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You'll hear a little of this and lot of that on Light On Light Through - my reviews of great television series, my interviews with authors and creative media people and their interviews of me, my political commentary, thoughts about my favorite cars and food and space travel, discussions of my music, and a few of my readings from my science fiction stories. These are usually audio and a few are video.  In the first years, starting in 2006, I put up a new episode at least once a month.  More recently, it became more or less often than once a month, usually a lot less often.  But in the Fall of 2018, I began getting more in the mood to podcast, and you can expect new episodes now at least once a month.  - Paul Levinson

Videogamers Beware: Hillary's Not On Your Side

Sep 1, 2007



The U.K's Guardian just reminded me of something I already knew, which has crucial relevance both to video gamers and the current Presidential campaign:

Hillary Clinton is no friend of video gaming. In fact, along with Senators Lieberman, Johnson, and Bayh, she proudly introduced the Family Entertainment Protection Act in November, 2005. The Wikipedia entry explains that this law if enacted would have exacted "fines of $1000 dollars or 100 hours of community service for a first time offense of selling a 'Mature' or 'Adult-Only' rated video game to a minor, and $5000 or 500 hours for each subsequent offense."

Fortunately, it was not enacted - Congress had more sense than Hillary and her unconstitutionally minded colleagues. Indeed, similar acts in various states had already been struck down as unconstitutional.

Hillary, unfortunately, comes by her disregard for the First Amendment through her husband. Bill Clinton signed the Communications Decency Act into law in 1996. That affront to the freedom of communication carried as much as $2000 and a two-year-in-prison penalty. Fortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court struck that one down.

Bill claimed he figured that act was unconstitutional, too, and the Supreme Court would declare it to be. So ... why did he sign it into law?

Surely he was not unaware of the straightforward Presidential action of not signing a destructive act into law, in the first place?

Bill Clinton and his circumlocutions fortunately can no longer threaten the First Amendment.

But Hillary's now running for President, leading many of the Democratic polls, and unless she explicitly says otherwise, a wise assumption would be that her election as President would bring to our nation steep fines, forced community service, and even jail time for forms of communication clearly protected under the First Amendment.

We all want to protect our children. Trampling on the Constitution is not the way to do it. We can do better than run scared with the likes of Jack Thompson, and the flawed studies he cites. (See my "debate" with Thompson on CNBC last year.)

We have candidates who understand this. Republican candidate Ron Paul has the best record of respecting the Constitution. Democratic candidate Dennis Kucinich is a close second.

I hope the rest of the candidates will follow their leads, and not Hillary's.

Digg!

for more on Bill Clinton and the Communications Decency Act of 1996:  see The Soft Edge: A Natural History and Future of the Information Revolution, pp. 154-160.

See also 15-minute podcast: Violence and Videogames - The Truth


Greg
almost twelve years ago

You know there are parental controls built into consoles that are password protected. So a parent can restrict what THEIR OWN CHILDREN can play. There is no need to give the government the power to raise our children.
Also the rate of kids under 17 that successfully buy M rated games is the same those that buy R rated movies. Considering the game industry has been around for much less than the movie industry I see that the rating system works. Unless you also want to take movies, music, and tv to task. Because they would be next anyways.

Tom
almost twelve years ago

I was thinking that your argument sounded a little silly - business-as-usual victim-complex nerd stuff - but I\\\'m grateful to you for taking a whole 3 comments before you had to make the Nazi Germany comparison. Nice work!

Paul Levinson
almost twelve years ago

Nytr8 - just because you think that young minds are \\\"impressionable\\\" - or because maybe you\\\'re right (or wrong) that your mind was - doesn\\\'t mean that, in fact, children\\\'s can be influenced in the way you suppose. The scientific evidence, in fact, proves nothing of the sort. See my discussion of causation and correlation in the Jack Thomspon link I provided in my post above.

Tom: just because someone dresses up a lame observation with the name \\\"law\\\" does not make it so.

Here are the facts: philosophers like Karl Popper (The Open Society and its Enemies), scholars devoted to the study of propaganda (such as the Institute for Propaganda Analysis) gave serious study to how Nazi Germany arose and practiced its destruction of democracy. Both of the sources strongly recommend - as do many others - that we in the present be ever vigilant for shifts to the totalitarian road. These often start, by the way, as attacks on \\\"indecent\\\" communication, or the need to protect children from immortal information - and lead to political censorship, and worse.

So, if I were you, I\\\'d wake up and smell the coffee. The Family Entertainment Protection Act was a serious, totalitarian move. If you doubt it, rather than bandying around nonsensical terms, try reading a little history and analysis.

Ivan
almost twelve years ago

Why are you so obsessed with the constitution anyway?

You get fined if you sell tobacco to a minor, why should video games be any different? Bizarre argument. This has nothing to do with Jack Thompson either, he\\\'s a deranged lunatic on a mission to ban violent computer games altogether.

I ask you, what is the real reason why you\\\'re anti Hillary? God knows it\\\'s not her stance on children not getting violent video games. Digg, bury this trash.

Paul Levinson
almost twelve years ago

Ivan: if you study history - or are even aware of it - you\\\'d see that totalitarian societies such as Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union started and ran on control of communication.

That\\\'s why the First Amendment is so important - it prevents the government from shutting down our communication - which is what we may need to point out wrongdoing, problems, actions of government we do not agree with. That\\\'s what democracy is all about.

Tobacco is a physically addictive substance. It is entirely different from video games, which are a form of information or communication. Tobacco is not protected by the First Amendment. Videogames are.

Before you call someone\\\'s opinion \\\"trash,\\\" do yourself a favor and do a little reading (and thinking). It may help you understand the issues you\\\'re addressing.

Daniel: my view is that universal health care is important, but it\\\'s not worth giving up our democratic freedoms - which is what trampling on the First Amendment would do.

Paul Levinson
almost twelve years ago

The rest of the Republicans are worse than the worst of the Democrats - that\\\'s what makes Ron Paul such an important candidate.

Jeremy
almost twelve years ago

this article is total nonsense. The only justification for the nastier end of the spectrum on video games is the fact that when anyone complains about them, their supporters claim back that they are only for consenting adults. Now gamers are arguing that keeping this torture porn out of the hands of minors is somehow wrong?

You don\\\'t even know what you are talking about here. The constitution is not violated because we are talking about *minors* here. Get it? And you idiots wonder why no one ever cares about your opinion. Perhaps when you pass the age of 14 you might understand these things.

Paul Levinson
almost twelve years ago

Jeremy: where did you get the idea that the Constitution does not apply to minors? Also, the rights of adults are being infringed upon, if they can be sentenced to community service for selling video games.

wagonmaker
almost twelve years ago

And the rest of the Republican pack?