Prez Hopeful Romney Continues to Push Video Game Issue

July 20, 2007 -
Following the release of a new TV ad on Monday, the Mitt Romney campaign has been hitting the video game content issue hard this week, most notably during a swing through Colorado.

A new press release lays out a Romney theme "protecting our children." Following along the lines of the "ocean of filth" TV spot, the campaign pledge says in regard to video games:
Governor Romney Will Punish And Fine Retailers For Selling Excessively Violent And Sexually Explicit Video Games To Minors. 

While the current system of voluntary self-regulation of video games has improved, we still need to do more to protect our children.  There must be strong punishments and fines for retailers that sell violent and sexually explicit video games to minors. 

GP: We're not quite sure what Romney is saying here. While he gives props to the strides made by the ESRB, he's clearly advocating retail sales legislation. Does he have a secret plan to circumvent the constitutional issues that have sunk every other such attempt?
 

Comments

check out this terribly racist, ignorant comment about obama. I can't believe people can actually think politically like this! http://www.mypetpeeves.com/plog/index.php/archives/2519

I'm reminded of the South Park episode "Cartoon Wars" whereas the press act as the politicians and the president as everyone else.

@cwpete

He did, in fact, raise taxes, but not how you would notice them if you didn't live in MA. Fees were how he taxed people without actually raising taxes.
Also, $1.3 billion came in through no effort of his own. Sure, he can balance the budget, but expect to see cuts in higher education (thus raising state taxes and fees), environmental upkeep (thus raising state taxes), and federal aid to states (thus raising state and city taxes).

I'm not sure what you consider important, but I'm going to take a stab that you consider legislating morality a good use of tax money.

On the flip side, at least he'll have a valid excuse for spending his time away from the place he's supposed to be running.

"I think this entire argument boils down to freedom of speech verses obscenities. Since freedom of speech is restricted to minors when obscenities are involved, the question now becomes are some M-rated games “obscene”?"

Hate to tell you this, but your personal opinion is not the best standard for what is and is not obscene. As far as obscenity laws go, the only true standard for determining what is obscenity and what isn't is the Miller Test: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miller_Test

Now, attempts have been made by legislators to force games through the Miller Test. However, all of those attempts were struck down as unconstitutional. Why? There are many reasons, but one of the biggest is the trouble in rewriting the second prong of the test. Since "sexual conduct" or "execretory functions" would not apply to a solely violent game, legislators have tried coming up with new terms, such as "excessive brutality" or the like.

The problem here is, these terms are inherently vauge because, unlike copulation, the level of violence in media is ambiguous and dependent entierly on context. For example, if I told you of a game where you jump on your enemies heads to crush them back into their bodies and then kick their carcasses at other enemies, would you say it is obscenly violent? Would you think the same thing if I told you I was talking about Super Mario Bros. (jumping on Koopas and kicking their shells)? That's the problem with these bills. Their language is always so vauge the could be used to restrict plenty of kid-friendly games, because all of them (except puzzle games) contain some degree of violence. Once again, it's all about the context.

I'd also like to point out that, for anything to be considered "obscene," it must pass all three steps. This means that excessive violence or sexuality is not enough for the courts to consider something obscene. It must lack "serious literary, artistic, political, and scientific value." This is the crucial requirement, as it is the only one of the three which does not differ from region to region or from person to person. Under it, I see no games that would pass the first two steps that would fail the third. Even GTA, the whipping-boy of parents like yourself, contains plenty of well-executed satire of our society. Thus, it has liteary, value, and would likely pass the test if it was put under it as is.

To reiterate, while you may personally consider some games "obscene," it is much more complicated to legally make them so. There are simply too many flaws in the "violence=obscenity" argument to restrict violent games that way.

In other news (sorry for off topic)
Can you beef up your brain with video games?
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19838717/

Yet another case of a politician that doesn't care, but sees that his voters do.

This has been to sent to the Romney for President Campaign:

I am troubled by the stance that Romney has taken regarding video games in his recent press release. The problem I have is that in the same breath, he both praises and condemns the industry. He praises them in their efforst to self regulate, but then tells them that he is going to force them through law to do what they are already trying to do.

I also find it disturbing that he makes no mention of movies or music and efforst to enforce their ratings and content descriptors. According to the recent FTC report ( found at http://www.ftc.gov/reports/violence/070412MarketingViolentEChildren.pdf) in their secret shopper tests, the video game industry had only a 42% failure rate in enforcing the M rating of games. This is a huge improvement over the results of 2003 secret shopper test which resulted in a 69% failure rate.

Meanwhile the movie industry had a 71% failure rate in enforcing the R and unrated movie ratings. This is a marginal improvement from 81% failure rate in 2003.

The FTC after all their tests have praised the game industry in their efforts with suggestions on improving them, but over all they were praised. The FTC then went on to condemn the Movie industry for their lack of effort to enforce movie ratings in the retail scene.

The game industry after receiving the report, thanked the FTC and made promises to take the extra steps proposed to them, while the movie industry has mostly ignored the suggestions made to them.

Why, with such blatant disregard for the FTC report, to you focus solely on games and not movies? Why do you even propose legislation on video games when in no less than 9 state such legislation has been tried and has failed on constitutional grounds and resulted in the loss of millions of tax payer money in legal fees?

I applaud your efforts to protect children from pediphiles and pornography, but I find your stance on video games to be unnecessary.

Instead of legislating games, you should work with the game industry to educate parents in the value of setting standards for their children and enforcing them in a home environment. Education is the key to winning this aspect of the "protect the children" battle.

Mitt Romney: let's double Guantanamo.

By the way, fake violence is totally unacceptable!

Thad, that's what I was thinking.

In addition to the problems already mentioned, this would be doubly unconstitutional under the tenth ammendment. Retail transactions do not fall under congress's congressional purview. States can regulate them. Congress can't. Unless he wanted to do some endrun as with the drinking age where they hold your highway funds unless you make the laws they want, this will never fly.

Ron Paul it is then. :)

I am a parent that believes your child is going to learn all about the "real life" no matter what you do to prevent/hide it from them. I have never kept anything from my child to "protect" them from what the real world is all about. My child plays some of these games with my permission knowing they are simply that...games. Open communication is the key to making the children what they are. If a child thinks video games are what real life is about, then there is more missing there than what meets the eye. I have never let the video games be a babysitter for my child-he is allowed so much time each week and that's it. He earns his right to play based on his hard work in school and around the house. His hard work proves to me what type of person he is and his ability to understand the difference between a game and "real life".
 
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