Yet again lawmakers are attempting to censor video games in ways that directly infringe on First Amendment rights and would not fly in other media.
Now it’s Pennsylvania and our British friends on the other side of the pond who are considering such legislation.
Pennsylvania took the first steps in this direction in 2007 by setting up a task force to study video game violence and potential legislation to address it. The task force released a report in December 2008 that recomended the state NOT pursue any censorship or legislation.
The Children & Youth Committee of the Pennsylvania House held a hearing to explore the issue this week. Game Politics extensively covered the hearing. It appears that some of the representatives were a little irked that the task force didn’t simply confirm their preudices and give them a green light to do what they will.
Violent video games were implied to have a causation with police shootings. The fact that the military sometimes uses games to train officers was mentioned (although military-grade games a specifically designed for that purpose). One rep even suggested a 5 percent tax on violent video games.
So far this seems like it was simply an exercise in civil debate, as Game Politics notes that a violent game tax seems unlikely. But at the same time it is somewhat disconcerting that lawmakers are so quick to jump on the censorship bandwagon and use video games as a scapegoat for greater sociatal ills that their other policies have a far more direct impact on than video games ever will.
On the other side of the pond, where they don’t have the guiding light of the First Amendment, the government is also considering a tax on violent video games.
Richard Taylor, whose son was stabbed to death in 2000 and who now advises Prime Minister Gordon Brown on knife crime, recommended that violent video games be taxed simply because they are too cheap and should be more expensive.
Taylor also criticized American rap music and, “bemoaned the attitude of some young people, who he said “feel that the law has no control over them. They just feel that they can go on the streets and do whatever they like,” he said.”
Not being a British citizen, I can’t really complain or comment on how they want to do business, although I think it ridiculous and counter to the free-market system to tax something simply because you think you know better how it should be priced.
And while I offer my condolences for Mr. Taylor’s loss, it appears as if he is grasping at straws trying to assign blame for the senseless murder of his son.
I am 100 percent against censorship in any form. If government gets a green light to censor violent video games through artificial price controls (taxation), you better believe music, movies, books and newspapers are next.
At the same time I am not saying children should play violent video games. But the responsibility to keep violent or offensive video games away from children rests squarely on the shoulders of parents, the same way it does for violent or offensive music and movies.