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Friday, March 31, 2006

The Lies On Capitol Hill

Congress is busying itself with the People's Business ... namely protecting us from non-existent threats. From the GameSpot article, it sounds like quite the parade:

The last speaker at the hearing was Kevin Saunders, a Professor of Law at Michigan State University. In his own words, Saunders has "spent the last dozen years studying the constitutional issues surrounding attempts to limit the access of children to depictions of extreme violence and other negative media influences."

In Saunders' opinion, "there are bases on which restrictions may overcome First Amendment limits and protect children from the dangers these products present." The first basis the professor cited "is to argue that sufficiently violent material, particularly when presented to children, may come within the obscenity exception to the First Amendment." After mentioning an Indiana case in which this approach worked, he also mentioned that the Supreme Court has never ruled that violent material cannot be restricted.

Saunders' second legal basis will likely prove the most troubling to gamers. This approach would argue that "is that video game play, like the play of pinball machines, is not an activity protected by the First Amendment." It would legally differentiate the expression of a game designer, which would be protected, from the playing of games, which would not be. As an example, he compared a sexually provocative dancer's movements, which is a performance and therefore expression, to a gamer playing in an arcade, which is not, even though others were watching him.

The last legal basis Saunders cited will be the most familiar--namely, that playing violent games causes "harm" to minors. He said this approach is the easiest, due to the "overwhelming consensus of the health and science community that media violence causes real world violence." After citing a psychological study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, he then claimed that "the correlation of media violence with real world violence is as strong as that for second hand smoke and lung cancer, lead exposure in children and lower IQs, use of the nicotine patch and smoking cessation, and asbestos exposure and cancer of the larynx."
-- Views clash at Senate game hearing

Saunder's first and second arguments have been smacked down in courts. Repeatedly. His third is either simply inaccurate or dishonest.

Apparently the first witness was Reverend Steve Stickland, whose brother was killed by Devin Moore. Strickland is a big fan of Jack Thompson and hopes to win huge financial gains from the game industry in compensation from his brother's death. So it's good that they are keeping this non-biased.

Once again, remember - violent crime is down. Most gamers these days are adults. Most video game purchases are made by adults.

But let's see how much money the government can spend saving people from certain nothing.

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