Illinois Lawmaker Proposes Unconstitutional Ban Of 'GTA' In Response To Carjackings

from the jacked-up dept

If ever there were a stupid, unconstitutional notion that appears to be evergreen, it must certainly be attempts at outright banning games from the Grand Theft Auto series. While a certain segment of public officials have long sought to blame video games generally for all the world’s ills, the GTA series has been something of a lightning rod for attempted censorship. Honestly, it’s not totally impossible to understand why. The game is a violent, humorous parody of modern American life and pop culture, taken to such extremes so as to artistically point out the flaws in our society.

You know… art.

Art which is protected by the First Amendment and thus protected by attempts at government censorship. Which doesn’t keep public officials from trying to ban it anyway. The most recent example of this is one Illinois lawmaker suggesting the entire state ban sales of the game because of an uptick in car-jackings in Chicago.

An Illinois lawmaker has a new response to the recent surge in carjackings around the Chicago area — banning a popular video game. State Rep. Marcus Evans said during a press conference Monday morning in south suburban Olympia Fields that video games are contributing to the carjacking surge across the area.  Evans said he plans to introduce a bill to ban sales of the game in Illinois.

“‘Grand Theft Auto’ and other violent video games are getting in the minds of our young people and perpetuating the normalcy of carjacking,” Evans said. “Carjacking is not normal and carjacking must stop.”

Unfortunately, artistic takes that reflect our society are normal and, in fact, celebrated. And while an uptick in crime is certainly a cause for worry, it’s also worth noting that the last GTA game came out in 2013. Why the series is now a suddenly responsible for an increase in car-jackings goes unexplained by Evans, but seems to represent a massive flaw in his logic.

Evans is getting much of this from a local anti-violence activist, Early Walker.

Walker agreed with Evans’ conclusion about the game, in which players steal cars as part of a larger plot of organized crime.

“Representative Evans and I have researched and concluded that these very young offenders of carjacking are greatly influenced by the Grand Theft Auto video game,” Walker said. “I truly believe that there is bipartisan support in Springfield to ban this game from being sold in Illinois.”

Fortunately, it could have the support from literally every citizen in the state of Illinois and it still wouldn’t matter. Banning the game would be plainly unconstitutional. The Supreme Court codified video games as protected speech protected from government bans in 2011. A fact, actually, that Illinois lawmakers should damned well be aware of. So, this is either grandstanding to accomplish nothing, or it’s an admission that Illinois has elected incompetent buffoons to its state government.

Neither conclusion is particularly encouraging.

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Comments on “Illinois Lawmaker Proposes Unconstitutional Ban Of 'GTA' In Response To Carjackings”

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55 Comments
This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

This strikes me as an “I must be seen doing something” scenario where a lawmaker finds the easiest target to go after because they can’t/won’t go after the actual root cause of the issue. Such scenarios work more often than not — at least in regards to prolonging a political career — because being seen doing something is, itself, easier for the masses to accept.

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Anonymous Coward says:

This is one of those things that reveals more about the person making the proposal than about the people he thinks are influenced by the game.

He’s saying he’s susceptible to influence and he thinks everyone else must be too.

There are only a few isolated incidents of young children confusing video games with reality and that’s not the fault of the video games, but rather of their parenting. The same kids could get confused by movies and tv shows and other media.

I’ve committed genocide in videos since I was a kid and now I’m in my 40s with no criminal record and no history of murder or road rage or any kind of violence.

It’s almost like I knew the difference between games and reality…

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Anonymous Coward says:

Hot Coffee

I’m sure that hot coffee is responsible for the increase in teen pregnancies, not the ending of sex education and available prevention.

I would like to introduce this guy to the correlation between global climate change increases and the ever decreasing number of pirates.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Hot Coffee

Hmm.
There is a correlation between coffee consumption and lung cancer.
People who drink more coffee take more coffee breaks. During which they go out for a smoke…
On the other hand I’m not so sure about the pirate thing. The copyright people seem to have data that indicates there are more pirates today than at any time in history.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Hot Coffee

Lots of people make lots of claims, rarely do I see any evidence. Note, IP Address alone is not incontrovertible evidence.

ePiracy is a misnomer, as there are no swashbucklers stealing booty and burying treasure, it’s just some kids trading songs, movies and gifs.

Avast Mateys !

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Koby (profile) says:

Too Much Credit

A fact, actually, that Illinois lawmakers should damned well be aware of. So, this is either grandstanding to accomplish nothing, or it’s an admission that Illinois has elected incompetent buffoons to its state government…. Neither conclusion is particularly encouraging.

If it’s any consolation, I’ll reminded everyone of the congressman Hank Johnson / Guam capsizing incident. I’m just saying that it IS possible that an elected official could be so unaware. You are likely overestimating lawmakers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Too Much Credit

"Hank Johnson / Guam capsizing"

I had forgotten about that, it was funny.

I am not a geologist but I have read about underwater landslides, some result in collapse of above sea landmass. I assume it can be triggered by most anything, what can 8000 troops do to trigger such an occurrence … artillery practice? idk.

Yes, I’m afraid the we have several, maybe more, politicians that are ignorant.

TaboToka (profile) says:

Re: Re: Too Much Credit

I am not a geologist but I have read about underwater landslides, some result in collapse of above sea landmass.

Hank Johnson was referring to capsizing Guam, which doesn’t happen to islands. After he got busted for being stupider than a squid, he tried to play it off by saying he was joking and meant the military presence would be too much for the island’s infrastructure.

Unfortunately for Johnson, telling a good joke requires actually having intelligence.

Here’s a joke: he’s still in congress.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Too Much Credit

Yup – capsizing is for boats.

If I recall … Guam was very much involved in wwii and I’m pretty certain there were many more than 8000 troops involved. Many explosions of rather large proportion during that time would have capsized (lol) the island for sure if it was going to happen at all.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Too Much Credit

" I’m just saying that it IS possible that an elected official could be so unaware."

Emphasis mine.

Soo…about that program of mass education, lest the voters, ignorant sheep that they are, keep sending the dumbest dimbulbs they can find to govern the god damn country…?

At some point the US will wake up and realize the importance of an educated population. Hopefully before rather than after they have to re-learn the old european curriculum in said sad subject, the hard way – by suffering a full-blown nazi/fascist infestation and losing significant parts of their population getting rid of it.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Stop the food waste

Our children have taken to stomping on the mushrooms we buy… There’s that Mario Bro’s game that sensationalizes stomping on food and some small animals.
I’m afraid my children are going to start kicking turtles soon if the government doesn’t step in and put a stop to this.

ECA (profile) says:

In all of this

So, what do we do with the kids?
There are less activities around for them
There are NO jobs until they are 16, NOW(thanks repubs).
There is generally no one home to help, protect, GUIDE them as we work our buts off for less than $15 an hour(area dependent, as states are creating Their OWN min wage).
WE USED to have safe houses for kids, they had signs in the windows, incase they had Problems.

In the OLD days, we had Neighbors, NOT neighborhoods. Everyone knew everyone. Everyone help care for the kids, and watched out for them. There were people who knew all kinds of things, and If a kid needed a piece of wood, or wanted to learn about working on cars, and metal, THERE were people around to help and show them.
With todays ATTITUDES, you will be lucky if you can wlk on their lawns, because if they get HURT on your property, YOU WILL GET SUED.

ECA (profile) says:

Re: Re: In all of this

AC.
If you dont know.
The civil war was based on NOt having enough work up north. Capitalism, cutting corners.
And thinking releasing the slaves would give them More jobs.

Then we had Wars, and Lots of workers, until the END of those wars, and then No more jobs, again. Keep that in mind.

then we placed child labor laws, 12 years for Farm kids Older for others.
Then retirement
To limit those that COULD be working, to have MORE jobs.
Then recently we added that Farm kids had to be 16.

WE have enough people to do anything, But the idea that WE have to be PAID to do anything. And corps that dont understand WE NEED THE JOBS.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

No that's fair

I mean everyone knows there’s no other form of media that might glorify and/or excuse criminal actions, and what’s more theft and assault simply did not exist before the introduction of video games so it’s just as reasonable to blame GTA for criminal actions as it was to blame Minecraft for a bunch of kids going out and punching trees and trying to dig holes everywhere.

Adding to the tragedy of course is that kids and teenagers are mindless mirrors, unable to tell the difference between fiction and reality and with not a single person or category of people that could teach them otherwise, such that it’s only sensible to limit one particular aspect of a specific form of media lest they start getting Ideas.

Jeffrey Nonken (profile) says:

The best solution they could come up with was to ban an eight-year-old videogame. I don’t care if they believe it or not, they’re still incompetent buffoons.

A good problem-solver looks for root causes and isn’t afraid to throw away theories in the face of contradicting facts. You check your ego and move on.

The only problem these guys are trying to solve is how to look good without doing the work they’re paid for.

Anonymous Coward says:

Alzheimer's or demagoguery?

Has a physician evaluater Marcus Evans for Alzheimer’s? Seriously that sort of year confusion is mostly seen in memory care wards and is why one of the first questions doctors ask elders during checkups is what year it is. He looks young for it but well Alzheimer’s is vicious and can strike shockingly early.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

One other thing about that is that they could do like California does in enforcing its ban on out of state ammunuition, by spying on those who buy ammniution in Oregon, Nevada, or Arizona and the radioing ahead to police back in California.

Illinois could do that to enforce its GTA ban

However, that can be solved by jamming illinois police radios, so that any spies in Wisconsin or Indiana cannot radio anything ahead to police in Illinois.

Jam their radios so that your vehicle description cannot be radioed ahead to police in Illinois.

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Tanner Andrews (profile) says:

Fortunately, it could have the support from literally every citizen in the state of Illinois and it still wouldn’t matter. Banning the game would be plainly unconstitutional

It would also be unnecessary. If everyone was opposed to the game’s distribution, they would not purchase it, and the effect would be what was desired: no sales of GTA in the state.

Neither is this particularly unreasonable. There are said to be many projects which fail to achieve sufficient sales to be successful. We call that a “marketplace’, and some even celebrate it.

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Deltapooh42 (profile) says:

There is a mod for GTA that allows players to play as officers dedicated to stopping crime. Aside from LSPD First Response, there are a number of online communities with police following strict rules meant to mimic real police. Sure you can abuse your prisoner, tase them more than once as punishment, but you would be amazed at how many resist this to be good cops.

I state all this to point out GTA is open world. As the article noted, it highlights issues in our society, not create them. So even if the game was protected, banning it would have no impact. The game allows players to entertain bad behavior, not create it. And where it could possibly create, the blame is on parents that allow kids to play GTA.

John85851 (profile) says:

How about some evidence

Since this guy wants to ban a video game and directly impact a company’s business, then I assume he has proof. So…

How many people were carjacked last year?
Of those, how many of the carjackers played GTA?
Of those, how many said playing the game influenced their decision to carjack a car in real life?

By contrast:
How many copied of GTA were sold in the past 5 years?
Of those, how many were purchasing in Illinois?

So, then what percentage of people were influenced to carjack a car in real life compared to the total number of sales just in Illinois? So even though ALL of those people played the game without any issues, the game should still be banned?

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