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Victory for common sense

April 4th, 2006 . by Matt

grand theft auto
The cause of all society’s problems with violence?

It seems that the Michigan state law prohibiting sale of ‘violent video games’ to minors has been struck down. One of the targets of the law is Grand Theft Auto 3, a ‘violent video game’ that has become the scapegoat for actual, real crime in society that politicians refuse to come to grips with.

From the Washington Post –

DETROIT — A federal judge has ruled that a Michigan law that bars retailers from selling or renting violent video games to minors is unconstitutional.

The Entertainment Software Association, Video Software Dealers Association and Michigan Retailers Association, trade groups representing U.S. computer and video game publishers, filed a lawsuit in September, charging that the law is unconstitutionally vague and limits First Amendment rights.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed the law in September, and it was scheduled to take effect Dec. 1. But U.S. District Judge George Steeh issued a preliminary injunction in November, putting the law on hold.

Steeh’s ruling on Friday made the injunction permanent.

“Video games contain creative, expressive free speech, inseparable from their interactive functional elements, and are therefore protected by the First Amendment,” he said in his ruling.

Douglas Lowenstein, president of the Entertainment Software Association, applauded the judge’s decision in a statement, saying it “represents a sweeping rejection of the state’s claims regarding the harmful effects of violent video games.”

I will be convinced about the dangers of so-called ‘violent video games’ only after they stop children from being exposed to actual, real violence in society. In fact, the second most dangerous city in America is Detroit in the state of Michigan, and has been from long, long before any violent video games were even invented.

Worse, these politicians must be either clueless or malign, because students in Detroit are exposed to violence and the fear of violence every time they go to school. Checks with metal detectors in every middle and high school in Detriot reinforces this in the minds of children every day. How is a video game supposed to make this situation worse? I think the children are perfectly capable of separating fantasy and reality, something which seems beyond the ability of the censorious.

Of course, why should an Australian care about what happens in a place like Michigan? The reason is that it sets a precedent and gives hope to the censorious contingent here. Unfortunately, unlike the great, free United States of America, Australia offers no guarantee of free speech – indeed, not only is there no guarantee of free speech here, there are legislated restrictions to speech.

I think the American people are lucky to have the constitution protecting their interests. I wish that Australians would embrace a similar guarantee, but unfortunately, we Australians are in the habit of accepting second best.

2 Responses to “Victory for common sense”

  1. comment number 1 by: Malaclypse

    Here’s a question for you- should they outlaw the sale of flight simulator software?

    There are a lot of flight sim programs out there that are very very good. For instance, X-Plane is so realistic that it is certified by the FAA- use it with a well-crafted joystrick and throttle combo and you’ve got a viable platform for learning to fly an airplane.

    Of course, terrorists could use these for training purpose. Perhaps we should outlaw these games? Or at least have the government require the companies that publish these games to install rootkit software that spies on their user and sends various data to the government?

  2. comment number 2 by: dogbert

    Nice piece, I couldn’t agree more.