Richard Blumenthal Grandstands Over Violent Video Game Ban, While Publicly Displaying Ignorance Of Facts

from the your-next-senator? dept

We've seen all sorts of grandstanding state attorneys general seeking higher office, but Connecticut's Richard Blumenthal (running for the Senate) seems to work hard, not just at picking up on ridiculous anti-technology and anti-innovation topics to grandstand over, but he seems to do so with amazing cluelessness both about the law and whatever it is he's talking about. His latest is that he's filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in the case about California's failed attempt to ban the sale of violent video games. As noted, more than 10 states have enacted such laws, and every single one of them has been struck down. You might think that an attorney general in charge of upholding the law would recognize that.

But, as Ben Kuchera at Ars Technica notes, Blumenthal seems to have announced this particular grandstanding campaign with a rather stunning number of factual errors that demonstrate an immense level of ignorance about what he's sounding off about.
Blumenthal also seems sadly ignorant of the state of video games and retail. "In the face of continued industry inaction--enabling unattended children to buy such games--states must preserve their critical right to protect children," he stated.

The problem with Blumenthal's argument is that the industry has not been in a state of inaction, as the ESRB has long assigned ratings to games, giving an accurate idea of the content included in them, and has made serious efforts when it comes to community and parental outreach to make sure the ratings are both understood and used. Chains such as GameStop and even Walmart actively check the ID of customers buying M-rated games.
Then there's the claim that video games should "follow the leadership of the motion picture industry" in its system to prevent children from viewing certain content. What he seems to be missing is that video games already have a very similar system, and have for years, and, in some ways, it's even more restrictive than the movie industry's.

And, of course, none of this notes that the research seems to show that violent video games aren't actually harmful to kids after all. But, you know, when you have a Senate campaign to run, "think of the children" just plays so well with the ignorant masses...


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 22nd, 2010 @ 7:46am

    Not harmful? Please...

    "And, of course, none of this notes that the research seems to show that violent video games aren't actually harmful to kids after all."

    Yeah, right, not harmful. Tell that to the twelve baby turtles I stomped on after buying a pair of red overalls and growing a mustache. You should have seen the carnage, it was truly amazing. And when they hauled me away in handcuffs, the only thing I could manage to scream was, "Where the fuck is my goddamn princess? And don't tell me she's in another freaking castle!"

    Sigh, memories....

     

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  2.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jul 22nd, 2010 @ 7:57am

    "Then there's the claim that video games should "follow the leadership of the motion picture industry" in its system to prevent children from viewing certain content."

    I wonder what, exactly, the movie industry is doing in this field that's not already being surpassed by the game industry (e.g. parental controls on consoles that allow ratings to be enforced when unattended rather than being merely advisory).

    I also wonder if he realises how laughably easy it is for knowledgeable children to bypass controls on movies. Not to mention that if there is a problem with children obtaining unsuitable games, it's usually parental ignorance or apathy at fault, not anything related to the industry itself (see: the parents "shocked" that an M-rated game called Grand Theft Auto contained adult material when quizzed during the Hot Coffee idiocy).

     

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  3.  
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    Moo^2, Jul 22nd, 2010 @ 7:58am

    I like the ESRB, I might not agree with them all the time. but I like the fact that they give examples of the reason why they give these ratings. that is something the MPAA never really does, if anything movieratings should aspire to be more like gameratings and not the other way around. The ESRB has at least some accountability, the MPAA does not.

    ...and neither does PEGI (EU ESRB), they act similar to the MPAA.

     

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  4.  
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    interval (profile), Jul 22nd, 2010 @ 8:02am

    I am Jack's complete lack of surprise.

     

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  5.  
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    DH's Love Child, Jul 22nd, 2010 @ 8:05am

    Re: Not harmful? Please...

    BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

    you owe me a new monitor as I just doused mine in soda. Man that shit tickles when it comes out your nose...

     

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  6.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), Jul 22nd, 2010 @ 8:05am

    Parents

    Most PC and game consoles do have a parental control mechanism. The problem is that the kids won't show their parents how to use it.

     

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  7.  
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    Free Capitalist (profile), Jul 22nd, 2010 @ 8:08am

    Let's solve this quickly

    Put all new born children into non-organic government-run poultry farms. Their 2x2 cages will keep them safe and the "uppity" ones can be used to convert to bio-fuel. It's the only way to be sure.

    Maybe then the PTA will STFU and stop using government bandwidth.

     

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  8.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 22nd, 2010 @ 8:08am

    Re: Re: Not harmful? Please...

    When you get older, you'll get a dark helmet of your own. They come with a full holographic HUD display on the visor. No monitor needed. Just watch out for those camera closeups....

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2010 @ 8:10am

    Re: Parents

    Its funny, our rights are limited in so many ways, yet anyone can be a parent. Its a vicious cycle, more idiot parents, more laws to protect us from ourselves. I'm not saying we should limit who should be a parent, just find it interesting how that works.

     

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  10.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jul 22nd, 2010 @ 8:10am

    Re: Not harmful? Please...

    Heh, reminds me of the old joke that went along the lines of:

    "If Pac-Man had affected us as kids, we'd all be running around in dark rooms, munching pills and listening to repetitive electronic music... hey, wait a second!"

     

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  11.  
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    ailuros, Jul 22nd, 2010 @ 8:14am

    Re: Not harmful? Please...

    dear Dark Helmet: i love you. -APJ

     

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  12.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 22nd, 2010 @ 8:17am

    Re: Re: Not harmful? Please...

    Only because you think I was kidding....

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2010 @ 8:36am

    First off of course it's crap what he's spouting but I think a lot of people are missing why he is doing this. I did a quick search on the guy and found that he is running against Linda McMahon. It's more part of his whole "I'm a pro-family guy" versus her PR campaign. McMahon is former ceo of wwe. Of course this proves he is just about getting elected at any cost versus actually believing the crap he spouts.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2010 @ 8:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Not harmful? Please...

    I hope you never tried to run with your underwear around like when you get hit in Ghouls 'n Ghosts.

     

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  15.  
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    Overcast (profile), Jul 22nd, 2010 @ 9:25am

    Then there's the claim that video games should "follow the leadership of the motion picture industry" in its system to prevent children from viewing certain content

    ROFLMFAO!!!

    Yeah, make games more like movies...
    They aren't quite as violent as stuff like SAW.

    I bet no kid has ever seen that..... yeah, right.

    What a laugh - the guy is clueless.

     

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  16.  
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    DCX2, Jul 22nd, 2010 @ 10:19am

    Movies vs. Games

    Isn't it easier for a minor to get into an R-rated movie than to buy an M-rated game?

    Also note that Blumental was using wildly exaggerated examples of games that aren't even sold in the US.

    Also note that he tried to say that the video game industry finally started issuing ratings after his "repeated demands". Odd, considering ESRB has been using rates for over 15 years...

     

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  17.  
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    P3T3R5ON (profile), Jul 22nd, 2010 @ 10:37am

    And they wonder why

    Politicians have always wondered why they are so hated whenever they open their mouths.... I wonder why....

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2010 @ 10:38am

    Then people complain when other people call politicians morons.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2010 @ 10:41am

    Re: Movies vs. Games

    "Isn't it easier for a minor to get into an R-rated movie than to buy an M-rated game?"

    Yep. And far cheaper... which makes it even easier. Seriously I couldn't afford videogames on my own until I started working. Until then, I had no choice whatsoever but to rely on my mom to buy my games. So how are all these minors buying these "harmful" videogames being financed? And how is it possible that a minor can play a violent videogame without being seen by an adult? Anyway you look at things... at every single turn... a parent is ALREADY involved. If minors are playing violent videogames, it's because their parents allow it, end of story.

     

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  20.  
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    CommonSense (profile), Jul 22nd, 2010 @ 1:01pm

    Embarrassed

    Blumenthal is a disgrace. As a CT resident, I've even emailed him in the past about his grandstanding against Craigslist, and asked him to please stop wasting my tax money on stupid political stunts. His response basically said "What I've done has worked, thanks for your concern, I'll keep up the good work. Thank you."

    I'm DEFINITELY not voting his way...

     

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  21.  
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    Bradley Stewart, Jul 22nd, 2010 @ 1:47pm

    Oh For Crying Out Loud

    An open letter to Richard Blumenthal. Richard they are games! There are so many people in Washington DC already who make careers out of pandering this won't even get you noticed.Try doing something novel for a change. Here is an idea. Try doing somethings for people who need real help and get them done. Hope I was able to help.

     

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  22.  
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    faceless (profile), Jul 23rd, 2010 @ 11:23am

    Violent videogames ar the hardest thing to buy.

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-13772_3-9939246-52.html

    A FTC study from 2008 showed that M rated Video Games are harder for underage consumers to buy than R rated and Unrated DVD's, R rated Movie Tickets and Explicit Music CD's.

    This doesn't even take into account that all current videogame systems (Xbox 360, Wii, PS3) and every handheld (DSi, PSP) except the original DS also have parenal controls that can block the playing of games based on the game's rating.

    The 360 and PS3 also allow parents to block communication such as voice chat on child accounts, and the Wii has a friends code system where you have to exchange friends codes to be able to communicate.

     

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  23.  
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    Blue Jay, Jul 25th, 2010 @ 5:28pm

    Political stupidity as usual

    "In the face of continued industry inaction--enabling unattended children to buy such games--states must preserve their critical right to protect children," he stated.

    Why is it the states' job to "protect children"? And "protect" them from what? Show me one credible study that shows "children" (an ambiguous term that really needs to be challenged) are in some sort of mortal peril if they see violence/sex/etc. Most studies I've found regarding these issues shows "protection" causes more harm than good. And on top of that it makes excuses for lazy parents who don't want to take responsibility for their lives.
    It's also insulting to the "children" to suggest they are incapable of rational thought or distinguishing reality from fantasy. I've met plenty of mature (and immature) kids and adolescents throughout my life. When I was young my friends and I played rough outside and also played the early gore-fests like Doom and Quake. Those things helped relieve stress and provided enjoyment to us for hours on end. Did any of us turn into violent psychopaths, rapists or worse? No. Quite the opposite.
    In my experience before becoming of legal age, it was hard to buy games with an "M" rating. My parents usually ended up buying them for me since they knew I was a responsible and mature person. Why any new legislation is "needed" is beyond me.

    This really should boil down to parents deciding if their kids are mature and responsible enough to play more mature games, but our current nanny-state society is bulging with stupidity out the ears. Pathetic, really.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    farley, Aug 4th, 2010 @ 2:51pm

    Google will soon be ancient history after 38 states take Google to task for deliberately stealing private information from hundreds of millions of unsuspecting people. Google is nothing but a hard-core criminal founded by an idiot savant, Sergey Brin. Yes, Sergey Brin is a certified idiot savant who can do complex math in his head, but is certifiably retarded as far as his I.Q. goes. Sergey Brin is an evil scumbag who founded the most evil company on earth, Google. Sergey will do some serious jail time and so will his partner in crime, Larry Paige.

     

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


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