A pair of New York State Senators, debating legislation aimed at violent video games, nearly came to blows themselves, reports the Statewide News Service.
According to the story, bill sponsor Sen. Andrew Lanza (R, left) and Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson (D) got into a dust-up about the wording of A8696, Go. Eliot Spitzer's bill which would make selling games featuring "depraved violence" to a minor a felony offense.
From the transcript:
Lanza: The cases that have been struck down have been struck down on the principle that states have attempted to prohibit the sale of video games based upon the speech content, that being violence.
Hassell-Thompson: You’re misreading the case. You’re misreading them. I don’t know whether you’re doing it deliberately or what. It’s frustrating me.
Lanza: I’m not misreading the cases. Those are the cases.
Hassell-Thompson: You’re misreading the cases.
Lanza: Absolutely not Senator. We can agree to disagree on that point.
Hassell-Thompson: You got a battery of attorneys sitting behind you. I’m telling you I wrangled with them 3 out of 5 meetings.
Lanza: Maybe you’re missing something.
Hassell-Thompson: Well, we’re paying them. We should fire them.
Lanza: Let’s just be clear. It makes it a felony to sell video games based upon the speech contained therein. That’s what it does. Now it may pass constitutional muster because the speech that is being regulated therein is pornography, which I might add is already regulated and is already prohibited with its distribution to minors. So you might say the governor’s version accomplishes nothing. I’m not saying that but you might say it.
UPDATE: GP has heard from a source who was present and says that while it was clear that no love was lost between Lanza and Hassell-Thompson, the idea that blows were imminent is overstated.
The source adds:
Senator Hassell-Thompson and other Democrats on the conference committee argued that the Governor's proposal contained is A8696 is constitutional because it requires that the material to be restricted be both violent and obscene. Lanza pointed out that, if that is true, then the bill doesn't regulate anything that is not already regulated under the obscenity law (hence his reference to "pornography") and is meaningless.