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.
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