

Re:So are Tetris, Chess and Checkers banned? (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 8 years ago | (#15447239)

For clarification purposes (follow up to my other post), here is the text of interest from the bill (with emphasis added by me for the key point):

91.14. Prohibited sales of video or computer games to minors
9 A. An interactive video or computer game shall not be sold, leased, or rented
10 to a minor if the trier of fact determines all of the following :
11 (1) The average person, applying contemporary community standards, would
12 find that the video or computer game, taken as a whole, appeals to the minor's
13 morbid interest in violence.
14 (2) The game depicts violence in a manner patently offensive to prevailing
15 standards in the adult community with respect to what is suitable for minors.
16 (3) The game, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or
17 scientific value for minors.

Here is the link if you want to verify it (pdf text of the bill from shreveport times):
http://www.shreveporttimes.com/assets/pdf/D9295955 30.PDF [shreveporttimes.com]

Re:So are Tetris, Chess and Checkers banned? (2, Interesting)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#15447397)

AND() not OR().

Unless chess appeals to ther violent character of kids -- you know, horsies trampling on bishops. Which brings out the fact that chess is part of an attack on Christianity[1]!!one! Ban it!

[1] You do know chess came from Arabia, right? Chess is conclusively a terrorist game, expect to hear all about it on O'Reilly Factor soon.

How about an Anti Needless Legislation bill (4, Funny)

Megaweapon (25185) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446637)

According to MY bill, it would be illegal to pass stupid laws if it met the following three conditions(1) The average person, applying contemporary intelligence standards, would find that the legislation, taken as a whole, appeals to the government's morbid interest in sociatial manipulation. (2) The law depicts intervention in a manner patently offensive to prevailing standards in the liberty-mined community with respect to what is suitable for citizens. (3) The law, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for ANYONE except those in power.

Re:How about an Anti Needless Legislation bill (1)

Woy (606550) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446784)

"The law depicts intervention in a manner patently offensive to prevailing standards in the liberty-mined community (...)"

At first i tought you had mistiped "minded" but then i understood.

Re:How about an Anti Needless Legislation bill (1)

Megaweapon (25185) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446881)

Heh, I mean "minded" but I suppose "mined" works in another sense as well... /excessive coffee typo alert

They should expand this to other media (3, Insightful)

TerenceRSN (938882) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446646)

The game, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.

Now if they could outlaw movies and TV shows for similar reasons we'd get rid of about 90% of the garbage coming out of hollywood these days.

Regarding the law itself, aren't laws required to be unambigious and clear as to what's legal and what isn't? How is a video game store supposed to determine what's acceptable by the adults in the local society?

Re:They should expand this to other media (1)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446936)

Considering the idea of applying community standards to determine what material is indecent was created by the Supreme Court, the answer to your question is probably "no".

Of course, one could argue that the Supreme Court itself is fundamentally wrong when it issues an opinion that the words "no law" in the 1st Amendment don't really mean "no law", but as far as American law is concerned, the Supreme Court is always right by definition, until it says otherwise.

Re:They should expand this to other media (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15447296)

Actually, there's very few requirements about what a law must be. If the law is not valid, the courts will work it out. Unfortunately, it can only be worked out in court (you can't test the constitutionality of a law unless you're charged with an infraction of it).

Re:They should expand this to other media (1)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 8 years ago | (#15447333)

You should really get hired as the lawyer for Planned Parenthood of South Dakota. You're obviously a lot smarter than their lawyers, who seem to disagree with you. Boy will they be embarrassed when the judge, who had you as a law school professor at Harvard, laughs them out of court.

That Law would affect very few games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15446653)

That Law would affect very few games.
GTA, ManHunt, Postal, yes they would be affected, and minors probably should not be buying those games themselves anyways.Then again, minors should not be buying most books by Stephen King.

Other games that are currently M rated such as Halo, The God Father, Cthulu based games, Oblivion and may other would fall outside that law. It would seem to be far more lenient then ESRB.

Priorities (1)

neuroPuff (923273) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446667)

Its beyond me why people are willing to more intensely legislate against games than any other entertainment medium. Jack Thompson is shitting his pants to the idea of children being brainwashed, but is seemingly missing how that most bad behavior has to be more influenced by the parents themselves, the people they live with, rather than a daily hourly (depending on who you are) diversion.

Jack Thompson's efforts sure did pay off. Now let's hope he doesn't shit his pants when a child turns away from his E-rating saturated game library and turns on Scar Face.

Die Fascists! (0)

balance one (871091) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446669)

Viva La Revolution

Is that it? (2, Interesting)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446673)

This is the controversial, censoring, extreme-right-wing menace that had been haunting us?

Sometimes I wonder who has more irrational fear - Jack Thompson or the gamers themselves.

Implied sex? (5, Insightful)

imunfair (877689) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446690)

Personally, I think parents need to stand up and do some actual parenting, but aside from that, this sentence stuck out:

"He also engaged in implied sex with a prostitute in a rocking vehicle before chasing her across a parking lot and beating her to recoup his cash." (Emphasis added)

Since when was implied sex ever an issue? We've had that in movies for what, 70 years now at least? I could see graphic sex, or even just sex being an issue... granted I haven't played the game but that's what the article says...

I think once Jack gets done with this he should go after Britney Spears because of implied sex in her songs. ;P

Re:Implied sex? (2, Funny)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446749)

... Britney Spears ...

EEW man... careful with what you say, I'm eating!

Jack Thompson is proud of you (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446852)

You see a problem with the sex NOT with the violence in beating her up to get the money back?

America, where a titty is taboo but violence is A okay!

Re:Jack Thompson is proud of you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15447294)

Did you not notice the bill ONLY refers to violence?

Re:Implied sex? (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446927)

I think once Jack gets done with this he should go after Britney Spears because of implied sex in her songs. ;P

You think he wouldn't like to? The problem is that the RIAA is well organized and has a lot of money to spend on lawyers. The game industry doesn't have a representative body with comparable resources, so they make an easier target.

come on, it's obvious (5, Insightful)

ArmenTanzarian (210418) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446711)

Clearly, Louisiana has no bigger problem than this.

Legal Madlibs! (1)

Xaositecte (897197) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446720)

Anyone else realize he's just madlibbing violence (and violence-related adjectives) to existing legislation defining pornography and restricting its sale to minors?

I think the goal here for this guy is to get violent Video games cordoned off to an "Adults only" section of gaming stores. It makes a certain amount of sense - I mean, how many people here have pointed out the hypocrisy of allowing graphic decapitation in Games, but absolutely no nudity?

Most people probably wanted to mean that to get rid of censoring nudity, but good Ole' Jack has taken that thinking to his own logical conclusion.

Re:Legal Madlibs! (2, Informative)

Sylver Dragon (445237) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446950)

I had noticed tha Madlib too. While Jack Thompson may be a nanny state tool, he's not really dumb. He's realized two truths in US lawmaking.
1. If at first you don't succeed try, try, try, try, try and try again. Then try some more. Eventually, something will stick.
2. If you're having trouble getting something passed, just parrot existing, accepted legislation.
The only thing we can hope for is that Jack will die of a massive heart attack or some such, before he gets something to stick.

Or... (1)

jizziknight (976750) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446738)

We could just start enforcing the ESRB ratings. If the rating is high enough, require the cashier to verify a state issued ID. Possibly even input the ID number into register, and print it on the reciept, and not proceed with the transaction until one has been entered. Hell, if you wanted to get really crazy, hook it up to the BMV database, and verify that it's a valid ID, and that the age on it is high enough to purchase the game. Do we really need a such a generalized, at-the-mercy-of-the-general(stupid)-public, do-your-parenting-for-you, target-any-specific-game, idiotic law?

Re:Or... (2, Interesting)

HumanisticJones (972339) | more than 8 years ago | (#15447566)

You mean like we had to do when I worked at Circuit City? Every game that came across that counter that was rated M required me seeing some ID. What would have happened if I didn't get that ID and let the game slide back across to a 12 year old? Well it wouldn't be jail time, but I'd have been out of a job on a serious offense. This is an issue for the commercial sector, and it always has been. The game companies rate the games, they've covered their butts. The stores need the responsibility to regulate selling the games to minors. This just takes adding warnings into the product databases of retail chains, it doesn't take a government agency eating up tax dolloars.

Solving the problem. (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446744)

How about we just throw out all the crap and use the current laws instead?

Add in HUGE fines for not sticking to the age ratings and ta dar! All problems solved.

Kids don't get content they shouldn't have, parents become responsible. Everyones happy except people with an axe to grind (Jack), but who gives a fuck about dip shits like that any way?

Re:Solving the problem. (2, Informative)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#15447331)

"How about we just throw out all the crap and use the current laws instead?"

What current laws? Public decency laws? Pornography laws? The ESRB is not law, it's voluntary.

Re:Solving the problem. (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 8 years ago | (#15447459)

There aren't any current laws in Louisiana / the U.S. due to first amendment issues. Such laws have been passed in several states, but all have been struck down as unconstitutional. It is fully expected that even if this law is passed, it will be immediately struck down in court.

The ESRB rating system is just that, a rating system. It describes the content of the games it is applied to, but has no legal or actual bearing on who a given store can or will sell the game to (none of the 3 largest retail game sales stores restricts purchase of any game regardless of rating).

Ummm... (1)

jmhewitt (811760) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446761)

So if this passes, a kid can't play a game simulating a cock fight, but he can go to one?

err (1)

BitterAndDrunk (799378) | more than 8 years ago | (#15447029)

cockfights are illegal.

Re:err (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15447273)

Not in LA.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cock_fight#United_Sta tes [wikipedia.org]

In the United States cockfighting is illegal in Washington, D.C. and all states but: New Mexico and Louisiana.

I never got Jack... (1)

DeeDob (966086) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446783)

"(1) The average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the video or computer game, taken as a whole, appeals to the minor's morbid interest in violence."

- funny, as Jack keeps on going that the ESRB is broken and not working while it's rating system is based solely on the opinions of the general population, or in other words: community standards. It seems he only wants to enforce a system that is his own.

More seriously though,

"(3) The game, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors."

- The problem is: define "lack of literary, artistic, political or scientific value". It seems he only wants educational games for minors because going with that reasoning, we should ban the sale of Tetris to minors since it doesn't have any literary, political or scientific value. The artistic values of "tetris" can also be debated...

As always, Jack is painting with a brush as wide as his ego.

So, with this.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15446805)

(3) The game, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors."

Would that mean games like Pokemon and Mario, which lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value, will be illegal for kids to buy? Will only games written for a classroom be blessed for the consumption of minors? And how will such criteria be judged?

So I have this idea for a game... (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446853)

You get to be one of Jesus' disciples, and you follow him around, and listen to him preach, and then the Romans grab him and nail him to a cross and...

Oh. Never mind.

Re:So I have this idea for a game... (2, Insightful)

Surt (22457) | more than 8 years ago | (#15447494)

In Louisiana, that qualifies as scientific merit, I believe.

What'd you expect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15446858)

It's Jack Thompson and the State of Louisiana - two wrongs don't make a right.

Cowboys and Indians (5, Funny)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446868)

In Thompson's youth, kids didn't play violent games. They just ran around with toy pistols playing cowboys and indians where they pretended to shoot and kill each other. Well, mostly the pretended to exterminate the Indians because everybody rooted for the cowboys to win.

Of course, they were fully clothed and didn't desecrate any all-american baseball bats along the way, so it was all good clean fun.

Intersting wording! (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446898)

The wording on this bill is very interesting:
(1) The average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the video or computer game, taken as a whole, appeals to the minor's morbid interest in violence.
The author of this bill thinks that minors have an intrinsic morbid interest in violence. But non-morbid violence would be okay. Wow.
(2) The game depicts violence in a manner patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community with respect to what is suitable for minors.
I thought the word "patently" was only used by Slashdot trolls who didn't feel like backing up their point. I'm amazed to see it in a law. Eg: "That is patently absurd!" Meaning "that is so absurd I don't even care to justify why it is absurd"
(3) The game, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors."
I didn't know that minors had different standards for literary, artistic, political, and scientific value. I guess that means that only a minor could judge it!

Re:Intersting wording! (1)

Kesch (943326) | more than 8 years ago | (#15447115)

(1) The average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the video or computer game, taken as a whole, appeals to the minor's morbid interest in violence

I don't think this bill will change anything since I, along with most minors, don't have a morbid interest in violence.

I would rather like to think that my interest in violence is more of a primal adrenaline fueled one.

Clearly, this bill is not anti-video game. It's anti-emo.

Re:Intersting wording! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15447569)

...appeals to the minor's morbid interest in violence.

I agree with your assesment. One must ask why do minors have a morbid interest in violence? I would think that would be the problem that should be addressed.

Perhaps its because they realise that government and law enforcement is a total sham and that violence is all they can understand, thus the interest in violence.

I support a law to protect children, BUT (2, Insightful)

Alzheimers (467217) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446906)

...but these "conditions" are the most vague, debatable, and questionable set of standards I've ever seen codified in law.

(1) The average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the video or computer game, taken as a whole, appeals to the minor's morbid interest in violence.

"Average" compared to what? Don't forget that 50% of the population is below average.
"contemporary community standards" in whose community? Do we apply the same community standards of a small town, bible belt parish to a neighboorhood in San Francisco?
"Minor" by age standard, where you can vote or serve in the military but can't buy a beer?
"violence" by whose standard? Is jumping on mushrooms with faces considered a violent act? How about sending 300lb collinding into each other at full speed in an attempt to steal a oblong pigskin?

(2) The game depicts violence in a manner patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community with respect to what is suitable for minors

See: Above

(3) The game, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors."

"Literary, artistic" the cutscenes in GTA are no less well written and directed than scenes from Goodfellas or Boys N Da Hood or Taxi Driver. And yet those films are considered by many to be amongst the pinnacle of modern american cinema. I saw Taxi Driver in a psychology class in High School.

Whose artistic vision are we judging these standards to? One of DaVinci's most famous drawings is of a nude man. It's prominently displayed on the best selling book of the past few years. If a game features the Venus Di Milo, is that inappropriate for children?

"Political" for whose politics? Are we worried about offending children now with images of war, that would make CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC for mature adults only? What about the nightly news? What about images of the 9/11 planes? What about games that question authority? Should the Federalist Papers be considered too mature for school grade reading, for advocating social unrest and revolt against government?

"Scientific" is also questioned when talking about a government that tried to apply that title to Intelligent Design. If the Big Bang is a promient plot element, does that insult to fundamentalism constitute a mature rating?

Re:I support a law to protect children, BUT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15447050)

Don't forget that 50% of the population is below average.

Actually, that's not necessarily true. For example, take these numbers:

1 1 1 1 1 1 100

The average value here is 53; therefore, 6/7 (roughly 86%) of these numbers are below average.

If we assume that every person is unique, it is safe to say that half of the population is below the median, but it is nonetheless not necessarily true that half of them are below average.

Re:I support a law to protect children, BUT (0, Troll)

kthejoker (931838) | more than 8 years ago | (#15447368)

All three of these criteria have a long-standing judicial precedent (see Miller v. California, 1973, and the many cases that led up to it through the 1940s, 50s, and 60s.)

They are extremely well-crafted, in that it is hard to prove something is obscene/overly violent/unacceptable, but if something can be proven to be just that, there is very little wiggle room for appeal.

Your arguments (witless and trollish as they come across) are exactly the same debates that go on when judges try to determine whether something is obscene, offensive, or objectionable in this country already. Within the minutiae of any given subject, arguments can be made that this is of an "artistic value", is not "patently offensive", etc. That's why we have the judicial process.

And PS "community standards" means the community surrounding the point of sale, usually defined as the city, township, or sometimes county depending on the level of incorporation. So, yes, Penthouse can be banned in Knoxville, Tennessee but still be legal in Hartford, Connecticut. But banning it in Knoxville doe snot also ban it in Hartford.

Seriously, could you bother to read even the slightest bit of jurisprudential history before commenting so dumbly on well-written legislative texts?

Easy challenge if it passes (1)

9mm Censor (705379) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446913)

The third critieria is _easy_ to challenge. Games offer excellent artistic merit, just ask the script writers and artists.

Blah (1)

stlhawkeye (868951) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446924)

The first two provisions are fine. The third is a carte blanche to criminalize the sale of any game they want to kids.

Like most other laws... (1)

thebdj (768618) | more than 8 years ago | (#15446933)

this will be defeated quickly in the courts. The problem they have consistently had from state-to-state is that the terms used are vague and do not make it clear what is and is not acceptable. It relies heavily on individual perception of certain games and quite possibly misuses the term "game as a whole", since they are probably saying, if one piece is bad the whole thing is bad and not that if the whole game is okay minus one little piece it is okay.

I love the addition of the artistic value portion though. Isn't this the phrase SCOTUS created or at least used to determine what falls under free speech? Not that it matters, since Bill of Rights says nothing about artistic value being a necessity for free speech. This in itself is also vague as what is deemed to have artistic value changes over time. I guarantee you many of our grandparents and some of our parents probably would not have called rock and roll artistic 50 years or more ago. Why won't anyone create one based on the ESRB and keep it simple? Oh, that is right, they think the ESRB cannot police itself. Newsflash, most the people buying these games for the kids are the parents...

Re:Like most other laws... (1)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 8 years ago | (#15447531)

"Most laws" are quickly defeated by the courts? Are you delusional, or posting from an alternate universe?

Artistic Value? (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 8 years ago | (#15447055)

The 3rd would be met on most games, who can judge the artistic nature of a video game? What defines art? Does art inspire? If a requirement for art the it inspire thought or inspires one to be creative, than video games would certainly fall into that category. How many people are working in gaming to due to that one defining moment in some game they were playing that inspired them to learn and become a developer?

The problem in games today, to use cliche is not life imitating art but art imitating life.

How about this? (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 8 years ago | (#15447091)

"Be it resolved that the legislature of the state of INSERT_STATE shall impose a fine on any vendor equal to twice the sale price of any game rated to be mature or adults only by a recognized authority within the video gaming industry for the offense of selling a game of this rating to a minor not accompanied by his or her legal guardian. In the event that the rating system should change, the rating authority shall be obliged to inform the attorney general whereby the attorney general shall take all necessary means to amend public policy to reflect the rating change. Legal guardians shall waive all right of litigation regarding the content of a game that is purchased in their presence except where the rating may have been issued due to fraudulent information delivered to the rating authority. Community decency standards shall not apply to the sale or rental of any video game, however such standards may be applied to any game rated mature (or equivalent) or higher when a public demonstration is performed."

Run for the hills! We might have to take responsibility!

How to get around this (4, Funny)

Skevin (16048) | more than 8 years ago | (#15447216)

> (3) The game, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors

We can make GTA an educational game... like "Grand Theft Auto: Reader Rabbit".

Literary Value
Da Brute: "Lo, like two fucking ships passing in the night. Who the hell are you?"
Stranger: "Call me Ishmael."
Da Brute: "You sent me to hell and back, mofo. What a tangled fucking web you weave."
Stranger: "Sammy paid me to screw you over, man! It was the best of times, and it was the worst of times!"
Da Brute: "Fine, then I shall strike you down with great vengeance!"
Stranger: "Et tu, Brute?"
*blam* *blam*

Artistic Value
Unscrupulous Collector: "Dude, here's the dig. You hijack the shipment and kill every motherfucker who gets in your way. Take all the Renoirs and the Monets, but burn all the Warhols - we don't need dat shit pollutin' our 'hood."
Mission: Steal all Renoir and Monet paintings from the convoy. Destroy any Andy Warhol artwork with your weapons. Use your real-life art sense to determine which painting is which.

Scientific Value
Big Don: "Alright, gangsta, heads up. We got a perfectly spherical mortar shell 12 centimeters in diameter that weigh 2500 grams, but our freaking mortar only delivers exactly 8000 square foot pounds of force-... No, I don't have a fucking conversion table between metric and english, you look that up yourself! Anyway, the rat we gotta nail is parked in between those two buildings 30 furlongs away, where the air pressure is 13.2 PSI instead of usual atmospheric constant 14.7, you got that? Anyway, he'll be there for only ten minutes, which gives you enough time to come up with a Second Order Linear Partial Differential Equation accounting for air resistance. Hey, mofo, if you miss this shot, we gonna shoot yo homies, cut up yo family, and rape yo gerbil."
Mission: Hit the car with the perfectly spherical mortar shell. You have one shot.

Solomon

what did kids do before games/tv? (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15447319)

My dad got his first rifle at age 10. Had his first smoke then, too. This was typical for kids in his neighborhood, which was a suburb, not the ghetto. That's what kids were up to before tv and video games, so obviously stopping games so we can get back to owning real rifles and smoking is a priority!

And then the lawyers argued (1)

nEoN nOoDlE (27594) | more than 8 years ago | (#15447350)

Eh, this bill seems so vague that the only good it will do is give lawyers jobs for years debating what constitutes "morbid interest in violence" or what is "literary, political, artistic or scientific value" which is probably the point altogether.

Anyway, if this bill passes, will it force developers to get creative with games? Eh, probably not, they'll just hire more lawyers to oppose it while making the same stuff. It's kind of a shame. I think some of the best art is created when artists are pressured with social or political censorship, and games might need that in order to get out of their sequel slump.

Re:And then the lawyers argued (1)

mmalove (919245) | more than 8 years ago | (#15447553)

Exactly. Jack Thompson is a lawyer. Thus the exceptionally vague law will provide him years of work in his favorite subject area. Fucking Brilliant.

On another note, how's that GTA clone coming along featuring Jack Thompson as the main character? We need to add some literary, scientific, and artistic fluff a la Da Vinci Code, so we can sell it to the kids.

Just makes me want to (1)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 8 years ago | (#15447447)

repeatedly hit the asshole in the head with a huge purple dildo [imageshack.us] .

This is ridiculous, why use language like "average person" "contemporary community standards" "morbid interest in violence" to define what is against the law? Oh wait, I know, so that they can ban as many games (and fine as many people) as possible, without setting any standards beforehand. A "good" law would just enforce the official ratings. And by "good" I mean "also unacceptable".

The 3rd Clause (2, Insightful)

Dr_LHA (30754) | more than 8 years ago | (#15447484)

The 3rd clause could basically be used to ban all sales of video games to minors, allowing only purchasing of educational software. After all "New Super Mario Bros" "...lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors...", but its still a fun and harmlessly innocent game that is perfect for all ages, which in no way should be banned.

A question is, can one make a law based on the nebulous idea of what people find moral, rather than defining a moral code in the bill. Personally I think not, and as such the law will either not pass or be swiftly struck down.

It will all pass as soon as... (1)

nappingcracker (700750) | more than 8 years ago | (#15447512)

They target Halo and Microsoft send in the lawyer for some team slayer.

Subjective standards? (1)

null etc. (524767) | more than 8 years ago | (#15447535)

Seems like many of these criteria are subjective. How is "community" defined? Is it fine to sell 50 Cent shoot-em up video games to minors in the ghettos, but not in upscale suburbia? How is "adult population" defined? A majority of 50% or more? To be determined by an independent poll?

There's lots of room for this to go wrong, as usual.

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