Sen. Feinstein Says Congress 'Ready To Take Action' To Rein In Violent Video Games

from the maybe-just-punish-the-guy-who-did-the-actual-shooting? dept

Dianne Feinstein, whose post-Newtown assault weapons ban was defanged by Sen. Harry Reid before its inclusion in the Democrats' gun control bill, has decided to switch scapegoats. Now, she's determined to do something about violent video games, apparently unaware that the Supreme Court has already declared such regulatory "somethings" as unconstitutional.

Speaking to an audience of around 500 in San Francisco, Feinstein, who led the charge in the Senate on an assault weapons ban, said the video game industry should take voluntary steps to make sure it does not glorify guns in the wake of the December mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
That's an interesting choice of words. "Glorify guns." Sure, many games glorify guns (although I believe fetishize would be a more accurate word), as do many movies and an awful lot of rap music. There are also many, many websites (and magazines) that glorify guns. Here's a great site where pop culture intersects with gun "glorification," resulting in some very entertaining reading.

Then there's this part: "take voluntary steps." The video game industry has been voluntarily policing itself for the better part of two decades without incident. It's great (and rare) to see a legislator actually encourage or endorse voluntary behavior. But, this isn't one of those rarities.
She added that if the industry does not, Congress is prepared to take action, according to the Associated Press.
In other words, do it or we'll do it for you.

But do what, exactly? How does Congress keep the video game industry from "glorifying" guns without wading into territory expressly forbidden by the Constitution? Will the government set up its own ratings board and decide which games make it to retailers? Will Congress actually attempt to control content creation by exhuming the Hays Code? The Supreme Court has already declared that the government isn't allowed to regulate protected speech and yet Feinstein seems to be claiming not only that it can, but that it's being forced to by the industry itself.

Maybe that's the key. Skirt the First Amendment by setting up an "independent" review board and stocking it with like-minded former senators and representatives. Washington loves control and loves revolving doors and this would be both. The Hays Code would live again, cutting content, sending suggestions to developers and requiring every game to carry an official stamp of approval from the board.

According to Feinstein, there's no upside to video games, so why not use the cause du jour to craft a few laws and claw back the video game ratings system from the industry.
Feinstein said that video games play, "a very negative role for young people, and the industry ought to take note of that."

"If Sandy Hook doesn't do it, if the knowledge of the video games this young man played doesn't do it, then maybe we have to proceed, but that is in the future," she added.
Feinstein seems determined to get some sort of Newtown-related law on the books, preferably with her name attached. She's already worked her way through the Second Amendment and now is sighting the First. Once this legislation fails to coalesce, she'll be all out of amendments in that direction to use as doormats and will be running low on socially acceptable scapegoats. After that, there's nowhere to go but down. (Perhaps registration and a two-week waiting period for M-rated game purchasers?)

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Apr 2013 @ 7:49am

    It's funny how most politicians these days seem to think they have unlimited power.

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