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Yet Another Attempt To Place Warning Labels On Video Games Based On Zero Evidence

from the third-time,-still-charmless dept

Last year, we reported on the bill presented by Representatives Joe Baca and Frank Wolf that would require video games in the U.S. to carry a vague (and untrue) warning about their link to violence. At the time, the proposed message was:

WARNING: Excessive exposure to violent video games and other violent media has been linked to aggressive behavior

That bill (which had actually failed once before, in 2009) died in committee. Well, it looks like Baca and Wolf are at it again—and not only are they continuing the crusade, they're upping the ante. Whereas the previous bill would have applied to games rated T (Teen) or higher, the newly proposed Violence In Video Games Labeling Act (pdf and embedded below) would apply to games rated E (Everyone) and up, meaning all video games except those rated EC for early childhood. Even more galling, they've modified the mandatory warning, which now reads:

WARNING: Exposure to violent video games has been linked to aggressive behavior.

Note the removal of both the "excessive" qualifier and the mention of "other violent media", making this new warning even more ridiculous than the previous one. As multiple studies have pointed out, the link between video games and violence is flimsy at best. The Supreme Court also rejected the key study claiming a link exists when they ruled California's anti-violent video game law to be unconstitutional. With all that, you'd think Baca and Wolf would know better than to fight for these warning labels yet again—let alone to ask for a warning that's even broader and less accurate, and which would be placed on countless video games that don't even contain any violence. Hopefully congress will recognize this, and prevent Baca and Wolf's petty, baseless moralizing from placing a needless restriction on free speech.



Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    identicon
    fb39ca4, Mar 21st, 2012 @ 10:03am

    It's like the labels on non-RBST milk that Monsanto lobbied for, which nobody gives a shit about.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2012 @ 10:03am

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2012 @ 10:08am

    But without the warning parents would actually have to pay attention to the game content, instead of just looking at a blanket statement.

    They might as well tag schools as follows:

    "Going to school is linked to bullying"

    So yes there may be an odd ball or two who is already violent and plays violent games and then do something violent, but that doesn't mean anything

     

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  4.  
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    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), Mar 21st, 2012 @ 10:09am

    WARNING: Exposure to life has been linked with death.

     

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  5.  
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    A Guy (profile), Mar 21st, 2012 @ 10:11am

    New Warning Label on all Congressional Actions

    Warning: Exposure to Congress has been linked to insanity and poor economic conditions.

     

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  6.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Mar 21st, 2012 @ 10:12am

    The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

    It appears they dont want to hear from you unless you can vote for them (typical):
    https://bacaforms.house.gov/contact-form
    https://wolfforms.house.gov/index.cfm?sectioni d=383
    Regrettably, I am unable to reply to any email from individuals residing outside of my congressional district.

     

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  7.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Mar 21st, 2012 @ 10:22am

    Re: For Keeps

    Well, that's a keeper.

    Thanks!

     

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  8.  
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    Lord Binky, Mar 21st, 2012 @ 10:24am

    Funny how the aggressive behavior it is linked to is... temporary. I am sure the exact same statement could be said for many things, such as caffeine, and idiot politicians that waste our time.

     

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  9.  
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    Skeptical Cynic (profile), Mar 21st, 2012 @ 10:26am

    Please start including party labels. (R) (D)

    I lean more towards the right than I do the left and I am a lot more libertarian than either. We need to know what party is intruding in our lives. FYI the bill's sponsors are left (Joe Baca) and right (Frank Wolf). Which just show both sides are equally stupid.

     

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  10.  
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    Lord binky, Mar 21st, 2012 @ 10:28am

    Re:

    My favorite qoute that sums the whole thing up quite nicely. I pulled from an article over the topic on arstechnica which was pulled from reuters,

    "Violent video games are like peanut butter," said Texas A&M University's Christopher J. Ferguson told Reuters when that study was published. "They are harmless for the vast majority of kids but are harmful to a small minority with pre-existing personality or mental health problems."

     

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  11.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Mar 21st, 2012 @ 10:29am

    Re: Please start including party labels. (R) (D)

    There's no need to be left or right; just get yourself some good supportive undergarments and be comfortable.

     

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  12.  
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    btr1701, Mar 21st, 2012 @ 10:33am

    Ratings

    > they're upping the ante. Whereas the previous
    > bill would have applied to games rated T (Teen)
    > or higher, the newly proposed Violence In Video
    > Games Labeling Act would apply to games rated E
    > (Everyone) and up

    What if the game is unrated? Since the video game rating system-- like the movie rating system-- is voluntary, even if this law were to pass, couldn't manufacturers avoid all this by just not rating their games?

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2012 @ 10:34am

    Logical Solution...

    Can't we get rid of these ridiculous sorts of warning labels (not just on video games but on all products) using false advertising laws. I mean to directly claim a linkage HAS BEEN MADE should automatically require that you produce evidence to support that the linkage has actually been made otherwise the claim is patently a lie even if the linkage actually exists. Claims like "studies show..." when no studies have actually been done is a false advertising even if the claim made by the alleged study happens to be true. Right?

     

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  14.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Mar 21st, 2012 @ 10:38am

    Re: Logical Solution...

    Lawmakers: Truth? Evidence? We don't need no stinkin truth-evidence!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2012 @ 10:39am

    And yet another attempt for you to write something that people actually give a shit about. FAIL

     

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  16.  
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    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), Mar 21st, 2012 @ 10:42am

    I'm fine with this.

    They can slap this warning label on games as long as they promise to slap a similar one on all major religious texts, most of which will have at least a couple thousand years of correlation to support the statement.

     

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  17.  
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    [citation needed or GTFO], Mar 21st, 2012 @ 10:42am

    Video games cause violence?

    Geez, it's like Jack Thompson all over again...

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2012 @ 10:43am

    Re: Logical Solution...

    Wait...you mean that the general public would have to learn what terms like correlated or statistical association mean? or better yet what the conditions of causality are?

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2012 @ 10:44am

    Re: Logical Solution...

    And I realize that the labels in some cases (like on tobacco products for instance) are required by law so these are not technically claims being made by the companies but rather by the government instead which actually is WORSE because as the government is the overseeing authority here they should be held to a HIGHER STANDARD than those they are in charge of regulating. In effect forcing a company to include a government mandated label claiming that there is conclusive evidence from actual studies to show a linkage between a property of a product and a said undesirable effect when in effect there is no such evidence is tantamount to forcing the company to BREAK ANOTHER EXISTING LAW, thereby creating a catch-22 situation which is not permitted within the law. Lawyers in the room, am I correct here in my legal thought process?

     

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  20.  
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    Mr. Oizo, Mar 21st, 2012 @ 10:47am

    Re:

    True, but is a form of brainwashing. Within 10 years people will be guilty of violent crimes if they -god forbid- have a violent game at home.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2012 @ 10:49am

    Re: Logical Solution...

    Forcing them to include a message in their packaging that is patently false (ie. Studies with evidence to support a claim have been done when no studies exist or no evidence in support exists) is forcing them to lie on the packaging theirby committing a misrepresentation that basically constitutes fraud.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2012 @ 10:49am

    Re: Re: Please start including party labels. (R) (D)

    psh. Boxers and free swinging ftw

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2012 @ 10:51am

    Re: I'm fine with this.

    While we're at it, let's make sure that the label also is put on sports equipment...

    Now, what else should be on the list?

     

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  24.  
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    Ed Allen, Mar 21st, 2012 @ 10:56am

    This is crying "Wolf!" once more.

    And we know how quickly a lot of false warnings raise the noise level enough to get most warnings about everything ignored.

    If the Government had something important to say it would be buried beneath crap like this.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2012 @ 11:01am

    Re: Re: Logical Solution...

    It doesn't claim any evidence. It just says linked. This is true. The statement put on the package because of the bill links them. You can also link religion and gay marriage, police and violence marriage and divorce (100% of divorced people have been married). Linking is totally meaningless.

     

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  26.  
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    Torg (profile), Mar 21st, 2012 @ 11:05am

    E-rated games can be more subversive than most give them credit for. Viva Pinata, for example, encourages children to beat pinatas until they break by showing candy coming out of the dead pinatas. Clearly we need to limit exposure to such violent imagery.

     

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  27.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Mar 21st, 2012 @ 11:09am

    Re: Ratings

    Then the games would never get into stores. =/

     

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  28.  
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    Grover (profile), Mar 21st, 2012 @ 11:15am

    This has nothing to do with 'protecting children'

    This has everything to do with grandstanding and simply having nothing better to do but kowtow to industry. These people do not care about anything, or anybody - especially children; they're here to satisfy their own political agenda. Those who are pushing this from behind the veneer of political discourse are simply trying to gain more credibility in their industry. Think about it: if you, as an industry shill or insider, can pass this, then it would give you immense credibility as being someone to reckon with, and at the same time allow you to be 'compensated' generously.

    These are people who are trying to justify their existence, period.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymoose Custard (profile), Mar 21st, 2012 @ 11:25am

    Well, it's an accurate label.

    It amuses me that they were careful to use the word "linked."

    Indeed, we've seen a lot of studies that show a link between video games and violence, but we've also seen that there's an significant lack of studies that show that violent video games can cause violent behavior.

    So while their attempt to get this labeling legislated is rather misguided, their proposed labeling is quite correct.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymoose Custard (profile), Mar 21st, 2012 @ 11:27am

    Re:

    Well, clearly you give a shit - you're replying to his posts, aren't you?

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2012 @ 11:33am

    politicians seem to jump at the chance to make issues out of things when there is zero evidence saying that something needs to be done. i suppose they feel it's safer to do this type of thing rather than actually concentrate on a topic that does need to have something done. scared of controversy perhaps?

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2012 @ 11:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Logical Solution...

    My point is linked by what? The implied answer is evidence from a scientific study. If no study exists or no evidence from said study to support the claim exists then it is a lie. From the cases I have read where the Surpreme Court has overturned laws most of them were based in the fact that the law in question conflicted with a different existing law. For instance some of the registration requirements of the NFA (1934) were overturned by Haynes v. United States (1968) for conflicting with the 5th amendments. The government can't pass laws that require you to break other laws. So since we have consumer protection laws that keep companies from advertising products with false claims on their packaging the laws that require them to include warning labels that are false would be in conflict.

     

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  33.  
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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Mar 21st, 2012 @ 11:35am

    Re: Re: I'm fine with this.

    Now, what else should be on the list?
    People..... every bit of violence is conclusively linked to people. I know where you can get a good deal on army surplus tattoo equipment to start labelling.....

     

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  34.  
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    Overcast (profile), Mar 21st, 2012 @ 11:42am

    As multiple studies have pointed out, the link between video games and violence is flimsy at best

    If there is a relationship - then it's shared by music and movies - they should get the same warnings as any video game would.

    The most violent video games I can think of - pale in comparison to many movies out there.

     

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  35.  
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    TDR, Mar 21st, 2012 @ 11:44am

    And what do these morons plan to do about digital downloads from places like Steam? Kind of hard to put a label on those. Or do those idiots even realize that digital downloads exist? That you can buy a game without ever going to a store? Somehow I doubt it.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2012 @ 11:44am

    WARNING: Excessive exposure to corporate funding may lead to corrupt politicians.

     

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  37.  
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    [citation needed or GTFO], Mar 21st, 2012 @ 11:50am

    WARNING: Excessive exposure to Techdirt may cause IP troll infestations. Side effects may include dry mouth, nausea and the loss of about a million brain cells.

     

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  38.  
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    Simple Mind (profile), Mar 21st, 2012 @ 11:54am

    What is their agenda?

    Why do they keep pushing this? What do they gain? Who would lobby for such labels? I just don't get it.

    WARNING: Being elected to congressional office may lead to stupidity.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2012 @ 12:01pm

    Re: What is their agenda?

    Huh? I think you mean:


    WARNING: Stupidity may lead to being elected to congressional office


    After all, the opposite would indicate that:

    A) That all people in congress are stupid

    B) That some of the people in congress used to be intelligent.


    No matter which side you take, one of these must be incorrect :/

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2012 @ 12:01pm

    Re:

    Oh then that means we have to outlaw digital downloads of games then since there can't be a label to protect the children!

     

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  41.  
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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Mar 21st, 2012 @ 12:03pm

    Re:

    And yet another attempt for you to write something that people actually give a shit about. FAIL

    wtf are you talking about?

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2012 @ 12:05pm

    Re: Re:

    Next we'll see the Content Cartels claiming using this argument to justify withholding content. We have to have the rating sticker to protect the children!

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2012 @ 12:06pm

    Re: Re: Ratings

    What!? My game's not in stores!!! How dare they! If only there was some direct download setup to all major console...oh. But what about the poor PC playe...ah. Hmm...
    Well then.

     

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  44.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2012 @ 12:10pm

    How about...

    Stupid laws requiring labels are linked to people that are completely full of shit.

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2012 @ 12:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Ratings

    iirc you need to be rated to get through the certification to get onto the xbox and ps3 stores. However yes lots of no box PC games do not bother to get rated.

     

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  46.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2012 @ 12:18pm

    " WARNING: Exposure to violent video games has been linked to aggressive behavior."

    WARNING: Exposure to stupid ass bills has been linked to aggressive behavior

     

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  47. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2012 @ 12:27pm

    WARNING: Exposure to Marcus Carab rapping has been linked to aggressive behavior.

     

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  48.  
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    eflink@sbcglobal.net, Mar 21st, 2012 @ 12:28pm

    WARNING: EXPOSURE TO POETRY ...

    Half a league, half a league, half a league onward,
    All in the valley of Death rode the six hundred.
    "Forward, the Light Brigade!
    "Charge for the guns!" he said:
    Into the valley of Death rode the six hundred.

    "Forward, the Light Brigade!" Was there a man dismay'd?
    Not, tho' the soldier knew someone had blunder'd:
    Theirs not to make reply, Theirs not to reason why,
    Theirs but to do and die:
    Into the valley of Death rode the six hundred.

     

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  49.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 21st, 2012 @ 12:31pm

    Re: Please start including party labels. (R) (D)

    Please start including party labels. (R) (D)


    As we've said numerous times there is no reason to do this and we will NOT do this unless party affiliation is central to the story.

    If you reflexively include party affiliation everything automatically becomes a partisan discussion with partisans from both sides saying "well of course... blah blah blah... because s/he's a (R/D)." That's stupid and counterproductive.

    Don't worry about parties or labels. Worry about the ideas. Ignore the parties.

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2012 @ 12:32pm

    How's this...

    WARNING: Protests over stupid bills illegally bought by special interest groups for the purpose of increasing the wealth of the those special interests at the expense of technological innovation and the constitutional rights of the general public have NOT been linked to Google despite the claims of the special interest groups

     

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  51.  
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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Mar 21st, 2012 @ 12:42pm

    Re:

    WARNING: Exposure to Marcus Carab rapping has been linked to aggressive behavior.

    You are doing a fantastic job at driving traffic to my music pages, TAM. If I ever decide to take music seriously I'll consider hiring you as a promo guy.

     

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  52.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2012 @ 1:03pm

    I would point out in passing...

    ...that Baca means "stupid" in Japanese.

    And we already know what a wolf is.

     

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  53.  
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    Miff (profile), Mar 21st, 2012 @ 2:42pm

    Re: Re: Please start including party labels. (R) (D)

    What about state labels? At least that would let us know the difference between "I wish I was a constituatnt of X so I could vote against them" and "I wish X was up for re-election so I could vote against them".

     

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  54.  
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    Benjo (profile), Mar 21st, 2012 @ 2:59pm

    Re: This has nothing to do with 'protecting children'

    Indeed, you see this behavior in legacy entertainment as well. People are trying to move their careers further, not push new game-changing ideas.

     

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  55.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Mar 21st, 2012 @ 3:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: Ratings

    I don't play PC games very much.

     

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  56.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2012 @ 4:36pm

    Re:

    Life has a 100% death rate

     

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  57.  
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    Josh (profile), Mar 21st, 2012 @ 5:08pm

    WARNING: Exposure to stupid legislation has been linked to aggressive behavior.

     

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  58.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Mar 21st, 2012 @ 10:18pm

    WARNING: Exposure to idiotic politicians sometimes leads to violent tendencies and aggressive behaviour with remote controls.

     

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  59.  
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    Davey Doodle, Mar 22nd, 2012 @ 4:21am

    This may actually be a good thing

    Why has aggression become a bad thing? There are several people in my life that I want to be aggressive - my lawyer and my oncologist come to mind. I may be a half-century old but I still try to be aggressive in my sports.

    The alternative, passivity, sounds like a horrible way to live.

     

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  60.  
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    Niall (profile), Mar 22nd, 2012 @ 4:22am

    Re: Re:

    Clearly he gives a shit - he's here, reading the blog, period.

     

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  61.  
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    Niall (profile), Mar 22nd, 2012 @ 4:25am

    Re: Re:

    Give us some links then, now he's advertising you? I don't even like rap, but if it annoys him that much it's got to be worth something ;)

     

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  62.  
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    Niall (profile), Mar 22nd, 2012 @ 4:27am

    Re: How's this...

    WARNING: Protests over stupid bills illegally bought by special interest groups for the purpose of increasing the wealth of the those special interests at the expense of technological innovation and the constitutional rights of the general public will lead to damage to Google's reputation despite them having nothing to do with it.

    Not fixed but modified for context.

     

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  63.  
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    Michael, Mar 22nd, 2012 @ 5:14am

    Re: I'm fine with this.

    "They can slap this warning label on games as long as they promise to slap a similar one on all major religious texts, most of which will have at least a couple thousand years of correlation to support the statement."

    Typical hate-spewing atheist.

    Thanks for killing over 150 million people in the 20th century alone.

     

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  64.  
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    abc gum, Mar 22nd, 2012 @ 6:29am

    Re:

    IIRC, monsanto lobbied against the labels on milk containers.

    monsanto makes the drug that some dairies refuse to use and in addition, these dairies want to inform their customers of this fact.

    Regardless of rBST debates, putting such labels upon your product is part of a marketing strategy. monsanto does not like it. This is another example of a large corp exploiting regulatory capture in an effort to gain advantage in the marketplace.

     

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  65.  
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    abc gum, Mar 22nd, 2012 @ 6:42am

    Re: Re: I'm fine with this.

    There are content warning labels on movies and music, this attempt would put same upon video games. What makes you think that books are not on their list of things to labels upon?

    There have been many "book burnings" and lobbying for book removals from schools. There is a recent TD post about Enders Game being porno .... need I continue?

    As far as being a hater, one only has to look in a mirror.

     

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  66.  
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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Mar 22nd, 2012 @ 6:50am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Give us some links then, now he's advertising you? I don't even like rap, but if it annoys him that much it's got to be worth something ;)

    http://soundcloud.com/marcus-carab

    It's not your average rap (I'm no gangster) so who knows, maybe it'll change your mind on the genre :)

     

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  67.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2012 @ 7:03am

    Re: Re: How's this...

    I disagree. Google's reputation won't be harmed by this for the simple fact that they had nothing to do with it and their reputation is in the hands of those who actually DID have everything to do with it (ie. the public). The public knows the Content Cartels are full of shit in this regard.

     

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  68.  
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    Michael, Mar 22nd, 2012 @ 8:05am

    Re: Re: Re: I'm fine with this.

    "There are content warning labels on movies and music, this attempt would put same upon video games. What makes you think that books are not on their list of things to labels upon?"

    One doesn't need to look very far to find violence. It's found everywhere in the media, television, film, video games, on the streets, et al. Heck, the government promotes war as if it was something good.

    If broadcasting, depicting or simulating violence can lead to violent behavior in real life, what about sex, drugs, foul language, vanity, promiscuity, greed, theft, rape, stalking, and so forth?

     

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

  69.  
    icon
    The Groove Tiger (profile), Mar 22nd, 2012 @ 9:16am

    Re: Re: I'm fine with this.

    Wow, typical knee-jerking religious fundamentalist response...

    Everything goes, but never touch my precious religious dogma! They are above all reproach!

    If you say anything (ANYTHING AT ALL) bad about religion you're a HATE-SPEWING ATHEIST!

     

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

  70.  
    identicon
    Yoshord, Mar 22nd, 2012 @ 1:29pm

    Re: Re:

    Why even require owning a violent video game? Exposure to any video game ought to be enough to count as a violent crime.

     

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

  71.  
    identicon
    The Moondoggie, Mar 23rd, 2012 @ 1:29am

    Ehem...

    WARNING: Excessive exposure to Joe Baca and Frank Wolf has been linked to retarded personality and stupidity.

     

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


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