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The Courts Government News Entertainment Games

Ban On Louisiana Video Game Law Now Permanent 186

Carl Carlson writes "A Louisiana judge has issued a permanent injunction against a Louisiana law banning the sale of violent video games to minors. The law was crafted by video game dilettante Jack Thompson and took a slightly different approach to the issue of regulating video game sales. Rep. Roy Burrell (R) and Jack Thompson had research that purported to show a causative link between playing violent video games and real-world violence entered into the legislative record in an attempt to buttress the legislation's shaky credentials. In addition, the law adapted the Miller obscenity test to the realm of violent video games."
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Ban On Louisiana Video Game Law Now Permanent

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  • Woot! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Kingrames ( 858416 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @09:53PM (#17043476)
    We win!
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @10:08PM (#17043610)
      One can never "win" when it comes to situations like these. It takes eternal vigilance to ensure that future legislation is not passed that has many of the same restrictions as this struck-down law has.

      The moment you think you've "won", that's the moment you're most vulnerable.

      • by Kingrames ( 858416 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @11:35PM (#17044416)
        You mean, like at the end of Return of the Jedi, when the rebels and ewoks were all celebrating and dancing and whatnot while the wreckage of the Death Star II was burning up in the atmosphere, destroying the entire supply of breathable air? ...crap.
      • It takes eternal vigilance to ensure that future legislation is not passed that has many of the same restrictions as this struck-down law has.

        yeah, but the more these laws get struck down in various states, the easier it is to strike them down elsewhere because the precedent is set.
    • Re:Woot! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @10:09PM (#17043618)
      And by "we", you of course mean the organization whose lawyers got the bill struck down, namely the Entertainment Software Association, whose members include Vivendi/Universal (hello RIAA), Microsoft (Who do you want to screw today?), Sony (this rootkit might sting a little), and Electronic Arts (nuff sed).

      Mmmmmm, ironyburger.
    • I believe the technical term for such matters is "LOL, PWNED!".
    • by Duds ( 100634 )
      I disagree, I think it's very difficult to argue against a ban on sales TO MINORS. That's not censorship, that's just letting parents do their job.

      Of course the flip side to allowing this is that you need to allow anything in an adult rated game.

      People think the current American games law protects them from censorship when in fact it has the opposite affect. Fahrenheit (Indigo Propherchy) and Grand Theft Auto : San Andreas are just two of the games you can only buy in cut down form in America whereas in B
  • Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by alexjohnc3 ( 915701 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @09:58PM (#17043524) Homepage
    The fact that it became a law in the first place is kind of disturbing. Why should a judge even have to bother stopping this? Well, at least everything turned out good in the end, especially since Jack Thompson is probably pissed off that his attempts at stopping people from accessing anything that is at all violent have failed once again.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by eonlabs ( 921625 )
      At this point Jack Thompson is making such a public ass of himself that its pushing the government to build some interesting techie legislation. I bet that the laws that are passed or banned now in response to Yack are going to provide some interesting obstacles for future laws that actually could have meant something.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I bet that the laws that are passed or banned by the non technical legislature and non technical judiciary will not interfere with them passing other laws that can and probably will contradict the earlier ones. See the Constitution vs. the Government for more on that one. The problem with laws in general is not that the Hammuribian system of codification is flawed, but that the people who want to be in control and make the laws are by definition greedy and power hungry, and therefore are the least qualified
    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by aussie_a ( 778472 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @10:38PM (#17043882) Journal
      Why should a judge even have to bother stopping this?
      Because your politicians have bought into Thompson's propaganda.
    • by donaldm ( 919619 )
      Even though I am not an American I do sympathise because other countries do have lawmakers continually trying to bring in laws for what they perceive as the "public good" (I am being nice here) even though to the average person the new or proposed law is stupid, unworkable or just another step in reducing basic human rights.

      There is a saying which in many ways is even more relevant today. "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance", since the motto for some lawmakers or lobbyists is, "if at first you don't
    • Modern American politics -- and presumably in other countries -- is at least partly predicated on the idea that politicians propose stupid laws that sound attractive to stupid people, to get elected, and then when those stupid laws are overturned on constitutional ground by the judges, the politicians are freed of any responsibility, so retain their popularity with the stupid people.
  • by Brill ( 691333 ) <> on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @09:59PM (#17043528)
    Too young to buy a game, but old enough to join the army?
    • by ArcherB ( 796902 )
      Actually, you would need to be 18 to buy the game or have your parent's permission (they buy it for you), just as you have to be 18 to join the army without your parents permission.

      • So the idea is that a child at 16 can drive a freakin' motor vehicle but cannot play a violent video game?


        They could just act out their violent fantasys with the auto...mow down a bunch of Wal*Mart shoppers in the parking lot and you'll get a lesser sentence than if you used a gun or knife!

        Lucky for us, that rarely happens.

  • by Dr. Eggman ( 932300 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @10:03PM (#17043566)
    Wow, that's a confusing title, a ban on a law made permanent. At first I read it as the law banning [certain] video games was now perminent. Then, after I cleaned up after the spit-take, I read it as a permanent video game law [as in constitutional amendment] being banned. Took three tries to read it as a video game law being banned permanently.

    Did they pull that thing out of a software licence or am I just sleep deprived?
  • Title Misleading (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @10:10PM (#17043630)
    Not only is the Slashdot article misleading, but so is the Ars Technica article!

    They make it sound like the ban was legit.
  • by dt_aybabtu ( 1028796 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @10:10PM (#17043632)
    Way to go for Louisiana yet again...why worry about protecting the state from flooding when you can "protect the kids" and pass bad legislation.
  • by Five Bucks! ( 769277 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @10:15PM (#17043688)
    Holy shit! What the fuck is that? Jesus... []

  • Tired... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lazycam ( 1007621 )
    Is anyone else tired of people attacking our freedom of speech and expression? I for one am glad the courts are still on our side. Separation of powers at work.
    • The courts are on the side of whichever party has more money. In this case, the Video Games industry is worth $7 billion US, though sales in Louisiana are I imagine only a small fraction of that.
  • by edwardpickman ( 965122 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @10:22PM (#17043752)
    Vegitales and Barney do far more damage than violent video games. I've never been disturbed by any video game ever but Barney freaks they hell out of me. Could you imagine the damage Vegitales could do if the viewer happened to have just dropped acid? We just need to ban the right things. Overly religious vegitables and purple blob dinosaurs would be at the top of my list. Drunks used to see pink elephants. What do you have to take to see purple dinosaurs? These are dangerous people producing dangerous and disturbing products. They must be stopped!
  • by wolf_lord2002 ( 1033644 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @10:28PM (#17043778)
    Yet another attempt to stop young people from buying violent video games. And why? Because it is making them violent... What a load of garbage, GAMES are for entertainment purposes and granted some take them too seriously... like my Neverwinter Nights addiction. BUT the point is that you can't keep blaming violence in society on games, and if a child buys a game that their parents deem 'too violent' why don't the parents take it away from them?? There are too many violent influences, but in the end it is the responsibility of the individual to decide if they are going to shoot someone in real life or not. So, let's stop passing the buck and take responsibility for our own actions. Next thing we will hear is someone wanting control of games such as 'World Poker Tournament' because it MADE them have a gambling problem.
    • by ArcherB ( 796902 )
      Did your parents know everything you were doing at 13? Didn't you have a hiding spot your 'rents didn't know about? Hell, I was smoking pot at 13, you think I couldn't sneak out a buy a video game without their knowledge?

      You say it the parent's responsibility, and you are correct. Why not make the parents decide if their kids can have this game or not?
  • Super mirrors (Score:3, Informative)

    by marko123 ( 131635 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @10:40PM (#17043896) Homepage
    There looks like there could be a link between what we see on media and our actions, and the mirroring of the behaviour we see may not necessarily even be conscious. Tell me this effect would be lessened during the playing of an actual game. I want to believe it doesn't have an effect, but...

    (From, [] )
    Neuroscientist; Director, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Lab, UCLA

    Media Violence Induces Imitative Violence: The Problem With Super Mirrors

    Media violence induces imitative violence. If true, this idea is dangerous for at least two main reasons. First, because its implications are highly relevant to the issue of freedom of speech. Second, because it suggests that our rational autonomy is much more limited than we like to think. This idea is especially dangerous now, because we have discovered a plausible neural mechanism that can explain why observing violence induces imitative violence. Moreover, the properties of this neural mechanism -- the human mirror neuron system -- suggest that imitative violence may not always be a consciously mediated process. The argument for protecting even harmful speech (intended in a broad sense, including movies and videogames) has typically been that the effects of speech are always under the mental intermediation of the listener/viewer. If there is a plausible neurobiological mechanism that suggests that such intermediate step can be by-passed, this argument is no longer valid.

    For more than 50 years behavioral data have suggested that media violence induces violent behavior in the observers. Meta-data show that the effect size of media violence is much larger than the effect size of calcium intake on bone mass, or of asbestos exposure to cancer. Still, the behavioral data have been criticized. How is that possible? Two main types of data have been invoked. Controlled laboratory experiments and correlational studies assessing types of media consumed and violent behavior. The lab data have been criticized on the account of not having enough ecological validity, whereas the correlational data have been criticized on the account that they have no explanatory power. Here, as a neuroscientist who is studying the human mirror neuron system and its relations to imitation, I want to focus on a recent neuroscience discovery that may explain why the strong imitative tendencies that humans have may lead them to imitative violence when exposed to media violence.

    Mirror neurons are cells located in the premotor cortex, the part of the brain relevant to the planning, selection and execution of actions. In the ventral sector of the premotor cortex there are cells that fire in relation to specific goal-related motor acts, such as grasping, holding, tearing, and bringing to the mouth. Surprisingly, a subset of these cells -- what we call mirror neurons -- also fire when we observe somebody else performing the same action. The behavior of these cells seems to suggest that the observer is looking at her/his own actions reflected by a mirror, while watching somebody else's actions. My group has also shown in several studies that human mirror neuron areas are critical to imitation. There is also evidence that the activation of this neural system is fairly automatic, thus suggesting that it may by-pass conscious mediation. Moreover, mirror neurons also code the intention associated with observed actions, even though there is not a one-to-one mapping between actions and intentions (I can grasp a cup because I want to drink or because I want to put it in the dishwasher). This suggests that this system can indeed code sequences of action (i.e., what happens after I grasp the cup), even though only one action in the sequence has been observed.

    Some years ago, when we still were a very small group of neuroscientists studying mirror neurons and we were just starting investigating the role of mirror neurons in intention understanding, we discussed the possi
    • Re:Super mirrors (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Yartrebo ( 690383 ) on Thursday November 30, 2006 @12:20AM (#17044754)
      Why is it always assumed that adults are somehow immune to the effects of violent games/TV/movies while kids will be horribly warped by it?

      Personally, I feel that there is some truth to the nasty media -> bad effects meme, but it effects adults too, and the type of content is far more important than rough metrics like violent scenes per hour.

      My gut feeling is that verbal violence (which usually does not involve curse words) and displays of disrespect have a far greater impact on people. It's both far more prevalent and much easier to imitate/believe than physical violence. "Saved by the Bell" is quite likely to bend many teenagers' beliefs towards conformity (more rigid gender roles, more focus on social rank, etc.). "Pokemon" has bent many kids towards materialist/consumerist views. "Star Trek: The Next Generation", despite showing people die and other forms of violence, is unlikely to engender either pro-violence/pro-militarist or antisocial behavior. Even "Power Rangers" probably has fairly muted effects since it's pretty devoid of any real substance.
      • Even "Power Rangers" probably has fairly muted effects since it's pretty devoid of any real substance.

        I'm always amazed at the number of people that believe violence has no effect on children. I'm not sure if this is mass ignorance or willful action to ignore what's obvious to anyone that cares to look. We had to stop our children from watching Power Rangers because our oldest would start beating the crap out of our youngest immediately after watching that show...almost every time. The preferred method o
    • by cliffski ( 65094 )
      Glad to see someone else thinking it may have an effect. I love video games, heck, I make them for a living (check the sig), and I mow down a lot of people in Battlefield 2. I'm pretty sure it *does* affect me though. Of course it does. How can we accept that a passive visual medium (advertising) massively affects the population as a whole (not only is it economically clear this is true, but I advertise myself and know it works), but assert that an interactive visual medium that often gives rewards for viol
  • by jimhill ( 7277 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @10:42PM (#17043918) Homepage
    I don't play video games but I'd say a convincing argument can be made that playing violent games doesn't turn people into violent offenders. Namely, that none of these people has mowed down ol' Jack with a bazooka or GTO.
    • It's really quite simple. There hasn't been violent video games since the year dot and yet times past were much more violent then now. Or are people going to try to claim that Ghengis Khan and Adolf Hitler played violent video games? Now myself, I play violent video games and yet you'll be hard pressed to find someone less violent then me. I imagine there are many people like myself.
  • by Beefysworld ( 1005767 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @10:44PM (#17043944)
    Ok, I'm one of the many anti-Jack Thompson people around... I can't stand the way in which he is going about his 'crusade' against video games. However, is enforcing game classifications in regards to selling to minors such a bad thing? Seeing as many people (read: parents) don't seem to have much control or responsibility over what their kids are buying / doing, perhaps it's time that the retail sector did enforce these things.

    Here in Australia, kids are asked for identification when they are purchasing alcohol or cigarettes, or when they go to an MA15+ or R18+ rated movie... why not carry that over to games? If a parent is happy for a kid to have the game, then they can go and buy it for them.
    • by Shados ( 741919 )
      It might be, if games were rated well. As it is now, a videogame with content that would -barely- make a movie PG13, gets a flat M rating. I mean come on, Prince of Persia: Two Thrones is M. Thats rediculous.
      • by Firehed ( 942385 )
        Indeed. The battling I've experienced in Zelda:TP (T) is surpassed by some animated Disney movies (G). Only the most realistically violent FPS games I've played are even comparable to what's on the news some nights - while I agree that they should be rated M, I think some news stories are worthy of an R rating (or MA for television I guess; I never watch TV so don't know the ratings well). Having said that, I don't really care for the idea of parents V-chipping out the news (as if anyone uses those thing
    • My issue (which extends to movies and TV too) is that every person has different values. In particular, mine aren't terribly typical and I find the rating systems to be quite poor.

      In my view, "Pokemon" should get an R rating, mostly for its highly effective pro-materialist content. The trouble caused to parents, schools, and society at large far outweighs any entertainment value.
    • by Surt ( 22457 )
      In the US we have very strong feelings about erosion of the freedom of speech.
      That's why our movie rating system is only voluntarily enforced by the theaters, not legally enforced.
      We'd be perfectly content to have all stores voluntarily enforce the ratings system, but no store in the US is going to be the first mover on that issue and lose all their sales.
    • Because in the USA, NO ratings on entertainments are government enforced. From videogames to film, they are all voluntary systems that the industries enforce. Because of this, singling out videogames is simply a moral panic like previous ones over rock and roll and other things. Because no other ratings for entertainment are government enforced, to single out games would require a mountain of incontravertable evidence which simply doesn't exist.
  • Or does anyone else here want to stalk Jack Thompson and everytime you see him whip out some violent video game and play it until he leaves? better yet.. bring along my 5 year old and call of duty 2 hehe.
  • I'd love to be able to write an opinion to a few papers in the state, reminding everyone to thank our legislature for the unanimous (wasn't it?) approval of this clear violation of the Constitution that will cost the state to spend money when we can least afford frivolous expenditures, and mocking the "Think of the children!" crowd.
  • by Peyna ( 14792 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @11:08PM (#17044160) Homepage
    Permanent injunction does not mean "forever." It is simply an injunction granted after a complete hearing on the merits, as opposed to a preliminary injunction, which is granted before a trial if you show a "reasonable likelihood of success" and other things, like irreparable harm.

  • Make love, not war (Score:5, Interesting)

    by swell ( 195815 ) <jabberwock.poetic@com> on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @11:09PM (#17044170)
    Am I the only one who thinks it odd that children can enjoy all the murder and mayhem that the entertainment industry can dump on them, but god forbid they should see a bare breast!

    Is this part of a military conspiracy that wants them for cannon fodder, and fears that a healthy sex drive might make children avoid the latest Republican adventures overseas?
    • by ArcherB ( 796902 )
      Am I the only one who thinks it odd that children can enjoy all the murder and mayhem that the entertainment industry can dump on them, but god forbid they should see a bare breast!

      Is this part of a military conspiracy that wants them for cannon fodder, and fears that a healthy sex drive might make children avoid the latest Republican adventures overseas?

      I agree with you, but as a Republican, I can tell you that this is not a Republican thing. Don't be a troll and blame everything you don't like on Republi
      • by Hatta ( 162192 )
        Wasn't it Tipper Gore that started this whole thing in the 80's. I had no idea she was a Republican.

        Democrats == republicans. There's only one party in this country, and you're a fool if you think anything will really change after the last election.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by NATIK ( 836405 )
      The "Zomg nakid peeple r scary" way of thought is pretty much american, here in Denmark we can see naked people in movies and series on public tv in the primetime quite often and no one complains, we save the hardcore stuff for after midnight but the rest is shown at all times of day. I think you can thank the religious crowd for removing all things involving naked people from your tv. Again here in denmark religion is not widely practiced, it is mostly older people (as in around 70 years old or more) and
  • After last year, when the state was smushed by God's finger of Doom, why would this even be on the radar? Why would anyone care? I can't believe that anyone is spending any energy or oxygen on something like this.

  • by fuego451 ( 958976 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2006 @11:38PM (#17044436) Journal

    Cnn's Dr. Sanjay Gupta has a blog [] entry on a new study done by the American Academy of Pediatrics which says there is a correlation between violent video games and violent behavior.

    From the article:

    Now, for the first time, a study has probed deep in the brain to figure out what is really happening when teenagers play these violent video games. Researchers found that teenagers who played particularly violent video games showed more activation in an area of the brain called the amygdala. This is an area responsible for conflict response and emotional arousal.

    Unfortunately the post is pretty short on details and there are no links to the study. Interesting too that Dr. Gupta'a post was referring to 'children' but the tests were done on teenagers. I don't equate teenagers with children.

    • by aussie_a ( 778472 ) on Thursday November 30, 2006 @12:55AM (#17045108) Journal
      Cnn's Dr. Sanjay Gupta has a blog entry on a new study done by the American Academy of Pediatrics which says there is a correlation between violent video games and violent behavior.
      Of course there is. Violent people like to play violent video games. That doesn't mean a violent video game will make someone violent, they're violent before they play the video game.
    • There's a book called "Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill : A Call to Action Against TV, Movie and Video Game Violence", which will cite some studies for you. It's the same author who wrote On Killing, which I mention in this post []. That book, too, has some interesting statistics that might surprise you.

      I am not advocating legislation as a way of dealing with violent video games, but it certainly makes sense to study the effects of them a bit more so that whatever decisions we do make are based on actual data an
  • Just stop selling things to minors. Problem solved.

egrep -n '^[a-z].*\(' $ | sort -t':' +2.0