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Illinois Videogame Law Struck Down 320

Posted by Zonk
from the chalk-one-up-for-free-speech dept.
Big_Al_B writes "CNN reports that a federal judge ruled against the state of Illinois law that banned the sale of some games to minors." From the article: "The Illinois law, which also was to go into effect January 1, would have barred stores from selling or renting extremely violent or sexual games to minors, and allowed $1,000 fines for violators. Kennelly said the law would interfere with the First Amendment and there wasn't a compelling enough reason, such as preventing imminent violence, to allow that." Triumphantly, GamePolitics offers up the ESA's reaction to the decision. The Governor has vowed to appeal, so this isn't over yet.
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Illinois Videogame Law Struck Down

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  • Uh, kinda sane (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ztream (584474) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @07:33AM (#14173045)
    Amidst all the cries of regulating violence and sexual content, this law seems rather moderate. Parents can still buy the stuff for their kids if they want to - nothing is banned. Too bad the more sane laws get struck down while extreme and harmful ones pass inspection.
    • by worb (935866) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @07:43AM (#14173074)
      If this is the same law proposal that specifically targeted video games but ignored things like movies, then the law isn't that sane after all. This was one of the big problems pointed out by the industry and its defenders - that the law was singling out video games and ignoring other forms of entertainment.

      The way this law looks now it's more of a patchwork, and a kind of "let's do something so it looks like we care and are actually giving value back to the tax payers" law which should be shot down and replaced with something better. Or ignored.

      • by kosibar (671097)
        There is certainly a difference between video games and movies.

        I was playing GTA for a couple of weeks. My favorite color is yellow. When I was looking for a car, I would always give preference to a yellow car. "I'm going to grab the next (kind of car I wanted here) that I find."

        Now, I'm a pretty normal guy. Business owner, volunteer with local charities, etc. But after a couple of weeks with GTA, I found myself noticing yellow cars that looked similar to those in the game and having this impulse to hop out
      • Actually, court SPECIFICALLY ALLOW you do regulate things in a patchwork fashion. Additionally, laws should be narrowly-focused. I think there needs to be something like this for games. I also think there needs to be something like this for movies. I DON'T, however, think they should be in the same law, because that invites overreaching aims, and if one of them turns out to be unworkable or problematic, it's easier to repeal an entire law than just a section, from a political standpoint.
      • by Buran (150348)
        So why is it legal to block the sale of, say, porn to minors (is it not a free speech issue since magazines and videos etc. are involved that are considered "the press"?) but not video games? Both are forms of media that have a controversial subject matter; one is blocked while the other is not. I honestly don't get it -- after all, people under 18 know as much about sex as older people do (people used to marry at much younger ages than today, for one) and there's no magic line that is crossed that all of a
    • Re:Uh, kinda sane (Score:5, Insightful)

      by malchus842 (741252) <stephen@adamsemail.net> on Saturday December 03, 2005 @08:47AM (#14173225) Homepage

      But this is how it always starts. The cry of We have to protect the children by politicians looking for re-election (and Gov Rod has several investigations into his administration to distract people from right now) leads to LOTS of bad law. And this one is no different. You know the next step - banning sales to kids didn't work, they are still getting their hands on them. So we have to make the law tougher. And the cycle continues.

      Fundamentally, the responsibility lies with the parents, not the state, to monitor what their kids do. This goes for all manner of things, not just buying video games. My kids know the rules that we have, and I know they know them. But my rules should not limit what OTHER parents or kids do! This is just another 'nanny-state' law - the kind I'm really getting tired of.

      I am reminded of the entire Tipper Gore vs. Frank Zappa music censorship battle. To quote Zappa (from the Joe's Garage liner notes:

      Desperate nerds in high offices all over the world have been known to enact the most disgusting pieces of legislation in order to win votes (or in places where they don't get votes, to control unwanted forms of mass behavior).

      Environmental laws were not passed to protect our air and water...they were passed to get votes. Seasonal anti-smut campaigns are not conducted to rid our communities of moral rot...they are conducted to give an aura of saintliness to the office-seekers who demand them. If a few key phrases are thrown into any speech (as the expert advisors explain to these various heads of state) votes will roll in, bucks will roll in, and, most importantly, power will be maintained by the groovy guy (or gal) who gets the most media coverage for his sleaze. Naturally, his friends in various businesses will do okay too.

      All governments perpetuate themselves through the daily commission of acts which a rational person might find to be stupid or dangerous (or both). Naturally, our government is no exception.

      Frank knew what he was talking about! Here's an excerpt from his congressional testimony that speaks volumes

      It is my understanding that, in law, First Amendment Issues are decided with a preference for the least restrictive alternative. In this context, the PMRC's demands are the equivalent of treating dandruff by decapitation.

      No one has forced Mrs. Baker or Mrs. Gore to bring Prince or Sheena Easton into their homes. Thanks to the Constitution, they are free to buy other forms of music for their children. Apparently, they insist on purchasing the works of contemporary recording artists in order to support a personal illusion of aerobic sophistication. Ladies, please be advised: The $8.98 purchase price does not entitle you to a kiss on the foot from the composer or performer in exchange for a spin on the family Victrola. Taken as a whole, the complete list of PMRC demands reads like an instruction manual for some sinister kind of "toilet training program" to house-break all composers and performers because of the lyrics of a few. Ladies, how dare you?"

      To bad Zappa died of cancer in 1993.

      • Gov Rod and Mrs. Gore are Democrats. I think that needs to be pointed out, because if they were Republicans, it would have been all over the story lead-in here. This is just another in a long line of Democrats trying create a "mommy-state" to keep us from ourselves.
      • Re:Uh, kinda sane (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Blkdeath (530393) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @09:21AM (#14173327) Homepage
        Fundamentally, the responsibility lies with the parents, not the state, to monitor what their kids do. This goes for all manner of things, not just buying video games. My kids know the rules that we have, and I know they know them. But my rules should not limit what OTHER parents or kids do! This is just another 'nanny-state' law - the kind I'm really getting tired of.

        Come on, we can't have it both ways. What about the grandmother who sued everybody and their brother after purchasing an 'M' rated game (GTA San Andreas, IIRC) for her young grandson?

        One way or another a precedent has to be set. Does the state protect the children, or is it the parent/guardians' responsibility?

        Let's face it, the world we live in today is different than the world of yesterday. Kids don't grow up as quickly because they're not put to work to support their families at 13 years of age. Therefore it was decided by society that there should be a reasonable(?) age limit set forth to determine when children become capable, decision making adults. This determines when you're allowed to vote, purchase and consume alcohol and tobacco products, sign your name to a binding contract, purchase / consume violent and/or pornographic materials, etc.

        To play devil's advocate for a minute here; the problem with abolishing all 'nanny-state laws' is a partial reflection of our current state of society. We have children with one or no living/remaining parents, children of parents who work long hours to make ends meet, and this leaves kids by and large to manage their own lives. In one circle of thought, this leaves kids to watch violence and porn while smoking, getting drunk and high while cleaning their firearms. Moral degredation of those less fortunate and all that.

        On the other side of the coin, it's also believed that if you don't allow children to make their own decisions and face consequences of same they'll never learn to be responsible. It's a tough sell, though, with cigarettes generalling taking years to take their toll on health, pedophiles and other sexual deviants coming out of the woodwork around every corner, violent crime spreading like untamed wildfire, ...

        Politicians, stemming largely from the rallying cries of concerned citizens' groups, have long determined that we can't take care of ourselves so the long arm of the law must step in and do it for us. Whether you agree with it or not, it seems to be a cost of our present level of society. Let's face it; technology advances faster than even the most educated lawmakers can comprehend and brings with it new methods of delivering sin that they feel must be dealt with. Naturally, if you're not satisfied with how your congresscritter is representing you send them some information and clarify it for them. There's always some sense of naive hope that it'll make a difference. ;)

        • I'm suspicious that judgment suddenly just "comes to a person" after their 18th birthday, or after any other day for that reason. Assuming we eliminate the preteen age range from the discussion, it is impossible to tell at what age someone receives adequate judgment to do adult things. 18 is just a nice, arbitrary number that coincides with the average age of leaving high-school*, so at the very least, parents will still be able to control this sort of thing at their discretion. I am against age controls
          • Re:Uh, kinda sane (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Blkdeath (530393) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @10:22AM (#14173514) Homepage
            I'm suspicious that judgment suddenly just "comes to a person" after their 18th birthday, or after any other day for that reason.

            You'll get no argument here. I still find it strange that at the age of 18 here in Ontario one is allowed to vote or sign up for the armed forces but not allowed to smoke, drink, or peruse sexual materials. At the age of 16 you're allowed to operate a motor vehicle but insurance rates make it prohibitive to do so (indicating the frequency of collisions and infractions by 16-18 year old drivers).

            The problem being, how do you determine when an individual is 'ready' for responsibility? Individual testing for age of majority status would be tedious, costly, and entirely ineffective. Ages are set at an arbitrary number decided by the government of the day at a point they believe is reasonable. You say the age when people graduate high school - that's probably not a coincidence. One would suppose by that point in a person's life they've had exposure to enough education and general life experience that they should(!) be capable of making decisions while understanding the consequences. Whether that's always the case is suspect, but hey, it's an imperfect world we live in.

            I know a lot of people who believed themselves to be ready to party, have sex, and nine months later the consequences became very real. Sure enough, they drop out of school, live on their parents' (or the tax payers') dime and eventually find themselves grossly unqualified to do anything that pays more than minimum wage. But at the age of 14 here in Ontario boys and girls are considered mature enough to have sex.

            What we need is some form of mandatory training on personal responsibility in the modern world. But hey, that's just my opinion.

      • Re:Uh, kinda sane (Score:3, Informative)

        by Generic Guy (678542)

        I am reminded of the entire Tipper Gore vs. Frank Zappa music censorship battle.

        Tipper Gore, wife of U.S. vice-president and 2000 election Democratic candidate Al Gore, was huge behind the whole censorship of music. She wanted to ban all sorts of stuff (yeah, nice line for a supposed 'liberal' to take). After some capitulation, we're still stuck with those giant "bad laguage" warning stickers.

        I'm a parent, and of course I'm concerned about what my kids see and do. But these are the kind of nanny-stat

    • "Parents can still buy the stuff for their kids if they want to"

      Technically, yes, but realisticly they'll never find a store that carries such games (nor will adults wishing to buy the game for themselves). If you are a store that carries M or AO games, there will always be some slight chance that one game will make it into the hands of an unaccompanied minor (it's Christmas time, cashiers are too swamped to really pay attention to who is buying what), and you get slapped with a $1000 fine if you let that
  • by xoip (920266) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @07:35AM (#14173047) Homepage
    With Freedom comes responsibilities. It is about time parents took some responsibility for what goes on in their home and not defer their parental responsibilities to the State. The sad fact is, too many parents don't take any responsibility for what their kids watch, read or play.
    • The sad fact is, too many parents don't take any responsibility for what their kids watch, read or play.

      So, you're saying that because the kids' parents are crap then the kids should'nt be protected from scenes of "extreme violence"? Does this mean you think it's the kids' fault that the parents are irresponsible?

      TWW

      • ... then the kids should'nt be protected from scenes of "extreme violence"?

        Protected how, and by who? You, me, the government, some political party, the army, our new children-protecting overlords...? The problem is that everything can be passed in the name of some Greater Good, in this case children's protection, but it soon turns out to be either ineffective, prone to abuse or tyrannical.
        And there is nothing strange with that: we all want power, and given a certain situation we will exploit what's avai
    • Being a responsible parent includes being politcally involved on your child's behalf.
  • to ensure that children have access to violent and or filthy materials?
    Do you think that it's GOOD that kids should be seeing this sort of trash?

    As a parent and a grandfather, I would not want my kids partaking in this sort of degenerate filth. It's garbage.

    And don't get all excited. I'm an atheist so I'm not some religious right wing zealot..

    I'm an adult and I know what's bad for kids. I've raised two kids myself, they are adults now and I'm happy to say I think they turned out pretty good and I had str
    • by jurt1235 (834677) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @07:52AM (#14173091) Homepage
      Would it not also be helpfull to expose a kid to all the things in life, but explain to the kid what is morale and what is not. Looking at extremist behaviour, it is mainly because of taboos that they get worse than necessary. No taboos, but just a good sense of what is normal and what is less normal (or plain abnormal) works a lot better.

      So next time when you think of forbidding something because it is bad, maybe you should allow it and educate on it.
      • Would it not also be helpfull to expose a kid to all the things in life, but explain to the kid what is morale and what is not.

        Do you really think it's better to let your child(ren) learn morality while picking up hookers and shooting cops than to have open, frank discussions with them? Violent video games aren't a neccesity of life, nor are they a teaching tool. They're entertainment.

      • So next time when you think of forbidding something because it is bad, maybe you should allow it and educate on it.

        My experience has been that sometimes its just the exposure that is damaging. I have a three year old, and sometimes its just the viewing or introduction to a concept that seems to be the damaging element in the experience. IMHO, parents are around to prevent those sort of experiences if they can.

        The other problem is that children don't often fully understand the moral weight of a certa
        • The problem which stays, and which I could have put more clear in my initial statement is that at a certain moment, the forbidding parent disappears, and the young adult, who is still very easy to influence, will get in contact with the material. Now it happens by accident, which gives the parent the possibility to act on that and educate the kid.
          I do not believe that parents will educate their kids about this, if there is no exposure. Just look at the state of sexual education, STDs and prevention. Parents
    • by sqlrob (173498) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @07:57AM (#14173104)
      The emphasis is put back right where it should be - on the parents.

      Don't like video games? Don't allow them in your house, the same way you forbid MTV.
      • I didn't allow any of that sort of thing in my house. But not once was there every any sqaubbles over it. That was just the way it was. My kids knew what was acceptable and what was not and there never was a problem in my house. Never once was there any arguments, problems, fights, anything. My kids behaved well and respected my wishes and rules. I was proud of them then and I'm proud of them now. They never even asked if they could buy, play or watch this sort of filth because they simply knew it wa
        • I can't belive that people think that an underage child that lives in his parents home has the RIGHT to do any thing he wants, that he has the RIGHT to view any materials, to play any games, to surf anywhere on the internet, that he has the right to do anything he feels like doing and that the parent should have no say so, no right to restrict or deny the activities in their own home

          Very few people have been saying that here. It is not the government's responsibility to control your child. You are free to
        • They never even asked if they could buy, play or watch this sort of filth because they simply knew it was not an going to happen under my roof.

          And exactly what kind of games were available to your kids when they were growing up? In your original post, you mentioned you're a grandfather now, I'd guess your children would be in their early 20s by now. I'd think the worst they would've encountered as children would've been the original Doom. So I'm not sure what sort of games you'd have been protecting them
        • Why do you have such a big problem with that? I can't belive that people think that an underage child that lives in his parents home has the RIGHT to do any thing he wants, that he has the RIGHT to view any materials, to play any games, to surf anywhere on the internet, that he has the right to do anything he feels like doing and that the parent should have no say so, no right to restrict or deny the activities in their own home..

          Kids these days are extremely disrespectful of their elders and of the wish

        • "Kids these days are extremely disrespectful of their elders and of the wishes of their parents."

          You know, whilst kids these days may well be disrespectful etc, that doesn't actually mean that they're any different to the kids of previous generations. The two quotations that I rather like here are:

          "The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority, they show disrespect to their elders.... They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter b

        • Really, I'm talking to people that are incapable of understanding the problems of society because they know nothing but self indulgence and self gratification.

          It's hard to imagine an act of greater self-indulgence than telling other people what they can write, speak, or draw.
    • by Rocketship Underpant (804162) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @08:01AM (#14173112)
      As a parent and a grandfather, I would not want my kids partaking in this sort of degenerate filth. It's garbage.

      So be a responsible parent and grandfather then, and restrict those things from your kids yourself. Don't take the easy, selfish route of asking the State to do your parenting for you. Your temporary convenience is not worth your freedom, nor the freedom of your neighbours.
    • by ashridah (72567) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @08:10AM (#14173128)
      "...to ensure that children have access to violent and or filthy materials?
      Do you think that it's GOOD that kids should be seeing this sort of trash?"

      Obviously, you don't believe YOUR children shouldn't. Doesn't mean everyone should automatically agree with you.

      The reason this is being fought tooth and nail is because it's a stepping stone to greater losses of the so-called freedoms you americans face (note, author of this post not american)

      "As a parent and a grandfather, I would not want my kids partaking in this sort of degenerate filth. It's garbage."

      By your reasoning, so's most of shakespear's work.. oh. so that's written on paper, so that's okay? Right, double-standard much? May as well burn every library and start again with fresh culture.

      "And don't get all excited. I'm an atheist so I'm not some religious right wing zealot.."

      *blink* so that means you're just a right wing zealot? You don't have to be religious to be a moral crusader, it just seems to be common.

      "I'm an adult and I know what's bad for kids. I've raised two kids myself, they are adults now and I'm happy to say I think they turned out pretty good and I had strict rules on this sort of thing in my home. I absolutely forbid MTV and such trash under my roof and it was NOT a problem, as a matter of fact my son came home from college last year and told me that he was glad that I had forbidden MTV type trash in the home.."

      A sample of two is not a valid experiment. Come back and talk to me when you've raised about 30-thousand children, AND when you have a valid cross-section of lifestyles, living areas, etc. Your experiment is also loaded with bias. Read http://www.badscience.net/ [badscience.net] for examples of bias in experiments.

      Millions of children grow up with video games, MTV, books, porn, the internet, and none of them turn out to be serial killers, gang members, murderers, rapists, drug users, etc.

      Some kids who have no contact with any of the above media still commit crimes of these nature, hell, they were committing these crimes before the media existed at all!

      Statistically speaking, the fact that there's an intersection at some point between violent crimes and these types of media is just a proof that both exist in a random selection of people!

      ash

      PS, I find it entertaingly co-incidental (aka, an alanis-morriset style ironicism) that i was asked to reproduce the word 'gunned' to verify my humanity.
    • by deaddrunk (443038) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @08:32AM (#14173183)
      Japanese media is full of sex, violence and swearing and it isn't kept away from children, yet the violence rate there is far lower than the US or the UK where I live which suggests to me that there's something else wrong with our culture than media excess. I personally wouldn't want my nephews playing realistically violent video games but on the other hand I doubt it would affect them unless they have psychological problems already.
      • Very true. I live in a country where alcoholism is negligible, yet we can drink since we're 16. We can also smoke when we are 16, and we DO have a problem with smoke addiction. This goes to show how such limits are not really related to the problems being discussed.
    • Who decides? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Joe Random (777564) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @09:00AM (#14173265)
      Why is everyone so gung-ho to ensure that children have access to violent and or filthy materials?
      Do you think that it's GOOD that kids should be seeing this sort of trash?
      What sort of trash? Is entertainment that references alcohol or drug use trash? What about promiscuity? Violence? Homosexuality? Who gets to decide what "filthy materials" are?

      The answer, of course, is the parents. An outright ban on the sale of violent or "filthy" materials to children ignores the fact that different parents have differing levels of comfort with what their children are exposed to. As long as the material in question isn't going to harm the child (i.e. showing real snuff videos to kindergartners or some such) then the parents should be allowed to make that decision.

      The question is, do you ban everything and require specific parental consent for exceptions, or do you permit everything and rely on the parents to keep track of what their kids are doing? Personally, I'm in favor of the latter, and for that to work, children must have access to materials that some parents find offensive.
    • "to ensure that children have access to violent and or filthy materials?"

      Straw man. Access by children is not the issue for me, the issue is state legislatures trying to take away my access, as a legal, tax-paying citizen who reached the age of majority a while ago, to "violent and/or filthy materials," especially in the name of "think of the children!" Any burden on selling these games "for the children" is a burden in general, one more reason for stores not to stock such games to begin with. And while
      • Any burden on selling these games "for the children" is a burden in general, one more reason for stores not to stock such games to begin with.

        Speaking of strawmen, here's a book of matches.

    • to ensure that children have access to violent and or filthy materials?
      Do you think that it's GOOD that kids should be seeing this sort of trash?


      By "children", do you mean people who are a few days shy of their seventeenth birthday? Some of which or attend college, or are in the armed forces?

      Do you think it's GOOD that these 'children' have access to violent and filthy movies? How about violent and filthy books? Do you feel the government should step in and make sure all books are rated and that 'children'
    • If you did such a great job, and I'm sure you did and I commend you for it, then why do we need this law? It's not that the law itself is so bad, it's laws like these are the first step toward a restrictive, intolerant society.

      As one parent to another I do understand what you are saying. But it's *our* job to make sure *our* kids do the right thing. Once we let lawmakers do it we as parents will begin to absolve ourselves of all responsibility and before you know it anything remotely upsetting to people wil
    • by Buran (150348) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @11:24AM (#14173770)
      The problem is that while you may feel you are making the right choices, and you may feel that the government is making the right choices, not everyone agrees with you. If I choose to read a particular book and I feel it's the right book for me to read, for whatever reason, at whatever my age might be, it's MY choice to make and not yours and not the government's. People are up in arms about it because the choice has been taken away from the person who is best fit to make it -- the individual themself -- and put into someone else's hands, someone who doesn't know me or what's fit for me. No one knows you better than yourself.

      I'm 30 years old but I was a minor once (we all were) and I was a responsible person and I have never been in trouble with the law. Yet I have played "violent" games before while a minor, such as Doom and Quake and games like them, because they were what I wanted to play and I enjoyed playing them. These games involve shooting things and the use of firearms. I have also watched films that involve a lot of gun battles and the like (Terminator, Terminator 2 etc) and enjoyed them.

      Yet my experience with guns so far is limited to safe use, under supervision, on a firing range; I wore safety goggles and followed all gun safety rules and before I consider purchasing a gun (what kind I do not yet know -- a shotgun might be best for home defense) for home defense or concealed carry, I will enroll in a safety course as required by local law and will be sure to wear safety goggles and ear protection during training.

      In short, I am a responsible individual who enjoys some things you might ban because you feel they're unsuitable without knowing a thing about me. I know how to be safe and I take steps to ensure that I am.

      The best way to handle such things is to ensure that people are educated about the subject material at hand. My parents never restricted me from drinking alcohol (the alcohol is actually kept at floor level in their house and always has been) and never monitored what games I played (admittedly largely flight sims; I'm an aviation geek, but they never nitpicked what I brought home) or the books I read. They trusted me to know what I was doing.

      And it worked. To this day I play flight sims, Civilization-type strategy games, read all sorts of sci-fi and science books ... and play first-person shooters and watch movies like the Terminator series. I also don't drink much (I don't like the taste of wine or beer, and I keep to stuff like Bailey's and Godiva liqueurs and eggnog-with-brandy).

      Now, would you say it was bad for me to be able to access the food, movies, games, and books that I did? Did I turn out to be a bad person? No. Because my family knew I was responsible, a smart person, and unlikely to do anything stupid. They didn't need government nannies to do their job for them. They taught me the wisdom of educating yourself and to do the smart thing.

      You have no right to say what is "trash" and "garbage" for anyone other than yourself. If someone not you wants to watch that stuff, that's not your judgment call to make. And if you make it, you just get people angry at you for intruding in on their lives. That's the problem the goverment faces when they start whining about what's on TV (people see a lot more sex elsewhere than they do on TV, and a lot more swearing), when they ban drinking (kids don't wait til 21 to take their first drink, believe me, no matter what you or the government wants to believe) or sex (same).

      If the government would relax and try to educate people on how to live safely instead of arbitrarily banning sex, drugs, alcohol, etc. till some magic "wow, they'll be careful after this day but not before it" age (or in the case of drugs, NEVER allow them) they'd probably find that people have a hell of a lot more common sense than they think, and the "it's forbidden, I must defy authority by partaking in it because they have no right to tell me what not to do" protesting would die down. After all, the drinking age is a lot lower in Europe and you don't hear as many insane "drunk college kids" stories from over there ...
  • by keraneuology (760918) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @07:40AM (#14173063) Journal
    Why is it legal to sell some slasher video game to kids where they get to control the action, but not legal to sell the slasher DVD to those same kids? Why can you sell some Playboy game, or some hardcore sex game to kids, but they can't buy the magazine?

    Pick a standard and stick with it - kids should either be allowed to purchase sexual images or they shouldn't. Just because one particular format sells more than others isn't a valid reason to allow it but exclude everything else.

    • Why is it legal to sell some slasher video game to kids where they get to control the action, but not legal to sell the slasher DVD to those same kids?

      Ummm, it is perfectly legal. That's the problem with these video game laws. Apply to all media or none.

      The vast majority of games (and yes, I'm including Hot Coffee in this list) do not have any sexuality over and above that in R rated movies. Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude was no different than American Pie. San Andreas (w/Hot Coffee) is no different th
      • And it is acceptable to prohibit minors from entering a movie theater to see an R rated movie without and adult, right?

        Oh... wait... it isn't. Why haven't the judges declared that age restrictions on R movies (or even NC-17 movies) are unconstitutional? Why can't any 10 year old go off and buy a copy of cream 'n juggz off the magazine rack? A 21 year old is allowed to visit hustler.com at a library, but a 12 year old isn't. Why are all of these age restrictions acceptable but the one involving video g

        • And it is acceptable to prohibit minors from entering a movie theater to see an R rated movie without and adult, right?

          It is not acceptable for the government to do that regulation, without regulating *ALL* media. And they do not do that regulation.

          It is done entirely by the theater.
        • Why haven't the judges declared that age restrictions on R movies (or even NC-17 movies) are unconstitutional?

          Because MPAA ratings are voluntary [kotaku.com]. Nobody passed a law requiring age restrictions on R and NC-17 movies, the movie theatres got together and said "gee, if we let kids come in and see this stuff, people's heads will explode and we'll lose millions" and did so.

          And gee, look at all this furor over these games. All these "advocates" have their panties in a bind... and all of the major retailers alr
    • Like others, your subject line is a straw man.

      I'm not saying "12 year old kids should have Playboys," I'm saying "I should be able to have Playboys." If you pass a law that says "Anybody who sells a Playboy to a 12 year old gets fined $1000," guess what magazine stores will stop carrying. If you don't carry the magazine, you can't get fined. If nobody carries the magazine, it won't get published.
      • "Anybody who sells a Playboy to a 12 year old gets fined $1000," guess what magazine stores will stop carrying. If you don't carry the magazine, you can't get fined. If nobody carries the magazine, it won't get published.

        You didn't address the question: Is it now illegal to sell playboys to 12 year olds? If it is, your reply doesn't make any sense, as stores do still carry them so nothing prevents you from getting it.
        • "Is it now illegal to sell playboys to 12 year olds?"

          Now that I think about it, your typo poses an interesting question. Was it ever illegal to sell Playboys to 12 year olds? The Feds can't touch it, but is what we're seeing examples of state regulation, or self regulation?
    • As others have noted, in America, movie ratings are voluntary, just like videogame ratings. There is no national or state law preventing a minor from going into an R-rated movie. The studios enforce these policies themselves.

      I know that the cash registers of many stores ask for an age when a customer tries to buy an M-rated game. Do they ask for ages when buying an R-rated film? What about the very common "unrated" editions of films that were PG-13 when they were in the theaters? I'm certain the local
    • Kids should be allowed to purchase sexual images if they so please and have the money to do so. What the hell is so bad about sex that everyone wants to keep any mention of it it from the hands of "children"?

      And what are these "children" you speak of, anyway? The young people I've met have always seemed filled with intelligence, but with layers and layers of cultural and social norms and conditioning layed down by school and parents cutting them off from this intelligence until they become the sick creatu
  • by Loonacy (459630) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @07:42AM (#14173070)
    Does this mean that it's unconstitutional to ban the sale of Playboys to minors?
    Honestly, I'm confused here. I'm all for freedom of speech and all that, but this was a ban on selling "extremely violent or sexual games" to minors. I'm guessing this is AO rated stuff, which could be comparable to nudie mags (Playboy Mansion?). What's the big deal?
    • This article is awful. What the law really did was required retailers to post ratings about the content of the game, despite that games ALREADY have the ESRB ratings listed.

      The reason it was struck down wasn't because the judge felt kids should be getting Playboy. He felt it is already being addressed by the industry without unneeded legislation.
  • by GQuon (643387) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @07:51AM (#14173090) Journal
    This is part of the crackdown on panhandlers and street-muggers. If this law had been passed, young children would be forced to pay homeless guys to buy games for them. Less incentives for those few homeless who might commit violence or other undesireable acts against children.

    Then, there's inevitable creation of a underground kindergarten black^H^H^H^H^H African-American market for adult video games. Once this distribution chain gets established, it's bound to escalate its content from slasher-games to porn, snuff, cocaine and 2nd hand ballistic missiles. And we don't want our children to get their grubby little hands on those, do we? Not without proper training. So the court has ordered that this law may be passed if it is accompanied by a raider that mandates training in the proper use of cocaine and nuclear missiles.
  • Hang On A Minute (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CowboyBob500 (580695) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @07:57AM (#14173105) Homepage
    I was under the impression (from over here in the UK) that the rating on a game means that no-one under a certain age should be sold it. The article suggests that such a thing is against the First Amendment, WTF?

    Over here in the UK, games are rated in the same way that movies, alcohol, tobacco etc are in that if you are caught supplying them to anyone underage you can get prosecuted.

    I'm against censorship in that an adult should not be censored from what they wish to see/do, but ratings are a good thing IMO. This kind of court decision just seems back-asswards to me. Does this ruling mean that a child can go to an adult rated film, and if they get denied entry claim it breaches their First Amendment rights?

    Bob
    • by Guppy06 (410832)
      "The article suggests that such a thing is against the First Amendment, WTF?"

      It "abridges the freedom of speech."

      Personally, however, I think Article I, Section 4 of the Illinois Constitution better applies here:

      All persons may speak, write and publish freely, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty.

      Penalizing stores for carrying such games infringes on a person's ability to publish such games.

      "games are rated in the same way that movies, alcohol, tobacco etc are in that if you are caught supplying

  • No Limits? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kefaa (76147) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @08:20AM (#14173150)
    Where can anyone now draw the line? The judge ruled that there wasn't a compelling enough reason, such as preventing imminent violence The Illinois law, would have barred stores from selling or renting extremely violent or sexual games to minors.

    Deeper into the ruling the judge makes an interesting statement:
    "The First Amendment embodies a principle that is at the core of our political system and our national ethos: "each person should decide for himself or herself the ideas and beliefs deserving of expression, consideration, and adherence." A law that restricts speech because of its message "contravenes this essential right. For this reason, content-based regulations are presumptively invalid."

    Couldn't the same argument be made for anything? Movies? Porn? If you get specific about what constitutes imminent violence even guns qualify. In essence, you cannot stop someone from selling anything to anyone because you cannot prove it creates or produces an immanent threat to anyone.

    If I were the porn industry, the focus would change to video games. Why not, since I can now sell to anyone, regardless of age. They cannot do that with magazines and online.

    For the posters who said - it is up to parents. I agree to a point. I watch my children, however I still expect the police to arrest drug dealers, child molesters, etc. While I can watch mine, who knows if you are watching yours. Sure, you buy them Super Mario Brothers XXVIII, but they took the birthday money from grandma and bought Leisure Suit Larry does Las Vegas. It is also a contiguous fight with game manufactures to really explain what is going on in the game. While I would have passed on GTA for the violence, I must have missed the "Contains explicit sexual acts" statement on the game - oh wait, it wasn't on the game.
    • While I would have passed on GTA for the violence, I must have missed the "Contains explicit sexual acts" statement on the game - oh wait, it wasn't on the game.

      From the San Andreas (Hot Coffee, pre recall) label:
      Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs
    • Do not confuse the right sell to anyone with the ability to actually sell. Just because a company could be free to do so does not mean they would be succesfull in doing so. With the single exception of porn, stores and movies theaters self regulate the distribution of their content based on age.

      I for one argue Porn should also fall into the category of self regulation if any. The restriction of Porn, much like the restriction of alchohol, creates a taboo atmosphere and makes it a strong target for practicin
    • "Couldn't the same argument be made for anything? Movies? Porn? If you get specific about what constitutes imminent violence even guns qualify. In essence, you cannot stop someone from selling anything to anyone because you cannot prove it creates or produces an immanent threat to anyone."

      They're talking about stuff that, for example, incites racial violence, specifically. If you start dispensing stuff that says, for example, "The Jews are responsible for 9/11!" most states will require that you attatch yo
      • They're talking about stuff that, for example, incites racial violence, specifically. If you start dispensing stuff that says, for example, "The Jews are responsible for 9/11!" most states will require that you attatch your name and/or address to it.

        That's news to me. Can you cite some examples?

        "Imminent threat" means "Kill everybody on this list of abortionists."

        Eh, following Brandenburg, it means that the speech in question has to be directed towards inciting or producing imminent lawless action and has t
        • So you example could work, but it depends on the context.

          If I remember right, there was a website that was an execution (no morbid pun intended) of just that example. It was some Anti-abortion domestic terrorist site that had abortion clinic doctor's names, addresses, phone numbers, and even pictures. As doctors were killed, they'd be "ticked" off the list.

          Might be an urban legend though.
  • ESA's reasoning. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AganLex (308537) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @08:26AM (#14173167) Homepage
    From http://www.theesa.com/archives/2005/07/video_game_ indu_1.php [theesa.com]
    "It's illogical that video games would be treated more harshly than R-rated movies or music CDs with parental warning labels, both of which can be legally viewed and sold to minors. We should be treated the same way as those industries." - Douglas Lowenstein, president of the ESA

    It is NOT illegal to sell rated R movies to kids. Most retailers have methods to prevent this from happening. The video game companies aren't trying to get special treatment but rather semi-equal treatment.
  • Now.. (Score:2, Funny)

    by f8l_0e (775982)
    this law will become more powerful than we possibly could have imagined.
  • by Chaffar (670874) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @08:44AM (#14173216)
    I'm shocked to see so many people standing up to defend such a law, thinking it would be the "morally" correct thing to do.

    Remember when you were a teenager & you wanted to buy Mortal Kombat for your Sega Genesis/SNES? Imagine if the guy behind the counter would tell you that you can't: "you're too young". You're 16, you're allowed to drive in some places, but you can't play Mortal Kombat... I know I have played ultra-violent games, I grew up playing them, I enjoyed them. But I also played games like Civ, Transport Tycoon, Populous etc... I graduated from high school and university with the highest honors. Yet I enjoy blood in games.

    For all of you above 20 who probably did play these games just as much as me, remember, you were a teenager once too, and I don't think you would've appreciated it if a law would ban you from playing such games. It's so ironic that parents do the dumbest things when they are young (i.e smoke pot, play lame games with no educational value whatsoever) and grow up to become uptight pricks. "We don't want them to do the same mistakes we did...". I'm not condoning the "everything goes" attitude of some parents today, but focus on the things that are actually IMPORTANT, like pushing him to excel in school, grow up to be a respectable and responsible adult, not to avoid "the fruits of the devil" or whatever you feel like calling these things...

    Besides, if you're THAT concerned about your child's safety, by him a Ninendo :D [yes I know, flamebait].

  • The law is the law (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Saturday December 03, 2005 @08:57AM (#14173252) Homepage Journal
    And the law says that Congress can make no law preventing freedom of expression or speech. As long as the expression does not do direct physical harm to someone or their property, it isn't illegal. A video game IS a form of expression -- art.

    These laws (all of them) are merely instruments of governments in order to tell people "We're doing something!" What are they doing? They're replacing parents' responsibility.

    Should a 12 year old be able to buy beer? Honestly, leave it up to individual cities (or better yet, the parents) to decide. Should a 12 year old be able to buy porn? Again, it is for the cities (and individuals) to decide. A State is too all-encompassing to allow the trials and tests that a free market offers. In Europe last I went, preteens were able to pick up beer and cigarettes for their parents. Retailers weren't held responsible for carding or anything as rights-infringing as we have in the States.

    I live in Illinois and I hope we continue to see these laws shut down. It is just a political ploy to increase government's power while reporting it as positive for the citizen base. Citizens today are too irresponsible and too mentally restricted to understand that we all have responsibilities, parents especially, to monitor what is used in our households. It is not government's problem.
    • by Bazman (4849) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @09:10AM (#14173299) Journal
      Not in this part of Europe! In the UK, sales of cigs and booze to under-agers is a serious offence. The police have recently been cracking down on this sort of thing with assorted sting operations in pubs and shops.

      The right for kids to buy beer stops and my puke-covered pavement.

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @09:03AM (#14173277) Homepage Journal

    Its illegal to sell porn to minors. Video game content should be treated no differently.

    Until you are an adult, your rights *are* limited. ( as they should be ).

    Sure, the concept of 'adult' is arbitrary, but you have to draw a line somewhere, its the law of averages that is used. ( anyone remember the bell curve? )
    • Until you are an adult, your rights *are* limited. ( as they should be ).

      And even after you are an adult your rights are limited. If you want to draw a line, draw one line and draw it clearly. Why can't an adult drink alcohol?

      I was a kid once and I remember this shit clearly. And I hate ALL OF YOU for it. You're sofa king retarded. If it was up to me I'd deny YOU all your constitutional rights for the rest of your life. What do you think about that?

      I'm voting against the constitution until you freaks
  • Many of you have already commented that certain video games should under the same "regulatory standards" as cigarettes, alcohol, and pornography under the guise that it's there to protect the children. Protect the children from what? Real life? These laws do not really teach our children anything at all. From their eyes, it's sending the message "you can't have that". When they ask "why", most people use the crutch statement "because it's against the law". What a stupid answer. Tell them the real reason
  • Remeber bulliten boards, way before the day when everyone had internet? I would guess at the peak of the BBS popularity is when the first shareware version of DOOM came out.

    I was a sysop back then,and we had a local group in our city of about 30 BBSes that met once a month to discuss everything from LD chrges to the latest hacker activity.

    DOOM caused a real sensation. Every sysop had his own copy, but we were all at a quandry where to offer it for download. Would it offend parents if we let children down
  • There aren't a lot of minors on Slashdot who play video games are there? They might add a little bias to the responses here.
  • I don't want to argue against this, but the same argument, if valid, should also allow kids to buy porn in other forms such as videos and magazines. Are THEIR first amendment rights any less in need of protecting?
  • by inkless1 (1269) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @11:47AM (#14173852) Homepage
    I don't want to argue against this, but the same argument, if valid, should also allow kids to buy porn in other forms such as videos and magazines.

    They have tried to compare video games to porn in the past, but it didn't pass the ethical/moral muster to be classified as such ... except when in cases when the game is porn believe. Pornographic games are regulated just like a Playboy, so no new law is required.

    Essentially video games are a form of expression and therefore free speech. Instituting potential financial harm on people who might sell these games causes market pressure to make less risky game. Hence, a violation of free speech.

    So they aren't framing this as a free speech issue, or at least they are trying not to frame it as such. They are framing it as a public health issue. In recent interview with old Rob B, he directly compared video games to cigarretes and alcohol (as well as pornography). So basically, having failed the porn test ... they want to try porn that will kill you.

    No kidding. The argument is that violent video games will make violent children who will turn to violent crime, so that it is in the society's best interest to curtail this at the source.

    The fact that there is no scientific basis for that argument hasn't stopped the supporters from saying there is. This is equivalent of banning cell phones for kids because they might get brain damage when they are thirty. It makes perfect sense, except it's completely wrong.

    Not to mention that this is a solution for a problem that does not exist. There is no epidemic of children buying violent games. There is a trend of parents buying violent games for their kids. So even if this law had logic and facts on it's side, which it doesn't, it would do no good at to solving the problem.

    The only thing this law does is pay some lawyers and get some politicians some press to indicate that they care about kids.

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