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Censorship Your Rights Online

Salon on Video Games and Free Speech 283

Posted by timothy
from the e-ticket-to-the-slippery-slope dept.
EyesWideOpen writes: "There is an article at Salon that covers a U.S. District Judge's ruling that computer games don't deserve First Amendment protection. The ruling is in response to The Interactive Digital Software Association's request for the dismissal of an ordinance that requires parental consent before children under 17 can buy or play violent or sexually explicit video games. From the Salon article: 'From his ruling, [US District Judge] Limbaugh appears to believe that no amount of contextual information, or additional narrative, in a game is enough to make it a work of art or expression worthy of the name 'free speech.'' The judge's deliberations were based in part on his review of four games: 'Fear Effect,' 'Doom,' 'Mortal Kombat' and 'Resident Evil'."
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Salon on Video Games and Free Speech

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  • Lack of Knowledge (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Apreche (239272) on Monday May 06, 2002 @05:44PM (#3472975) Homepage Journal
    removes your right to judge. I mean seriously. If you aren't an expert or at least very knowledgeable about literature you really don't have a right to say which books are better than others. I'm not saying that you don't have the right to an opinion and a right to voice that opinion. What I'm saying is that if you aren't knowledgeable about something, then your judgement isn't valid.
    This is why we are having such trouble with laws regarding software, video games, etc. The lawyers, judges, and other people with the power to make decisions aren't knowledgeable enough to make well informed decisions. I mean you got a guy who play 4 very violent games with an extreme lack of plot and then decided games weren't art. Try getting a judge who's played games since he was 2. Someone who knows. When people who were alive before computers retire and the next generation comes into power I'm sure we wont have these stupid problems anymore, because people with power to decide will be more knowledgeable.

    I would also like to see if this judge would make the same decision after playing through Final Fantasy 6 or Chrono Trigger.
  • by shawnmelliott (515892) on Monday May 06, 2002 @05:48PM (#3473006) Journal
    I personally believe the judge was fair and informed. This can be seen by his
    A. Wrong use of 2 of the titles
    "Mortal Combat" and "Resident of Evil Creek"
    B. Only looked at 4 titles.

    The judge didn't play the games. He was shown video clips ( More likely to be the gory ones such as a MK Fatality ) and of the games he did see all 4 were basically the Gory ones in the industry. He didn't see Final Fantasy. He didn't see Metal of Honor. He didn't see any of the other more robust and story/plot/idealistic driven games.

    This is similar to judging all movies value as Free Speech based on
    Nightmare on Elm St.
    Halloween
    Friday the 13th
    Texas Chainsaw Massacre

    Anybody can see how ridiculous a judgement based on such a small set of evidence is. However, I do believe that the Gaming industry should have done a better job. Why didn't he see anything else?!? Why did he only see the "plots" of specific games and not a showing of those games themselves including cut-scenes. gameplay and the likes?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 06, 2002 @05:55PM (#3473057)


    Maybe we should judge all mediums by some of the worst representations.

    Maybe movies shouldn't be protected because all of those actions thrillers just have violence.

    Maybe books shouldn't be protected because all those romance novels are just softcore porn.

    Maybe music shouldn't be protected because all that gangster rap just talks about killing cops.

    What the hell is wrong with people. Sure there are games that have no decent content, but there are also games like black and white, sim city, etc that actually have redeeming value. I don't think most games should be banned from kids, regardless, or more precisely because of their content. If I didn't have video games to vent my frustration with when I was younger I might have vented in a far more destructive manner. Give me the violent games, god knows the sims aren't going to keep me from being frustrated with the stupidity of this judge.

    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
  • by guttentag (313541) on Monday May 06, 2002 @06:15PM (#3473200) Journal
    Lack of Knowledge removes your right to judge.
    No, lack of knowledge removes your competency to judge, but the right to judge is endowed by the person who appoints judges. In the case of federal judges, that person is the President, who traditionally decides based on the official recommendations of the American Bar Association. Bush broke this tradition, so we have no idea who influences his appointments (Enron? MS? Some other campaign contributor?). Is it any wonder the Senate has refused to confirm 100 of Bush's federal judiciary appointments?

    This post is not off-topic -- I'm pointing out that there is no divine moral right to judge, the right is assigned by one of the most conveniently priced-to-own men in America.

  • Re:Game selection (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sketerpot (454020) <sketerpot.gmail@com> on Monday May 06, 2002 @06:23PM (#3473248)
    And how about the super nintendo game "evo"? It is based loosely on the theory of evolution. What if some creationists decided that it was a bad influence on kids and said, "Well, since this game isn't covered by the first amendment, let's ban it!"
  • by Deagol (323173) on Monday May 06, 2002 @06:44PM (#3473429) Homepage
    I was stuck at home, sick, a couple of weeks ago. Out of sheer boredom, I ended up watching some VH1 movie about how Tipper Gore led the charge that resulted in the "Parental Advisory" labels on music. To it's credit, it enlightened me to a battle I never knew had been fought -- and I'm a hair shy of being 30.

    Anyway, this law (the video games thing), along with past issues of "censorship" in the form of government-coerced industry self-policing got me thinking.

    The logic seems to be this:

    Some material is harmful to minors (I can buy that)

    Custodians of said minors are not competant enough to police the material themselves (I cannot accept this)

    Legislate morality into the industry, rather than trust parents (I think this simply bites)

    It got me thinking... If a parent (an "adult", mind you) can't be trusted to read a lyric, listen to an album, or watch a movie to determine if the material is right for their own kids (and this is easy stuff -- "yup, there's 4 scenes containing bush in Porky's, so Little Johnny can't rent it"), how the bloody hell can these same adults be expected to abide by the terms of a 20-page legalese-ridden EULA!!!

    I mean, there's gotta be some precedent here, right? If a legal adult can't be trusted to interpret the dumbed-down lyrics/music/visuals of modern-day mass media, there's just no way in hell they can handle a EULA! Release the attack litigators!

    I say if we adults are deemed too dumb to spot a tit in a movie or hear a naughty word in Prince's latest single, then other laws should reflect that. They shouldn't have it both ways.

    And I'd much rather have the labeling laws (and similar nonsense) repealed than to have new laws passed to protect us from EULA's.

    Back on topic, I have kids, and I know there's some disturbing stuff out there in theaters, in music, and on the internet. No, I'd rather my 6-year-old daughter not see porn pics on the internet or my 3-year-old son watch some guy get his spine ripped out in a video game, but, dammit, all these restrictions on content diminish what I can access now and what they can access as adults. This is what I ultimately object to. Because labels make it easy for suppliers to throttle the supply (i.e., Wal Mart will not carry "Parental Advisory" labeled music), which makes the content providers (artists) either change their creations or they're not accessible with equal footing to those who do. And that, my friends, is where this slippery slope goes. I don't think there's any real happy ground in between.

    Umm... &lt looks at post&gt sorry for the rant...

  • STOP!!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by coupland (160334) <dchase@@@hotmail...com> on Monday May 06, 2002 @07:08PM (#3473598) Journal
    Ok here go all my karma points, at least they'll be well-burned. This is getting ridiculous -- I'm all for free speech but does no one read these articles? This is about selling games like Doom and Resident Evil to kids without parental supervision. Even "protected" media like film still require some sort of parental guidance. I adore violent games and think cursing and shooting are damn-right funny. But that's MY OPINION! I see no reason to say "damn the parents, kids know better" when it comes to violence, sex, murder, war, and other situations glorified by games. NO RESPONSIBLE GAMER would argue otherwise. So you play your violent games and I'll play my violent games but don't be such holier-than-thou dicks as to suggest parents shouldn't be allowed to decide if their children should or shouldn't play games that depict graphic murder. Ignorant jerks...

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