Senator Introduces Unconstitutional Bill To Ban Sale Of Certain Video Games To Minors

from the apparently-wants-to-challenge-the-constitution dept

We were just talking about how New York State was about to become the latest in a long line of states to waste taxpayer money fighting for an unconstitutional law requiring video games to be labeled and also banning the sale of certain video games to children. Nearly a dozen states have tried to introduce similar legislation, and every time they've been rejected by courts as unconstitutional. Every time. There is simply no excuse for politicians to introduce another one of these laws. The courts have been clear that those laws aren't just unconstitutional, but can even be harmful to children.

Now we've got the federal government getting in on the game as well. I was just looking over some of the latest bills introduced in Congress via the always excellent Washington Watch and what do I see, but a newly introduced bill in the Senate that would require "age-based content rating labels" and ban the sale or rental of games with adult content to minors. Of course, video games are already rated via a voluntary rating system (same as movies), and most video game stores already ban the sale of such games to kids. Plus, oh yeah, there's that whole First Amendment issue.

So, what, exactly does Sen. Roger Wicker hope to accomplish in introducing such a bill, other than to potentially waste taxpayer money in a lawsuit that will clearly be lost?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Pookie Handsome, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 11:34am

    More accomplishments of...

    ...political granstanding from America's 9% approval-rated leadership.

    Yah. Shall we throw them a party with cake?

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Mike C., Jul 25th, 2008 @ 11:44am

    Constitutionality aside - where's parental responsibility?

    I have two young boys and both clamor for the latest smash-em-up games that "all their friends are playing". If I think they can handle it, I buy it for them. If not, I don't and explain to them why they're not getting it. I want it to be MY choice, not the governments, not the uncaring clerk behind the counter (I've been one - I should know) and certainly not some nameless and faceless rating organization whose standards I probably won't subscribe to.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    wasnt me, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 11:45am

    i don't see how rating games by age groups any different from rating movies?

    why are some movies rated G, PG13 or NC17 (i think thats what they are called in the US) any different from those laws about games?

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Kjell Andorsen, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 11:50am

    Re:

    The thing is that the Movie rating system in the US is VOLUNTARY, it is not Law. Currently the Video Game industry (again in the US) has the same kind of system. They already have a voluntary rating system. There is no need for a Law to regulate this and numerous courts have already said that such laws are unconstitutional. Yet politicians seem determined to ignore these facts so that they can pretend they're doing something to "Protect the children" when all they're really doing is protecting their own re-election.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Chris, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 11:53am

    Re:

    The movie ratings are not put in place by law, the movie industry chose to make them on their own as a guide. There is no legal enforcement behind them.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    wasnt me, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 11:56am

    Re: Re:

    thx for clarification, I always thought it was the MPAA that decided on the rating of the movie, cause i remember certain movies having to edit out certain scenes in order to escape the often dreaded NC17 rating.

    anyways i believe thats its the parents responsibility as Mike C already mentioned.

     

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  7.  
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    Stew, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 11:58am

    Re:

    "i don't see how rating games by age groups any different from rating movies?

    why are some movies rated G, PG13 or NC17 (i think thats what they are called in the US) any different from those laws about games?"

    Movies in the US are given those ratings on a voluntary basis by the MPAA. Not by any government agency or government-mandated agency. There is no legal requirement for any movie to be rated.

    In Canada there are boards in individual provinces that are responsible for rating movies. In most other countries there is a national board that does the same thing.

    So to answer your question: Movie ratings are not governed or required by federal or state laws in the US.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Chris, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 12:02pm

    Who Cares?

    Since when does the constitution matter? Congress and the President have always done what they want with little to no oversite from the Supreme Court or the American public.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Stew, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 12:05pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "I always thought it was the MPAA that decided on the rating of the movie, cause i remember certain movies having to edit out certain scenes in order to escape the often dreaded NC17 rating."
    You're correct on that but possibly unaware that the MPAA is not a government-mandated organization. Organizations like the AMA (American Medical Association), etc. are independent of the government, but they get their power through laws giving them that power by various governments. So they are government-mandated and their decisions have the force of law.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Stuck inside the memphis blues, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 12:10pm

    WTF

    Selling cigarette to minors is wrong, but allowing them to play gruesome games is okay??

    You can put the responsibility of making-children-not-smoke-cigars also on parents, right?

    US is a strange country. Government has no powers, but still is powerful. Give up some of your "freedom" for good! (like bearing arms etc)

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    GLaDOS, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 12:11pm

    Re: More accomplishments of...

    The cake is a lie.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    wasnt me, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 12:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    so how is it different.

    you have a 3rd party deciding that x person is too young to watch the movie or play the game.

    in any case if parents this that there children can play the game they go to the shop and buy it, same as movies although you could still be intercepted at the door.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    snowburn14, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 12:27pm

    Re: Constitutionality aside - where's parental responsibility?

    "I want it to be MY choice, not the governments, not the uncaring clerk behind the counter (I've been one - I should know) and certainly not some nameless and faceless rating organization whose standards I probably won't subscribe to."

    OK. So how is a law preventing your children from bypassing you and buying it themselves a problem? Granted, some of them want to ban the sale of unrated games entirely, which is silly, but banning their sale to children makes sense to me. Same for the ones that are actually rated for adults (or "Mature" or whatever) of course.
    If they're making it a crime for the parents to buy such games for their children, I'd say that's going too far. But I just don't see the problem in trying to prevent children from buying games with content their parents might object to, without going through them...

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 12:32pm

    It's obvious

    "So, what, exactly does Sen. Roger Wicker hope to accomplish in introducing such a bill, other than to potentially waste taxpayer money in a lawsuit that will clearly be lost?"

    He hopes to accomplish re-election. By the time this law is challenged and dismissed as unconstitutional, he'll have accomplished his primary purpose. The ultimate disposition of the law is beside the point.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 12:36pm

    Re: Re: Constitutionality aside - where's parental responsibility?

    what's next then, preventing children from buying science books because you don't want them to learn about evolution (or a bible on the other side of things)

    Where does it end?

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 12:38pm

    Re: Re: Constitutionality aside - where's parental responsibility?

    The question i would ask you then, is why bother with the Law? Its unconstitutional, and its already being done with out the government for the most part. Use you head for something other than holding your hair in place, if the big G government decides to pass a law and all the rest, all it will do is waste money, and the kids can still go behind the laws back (get older friends to buy for example... you can not legislate out all "what if" and one time happenings...

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    DanC, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 12:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    you have a 3rd party deciding that x person is too young to watch the movie or play the game.

    With the present system, the ratings are merely recommendations, not absolutes.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Palmyra, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 12:59pm

    Senator Roger Wicker Republican - Mississippi

    Well let's see now , Wicker was appointed Wicker in December 2007 to fill the Senate seat vacated by Trent Lott after Lott's white sheet slipped out of the closet.

    OK, Wicker wants to stop kids from getting violent games. But why should he stop there. Let him introduce a bill to stop anyone under 18 from shooting a real gun. That would go over real well in Mississippi.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Its not Me, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 1:05pm

    Movies have sales restrictions

    But movies do not allow people under 17 in to an R rated movie w/o an adult. And dolt let people under 17 or 18 in to any NC-17. The same rules apply to sales of the DVD's, no?

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 1:06pm

    A suggestion

    Just introduce a bill making everyone a minor until they are the tender age of 57 (The age of Roger Wickler.) After all, he's the only sane one in the room who knows what's right.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    steve Jones, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 1:17pm

    Ok, I think it's sad a bunch of 12 year olds can't buy a video game about killing someone with a plastic bag, or that the whole point of the game is to steal shit, murder and rape people. But, it really seems to me these courts are over stating their bounds and trying to write law on their own. The constitution in no way grants minors rights, if it did partial birth abortion would be illegal, and the doctors performing them would be in prison.

    Saying that keeping minors from buying these games is harming them, is just plain stupid.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 2:02pm

    THIS IS AN MPAA CONSPIRACY

    It has to be. We suspect they have their claws on some of our leaders. Video games are starting to be a threat to them. People are staying home on release nights to play new video games instead of watch movies.

    Notice that they aren't making it illegal to take your child into a R rated movie (I've seen this done far too often; bad parenting). Only the one industry...

    *Gets tin foil hat*

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    DanC, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 2:14pm

    Re:

    it really seems to me these courts are over stating their bounds and trying to write law on their own. The constitution in no way grants minors rights,

    The laws that keep getting overturned on constitutional grounds attempt to allow the government to decide what is and what is not appropriate for children, instead of letting parents decide.

    Saying that keeping minors from buying these games is harming them, is just plain stupid.

    Attempting to shelter kids from violence until they're 18 is unrealistic and dangerous.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Eric, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 3:58pm

    Where's Mom and or Dad?

    The government needs to stay out of children's lives. Responsible and attentive parenting is the answer. And don't bother replying to this with: "what about parents who aren't responsible huh?" We all know that a majority of parents do monitor what their kids are doing and there are always going to be irresponsible people out there. There's nothing to be done for it. Anyway, there's certainly been enough media coverage over the years to clue people as to what's too violent for kids and what's not. Let the parents decide, not the Man.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Overcast, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 4:01pm

    Since when does the constitution matter? Congress and the President have always done what they want with little to no oversite from the Supreme Court or the American public.

    Yep, quite true. Sadly enough

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Patrick, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 4:02pm

    Re:

    "i don't see how rating games by age groups any different from rating movies?
    why are some movies rated G, PG13 or NC17 (i think thats what they are called in the US) any different from those laws about games?"

    Those rating generally aren't required by law, they're completely voluntary.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Eric, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 4:04pm

    Re: Constitutionality aside - where's parental responsibility?

    Well said. It's the parents who should decide. Not the Man.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Eric, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 4:07pm

    Re:

    This country needs an enema.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2008 @ 5:17pm

    I have the misfortune to be from Mississippi, and I hope that this idiot loses when he comes up for election this year.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2008 @ 9:35am

    I'm all for the bill or any similar bill - obviously parents today are too stupid and/or not involved in their child's life that it is indeed up to the govt to protect them.

    If parents actually did their job - you know, like PARENT - the govt and these brain dead politicians wouldnt have to worry about stupid bills.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2008 @ 7:27pm

    If you think the stupidity is flying high here in the US, check out this TV Q&A with Aussie officials. for the unitiated, most violent videogames are outright banned in Australia. For kids, for adults, for everyone. If you have blood pressure issues you may want to stay away from this:

    http://www.kotaku.com.au/games/2008/07/watch_how_misinformed_australia_is_about_video_games .html

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Bryan, Oct 18th, 2009 @ 10:45am

    Re: Who Cares?

    Then you obviously have no conception of how the U.S. Government works. The American public votes representatives to REPRESENT their views and stances on issues, so yes that is the American public. Also, every bill is reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court before it is passed.

     

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