Scary Words: Boston Mayor Wants to Lay Down the (Video Game) Law

April 5, 2008 -
Boston news radio station WBZ-1030 has a disturbing interview with Mayor Thomas Menino (left) conducted by on-air personality Laurie Kirby (GP: I can't refer to her as a "reporter" based on the softballs she's tossing to Menino here).

The interview took place on March 17th on the eve of the Massachusetts Legislature's consideration of HB1423. The measure, a video game bill based on the Jack Thompson-authored Louisiana legislation which failed so miserably in federal court in 2006 (see: Judge Trashes Louisiana Government Over Failed Jack Thompson Law, Orders State to Pay Legal Fees), would seek to classify violent video games as "harmful to minors" in the same legal sense as pornography.

Here's the text of the interview (as transcribed by GP). Note that Menino speaks of the proposed law as a "ban" throughout the interview and, amazingly, expresses a desire to enforce a lifestyle change on game players.

He also seems to be bothered by the image of kids playing handheld systems, as he references it at several different points in the interview:

Mayor Menino: ...these video games and violence. And uh, ya know, kids - they play with them, they see them on TV all the times. You know, we gotta take some measures to restrict access to this violence. And everybody's well, the First Amendment, uh, you can't do it because this.

We always can't do something. My measure, let's do something to restrict young people from glorify- from being glorified with this violence. As I look at this, I watch little kids out there with these little video games. There's shootings, there's killings and all that. We've got to do something. Everybody says we can't. I'm saying we can and let's start now. Because there's too much violence on the streets of America, presently, to uh, that is happening.

And so, as Mayor, I just want to put something out there, and let's have a discussion about this. Everybody has a responsibility. I'm taking some of that responsibility, I know it's controversial. But you gotta do something about banning the violence that young people are accustomed to today. And it's a tough battle because they say, it's a First Amendment. But we also have... rights in America to have a safe neighborhoods, safe streets, and safe world. And that's what my discussion will be about - is about safety in our homes, safety in our streets, safety in our worlds.

Announcer: Well it's interesting, because they are bringing up the First Amendment issue here, but what about pornography? I mean there are some - obviously, minors can't buy pornography, so it's not as if there aren't some restrictions  already in place.

Menino: That's right. They put pornography in the back of a room or someplace. Kids can't buy it readily. But you can buy those video games right off the counter without showing any identification at all. And that's part of our efforts is to try to restrict the access to these video games.

Announcer: So... what are you going to do, exactly here, and what woud the language be? You would ask for all Boston stores...?

Menino: Well I have a piece of legislation that will be heard up in the legislature tomorrow. My staff will be testifying on the ban and asking the legislature to put restrictions on the availability of these games and other activities that may enhance a young person's ability to see these, uh, this violence and put it in their hands with the little video games they have there's violence always happening. And it has to be restricted. I mean it's just another way of saying, hey, we all have a responsibility and the video game industry also has a responsibility.

Announcer: Okay, so you would ban the outright sale of any kind of violent video game to what - anybody under the age of 17, or what?

Menino:  18. I'd restrict the sale of video games to anyone under the age of 18.

Announcer: So the store could still sell them, you're just trying to protect the kids.

Menino: That's right. I mean, you start early on. Kids start at 5, 6, 7 years old watching those video games. They think it's a way of life and I'm trying to make them understand there's a different way of life (emphasis GP's) and, uh, as you go about your daily chores, you'll see these kids with the video games in their hands. They'll see it on the TV, see it everyplace you go, there's violence that's out there. If you watched one of our major sporting events last year, every video that was on there, every advertisement had violence in it. Our life is full of violence.

Announcer: You're absolutely right. Now what would the penalty be for a store that didn't card a kid and sold a kid a game?

Menino: We haven't determined what the violence would be, I mean the penalty would be, but we're looking at some serious, serious restriction on the sale of these video games.

Original WBZ audio here: (you'll need to scroll down a bit for the March 17th interview).

Comments

Menino: We haven’t determined what the violence would be, I mean the penalty would be, but we’re looking at some serious, serious restriction on the sale of these video games.

I see Menino's taken some lessons from the ironic punishment division.

Mayor Menino usually tries to look for the quick fix. It's nothing new. I don't expect the legislation to stick.

As for how he speaks: he sounds like one of the people. Really. Especially around the area. I've known quite a few with similar speaking mannerisms along with the unmistakable Bostonian accent. That's how he got voted, and that's how he'll continue to get votes... until gang violence runs him out of town... or kills him.

y'know, I played ultimate mortal kombat 3 on the snes when I was 10 years old, max payne when I was 12, and manhunt when I was 15.

I'm still a normal human being, and I don't come off as a crackpot who's trying to do fatalities on people while doing a daily school shooting for the kicks.

my entire point boils down to:

1) I'm glad I'm canadian
and 2) I pity you US citizens. because someday a religious crackpot will start banning fun in your country...

@ TheMonkey

The only violent handheld game I can think of is Brothers in Arms(DS). It's rated T, making it one of the most violent games on the system.

Was she giving him a blowjob during the interview? It would explain both the softball questions AND the mayor's frequent stuttering.

@illspirit
I said I'll never understand "Americans" for the reasons I stated. I did not mention Menino in specific at all.

And besides, getting rid of guns would be a good thing. Obviously that does not relate to games. Stupid people with stupid ideas can still have some good ones.

The unfortunate truth is that MANY Americans, politicians in particular, are blaming games for violence rather than the fact that guns are EVERYWHERE.

Hell, look a day back at the "God of War blamed for Shooting" story. That says it all really.

Never mind how the 13 year old got a loaded gun and fired it, nevermind that because he was playing God of War. Clearly that's the issue. Not the loaded gun he fired or anything.

@Nordic
Yeah, I'm Canadian too. This absolutely boggles my mind.

"But we also have… rights in America to have a safe neighborhoods, safe streets, and safe world. And that’s what my discussion will be about - is about safety in our homes, safety in our streets, safety in our worlds."


And a video game encoded onto an inanimate disc threatens your safety how?

Heh good luck to Menino. I highly doubt he will get any further than JT did. At this point, I feel they are really digging for a loop hole in the whole system that would finally give them what they want (since there are usually loopholes somewhere in the legal system). Maybe the banning of JT will get some ppl to finally STFU. I will personally be celebrating this ban by getting a cake and getting "Good Bye JT" written on it.

Just remember, its not the guns, prositutes, drugs and gangs....its the video games.

"Because there’s too much violence on the streets of America, presently, to uh, that is happening...."
Get this man some index cards with talking points on em, he's drowning.

@Pinworm
The only person blaming God of War for the shooting is Thompson, who as this site's vistors know, will try to turn everything into a lawsuit. Look, as someone who lives in a violent city, I can safely say what's the blame for the shootings aren't legal guns, but those available on the blackmarket (which will still be open even after a nationwide ban).

@ Pinworm

Grats on your epic fail!!

"I don’t understand Americans. They have a ridiculous ammount of guns floating around their country, so they decide to blame Video Games for causing violence.

What the fuck. Just what the fuck. "

I was thinking... no WAY can someone out-fail this mayor in such short order.. but wow..

If you are truly implying that guns cause violence, you're even more mistaken than Memino or JT could ever even hope to be.

I wish I had a snappy quote for this stupidity, but I don't. All I can do is shake my head sometimes.

boy, they sure threw him some hard questions....(/sarcasm)

We all know not getting carded is a lie. And he needs to work on his speaking skills. He says uh and um too much.

I'm not sure his problem is speaking skills so much as simply knowing what he's talking about.

"Announcer: You’re absolutely right. Now what would the penalty be for a store that didn’t card a kid and sold a kid a game?"

And the media strike again. I love the high standard of impartiality in the way the media reports these issues(/sarcasm)

What ever happened to journalistic responsibility? What happened to facts?
What happened to politicians being challenged to insure they are acting in the best interest of society and not just jumping on a band waggon?
Hatred has replaced religion as the opiate of the masses. Hatred and fear of things they don't understand and don't WANT to understand.

Just as a side point. children playing handhelds? Violence everywhere because of them? erm the VAST majority of games on handheld systems is not violent. I'm struggling to think of a single title.

You know, after all the recent dumping on the UK and violence in videogames, it's good to see the reliable bible-thumping American politicans and their stereotypes thrust back into the limelight in style.

Balance is restored my yankee amigos.

I can just imagine this guy talking with a Yosemite Sam voice....

GP: if you listen to the audio, he is surprisingly inarticulate for a major city mayor...

All the hapiness I felt with the Stephen King note, is gone...

"Menino: 18. I’d restrict the sale of video games to anyone under the age of 18.

Announcer: So the store could still sell them, you’re just trying to protect the kids.

Menino: That’s right. I mean, you start early on. Kids start at 5, 6, 7 years old watching those video games. They think it’s a way of life and I’m trying to make them understand there’s a different way of life (emphasis GP’s) and, uh, as you go about your daily chores, you’ll see these kids with the video games in their hands. They’ll see it on the TV, see it everyplace you go, there’s violence that’s out there. If you watched one of our major sporting events last year, every video that was on there, every advertisement had violence in it. Our life is full of violence.

Announcer: You’re absolutely right. Now what would the penalty be for a store that didn’t card a kid and sold a kid a game?"

How much do you think he was paying to get buddied like that?

With all his studdering, I doubt he put any REAL thought into anything he said. Stephen King I agree with. Video games are a scapgoat. The "video games make murders" is total garbage. I'm 16. Been playing games sence I was 3 or 4 years old, many are M rated. Why am I not killing anyone? How come we dont have a big gamer crime epidimic?

Announcer: Okay, so you would ban the ouright sale of any kind of violent video game to what - anybody under the age of 17, or what?

Menino: 18. I’d restrict the sale of video games to anyone under the age of 18.


Ok so the way Menino just worded that statement is that you have to be 18 to buy any video game. That must mean that all video games are violent or harmful to children. I mean look at Wii sports. Kids will play the bowling game and maybe by the motion and action of the controller they will learn how to kill someone with the bowling ball. Maybe someday some kids are playing the baseball game and then picks up a real baseball bat and kills some one. Video games are the cause they will say. Wow the criminal acts of the game industry. And of course we all know that ever game out there has pornography in it. I mean I remember playing some Mario galaxy and in it Mario and the Princess peach have sex. Very detailed graphics that showed everything.

But seriously if we ban kids from buying or playing these games will it really prevent violence in the future. What about the kids that are victims of idiot parents. And the children who are victims of physical, sexual or mental abuse by there parents or other adults. We live in a world that is so full of violence and hate. But we all know the sole cause for all the violence and hate in the world is these kids playing video games. Cut out the video games and the world is saved.

Does this guy sound like that when he gives a more practiced speech? If so, he must have won the election on the basis of a collection of banal homilies, and an average voting age of 74.

I love how elected officials' method of opening a discussion is to propose legislation that overreaches their authority. Then they invite video game advocates to come explain why they shouldn't be flayed and lynched for opposing a ban that the lawmakers know would certainly end all teen violence, because their ad nauseum syllogism of, "teens play games with violent content; teens occasionally do violence; separating teens from games will cure violence", can't possibly be flawed.

Watch the news segment covering this that's above the audio segment. The reporter seems to be fawning, and I don't have to stretch my imagination too far to see her calling this, "the mayor's noble struggle".

@GP

I see what you mean about his ability to communicate, seems to me he thinks banning Video Games is 'good' and Violence is 'Bad' and doesn't really seem to understand much more of the issue beyond that point, he uses the words 'Violent', 'Teen' and 'Video Games' without really making any attempt to link the two... 'Teens are Violent, Teens play Video Games, ergo, Video Games cause Teen Violence....'

[...] wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptBoston news radio station WBZ-1030 has an interview with Mayor Thomas Menino (left) conducted by on-air personality Laurie Kirby (GP: I can’t refer to her as a “reporter” based on the softballs she’s tossing to Menino here). The interview took place on March 17th on the eve of the Massachusett’s Legislature’s consideration of HB1423. The measure, a video game bill based on the Jack Thompson-authored Louisiana legislation which failed so miserably in federal court in 2006 (see: Judge Trashes Louisiana Government Over Failed Jack Thompson Law, Orders State to Pay Legal Fees), would seek to classify violent video games as “harmful to minors” in the same legal sense as pornography. Here’s the text of the interview (as transribed by GP). Note that Menino speaks of the proposed law as a “ban” throughout the interview and expresses a desire to enforce a lifestyle change on game players. He also seems to be bothered by the image of kids playing […] [...]

If anything, Mumbles Menino needs to provide more funding to english and speech classes. I know my public speaking teacher would have tore him a new one if she had to sit through that garbled mess.

Speaking of legislation though, are these politicos really that wrapped up in their self-serving image that they can't realize they're trampling on the First Amendment? You'd think after so many failed attempts across the country, that the sponsor (not the State, City, etc.) should have to pay for the failed bill (attorney's fees and all). That's the only way to get these ambulance chasers to stop. Hit them (not the taxpayers) in the wallet.

I dare say Menino is now whinier in my book than Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. Of course, half of Chicago isn't an absolute craphole like half of Boston is, so I'm not sure what to think.

Oh well, can't wait to see this go down in flames like his attempt to have the police seize all 'Stop Snitchin'" shirts.

Why politicians make complete lies such as youth crime rights going up? Last time I checked,it's the other way around. Something new comes around and youth crimes going down, so lets ban it and say it causes crime.

Why Politicians think that are going somewhere with this bandwagon. I think it hurts there reputation since there are enforcing something that is struck down as unconstitutional.

He comes across sounding like Rain Man.

Not surprised; this IS the same guy who got the head of Cartoon Network ousted because his police force thought a Lite-Brite was a bomb.

We haven’t determined what the violence would be


Wow. So we will be having street judgments going on in Boston. ;)

He sure is difficult to follow. I wonder if the interviewer understood any of that.

people thought banning alcohol would end crime, and instead there was a massive increase in crime.

Ugh... I'm embarrassed to be from MA...

To Zeke129 Says:

It´s the most likely scenario... hope she gets herpes :lol

First, of all the Mayor of Boston could just be a person that studders a lot. This is what some people do, and they're perfectly normal people. Second, everyone makes pauses, and make these little chunks of uhs and ohs, just to signal that they still have the floor. It is more common in person who studders, though, I think.

Third, and perhaps most disturbing is the fact? that the -ehm- reporter? does not seem to know that any major retail chain in the US will card a child if he or she wishes to buy a Mature rated game. That i is just very bad research...on so many levels...

I could understand it if the Mayor wanted to make it illegal for stores to sell Mature rated games to people under 17 and younger. Instead he wants to make a city law? or ordinance? that makes it illegal to buy every videogame out there if you're 18 years or older. I find this a bit harsh especially since games for the Nintendo DS really isn't (that) violent at all.
Most games for the Nintendo DS are educational, fun and challenging; of course there's a Zelda game as well as there ate Spyro games for the PS2.

I liked how Stephen King pointed out the illogical things about a 17 year old being able to see a much more violencet movie like Postal or Hostel than any videogame outthere. In fact, he might also be worried that one day his books or any books might the same treatment - or why not just forbid books all together since they teach people how to think for themselves. Oh wait - Ray Bradbury wrote a book about this --- at what temperature do DVDs burn, do you think??

Not saying that we will end up there, but we might, if we're not very being carefull and cacautious...about the state, both federal and local, meddling in what the parents decide is OK for their children to watch, see, play - or yes, read...

...I saw his picture there, and first thing I thought was, "Is his head going to explode?" I even asked my sis, and she agrees, it looks like his head is literally going to burst.

Question?

Ok, say this goes through in any state in the US. Now when the violence continues, exactly what are they going to blame then? I still can't believe people are so gullible to actually fall for this. No one to this day has explained how we had just as much violence before the arrival of video games as we do now.

RJ

Your emphasis was well-placed, GP.

Manino truly didn't put ANY effort into what he said. 'Yeh, thur bad. Everybody's playin' 'em gotta stop. I'm cool. Vote fer me, fer tha kids.' That was pretty much the gist of what he said.

Seriously, he put more effort into his Red Sox spots than this.

Menino: We haven’t determined what the violence would be, I mean the penalty would be, but we’re looking at some serious, serious restriction on the sale of these video games.

Jesus talk about a Freudian slip. hes got violence on the brain!

So is this law number 11 to be shot down. :P

Sammy look up the Puritons it was already done. :P

I don't understand Americans. They have a ridiculous ammount of guns floating around their country, so they decide to blame Video Games for causing violence.

What the fuck. Just what the fuck.

@ Pinworm

I'm Canadian, and I have to agree with you.

*shakes head in disgust*

"Announcer: You’re absolutely right. Now what would the penalty be for a store that didn’t card a kid and sold a kid a game?"

Not biased at all... :/

So, uh, what's this, um, "other way of life" that he, yknow, mentions?

Does it start with an R and end with a good firm brainwashing?
---
Fangamer

Is there any chance this "reporter" works for Murdoch? Who wants to bet?

Looks like the mayor is a little worried about getting re-elected; the moral crusader facade works great with the uninformed.

@GP How long until we hear about this bill's miserable failure?

This wasn't an interview, this was an ass-kissing.

How many violent videogames like Liberty City Stories and the like will you find on the DS? I'd worry less about the handheld industry and more about the classification of videogames as pornography, thank you.

And on that note, anyone who says that a game like Twilight Princess or Halo has no redeeming "artistic" value has gone off his rocker. Coding a game is hard, coding a VIDEOGAME is even harder, and i think that game developers and producers are as much artists and Burgmueller and Frida Khalo ever were.

meant to say "as Burgmueller and Frida Khalo" back there. Sorry.

Given that the man's from Boston, it sounds like he needs to stop sippin' the Samuel Adams so much... I know I'm not the only one who heard that slight slurring in his speech there. Boston sure elected themselves a real winner here... for the children, indeed...

I swear, this man makes G.W. Bush sound like a AAA-movie star.

>_>

Even though we wail about how much the older generation is being so adamant against videogames, I can't help but fear that we too will someday be wailing about violent virtual-reality media a la Ghost in the Shell.

God forbid we ever become hypocrites.

Violence was around before video games came out. **Shakes Head**
 
Forgot your password?
Username :
Password :

Shout box

You're not permitted to post shouts.
MechaTama31AE: Probably snarky commentary on this: http://www.gamepolitics.com/2014/08/29/principle-player-leland-yee-arms-trading-case-dies08/30/2014 - 8:43pm
Andrew EisenConster - Don't know. Got a link to whatever you're referring to?08/30/2014 - 7:04pm
ConsterWait, what's this about Leland Yee eliminating witnesses?08/30/2014 - 5:50pm
IanCBroke my EA boycott to pick up Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare. Loving it. Still hate EA though. But i like Popcap. Gah.08/30/2014 - 6:01am
MaskedPixelantehttp://m.tickld.com/x/something-you-never-realized-about-guardians-of-the-galaxy Right in the feels.08/29/2014 - 6:56pm
AvalongodAgain I think we're conflating the issue of whether Sarkeesian's claims are beyond critique (no they're not) and whether its ever appropriate to use sexist language, let alone physical threats on a woman to intimidate her (no it isn't)08/29/2014 - 5:04pm
prh99Trolling her or trying to assail her integrity just draws more attention (Streisand effect?). Which is really not what the trolls want, so the only way to win (if there is a win to be had) is not to play/troll.08/29/2014 - 5:02pm
prh99Who cares, just don't watch the damn videos if you don't like her. Personally, I don't care as far as she is concerned as long there are interesting games to be played.08/29/2014 - 4:34pm
Andrew EisenZip - And yet, you can't cite a single, solitary example. (And no one said you hated anyone. Along those lines, no one claimed Sarkeesian was perfect either.)08/29/2014 - 3:51pm
Andrew EisenSaint's Row: Gat Out of Hell was just announced for PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One making it the 150th game For Everything But Wii U! Congratulations Deep Silver!08/29/2014 - 3:49pm
ZippyDSMleeI do not hate them jsut think its mostly hyperlobe.08/29/2014 - 3:40pm
Andrew EisenSleaker - I'd say that's likely. From my experience, most who have a problem with Sarkeesian's videos either want to hate them in the first place (for whatever reason) or honestly misunderstand what they're about and what they're saying.08/29/2014 - 3:16pm
james_fudgeWe appreciate your support :)08/29/2014 - 2:55pm
TechnogeekIt gives me hope that maybe, just maybe, the gaming community is not statistically indistinguishable from consisting entirely of people that your average Xbox Live caricature would look at and go "maybe you should tone it down a little bit".08/29/2014 - 2:49pm
TechnogeekI just want to say that while I've disagreed with the staff of this site on several occasions, it's still good to see that they're not automatically dismissing Anita's videos as a "misandrist scam" or whatever the preferred dismissive term is these days.08/29/2014 - 2:49pm
E. Zachary KnightZippy, So you can't find even one?08/29/2014 - 1:04pm
ZippyDSMleeAndrew Eisen:Right because shes prefect and never exaggerates... *rolls eyes*08/29/2014 - 12:53pm
SleakerAnd honestly, nearly all of the games she references, or images she depicts I've always cringed at and wondered why they were included in games to begin with, from pinups through explicit sexual depictions or direct abuse. I think it's cheap storytelling.08/29/2014 - 12:35pm
Sleaker@AE - aren't most people fundamentally misunderstanding her at this point? haha.. On a related note I think a lot of the backlash is coming from males that think she is telling them their 'Generic Male Fantasy' is bad and wrong.08/29/2014 - 12:33pm
Andrew EisenAnd no, I don't think the female community would be upset over the performance of a case study in and of itself. Possibly the mostivations behind such a study, the methodology or conclusions but not the mere idea of a case study.08/29/2014 - 12:29pm
 

Be Heard - Contact Your Politician