Passed By Louisiana Senate, SB 152 Targets Sexually-Explicit Content

June 11, 2009 -

By a 35-0 vote yesteday, the Louisiana Senate passed SB 152, a bill which would make a pattern of distributing sexually explicit material to children a deceptive trade practice under state law.

GamePolitics readers may recall that in its original form, SB 152 was drafted by disbarred Miami attorney Jack Thompson as a back-door means of enforcing ESRB content ratings. The original SB 152 mirrored Thompson's Utah bill, which was vetoed by Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) in March. However, bill sponsor Sen. A.G. Crowe (R, at left) subsequently gutted Thompson's focus on age ratings from the bill, amending it instead to its new focus on the distribution of sexually explicit material to minors. It should be noted that distributing such material to minors is already an offense under Louisiana's criminal statutes.

Unlike the Utah bill, SB 152 doesn't make reference to video games, advertising, age ratings or any specific product, for that matter. However, Sen. Crowe did mention video games as an example during yesterday's session:

This body has over the years passed numerous laws to protect our children... And with the growth of...  the market of materials that would be considered by most of us here objectionable as it relates to obscenity such as that is found... in video games either rented or purchased, could fall again into the hands of some of our children. So it is a step in the direction of moving, passing legislation that would allow for, again, protecting our children from this type of thing...

Oddly enough, SB 152 specifically excludes the Internet from its provisions. These days the online world would seem the most likely source for a child to stumble upon sexually explicit material. 

The nature of sexually-explicit conduct defined in the bill would seem to exclude any ESRB-rated video game published to date. It seems clear that a game meeting the standard defined in the bill would have already been rated Adults Only (AO) by the ESRB. Curiously, the bill does not relate its provision for sexually-explicit conduct to the legal definition of obscenity. Should the bill eventually be signed into law, this could prove to be a fatal flaw from a constitutional sense.

Now that it has been passed by the Senate, the next stop for SB 152 is the Louisiana House of Representatives.

GamePolitics readers can watch yesterday's debate on SB 152 by clicking here. Scroll down to "Chamber" for June 10th. The SB 152 segment begins at 4:01:39.

UPDATE: A knowledgeable video game industry source criticized SB 152 in comments to GamePolitics:

The bill as passed by the Senate is clearly unconstitutional. It would penalize the sale of sexually oriented material to minors, but does not require that the material be legally obscene for minors, referred to in Louisiana as 'harmful to minors,' or 'obscene,' as U.S. Supreme Court precedents mandate. This was the same flaw that doomed the Illinois 'sexually explicit video games' law.
 
While it might seem that mainstream retailers have little to fear from the amended bill, as they don't carry pornography, the fact that a single depiction in an otherwise unobjectionable video game, DVD, or other material could open a retailer to liability is of grave concern.


Comments

Re: Passed By Louisiana Senate, SB 152 Targets ...

Passed a toothless bill, and therefore not going to affect the Videogame Industry because stores don't allow AO rated games.

All this will do is just banning the sale of Hentai games in that state, but that is all.

Plus people can get around it via the internet because it is not sold within the state at all, online sale is completely different compared to commercial sale.

At least that is how I understand it.

Oh and first admendment issues aside, this was a complete waste of tax payers money,

People can believe all the want if the politicians tell them, but they will be having egg on their faces when the people of that state realize that the bill was needless.

TBoneTony

Re: Passed By Louisiana Senate, SB 152 Targets ...

So essentially they passed a toothless bill?  And one that's patently unconstitutional at that?  And one that doesn't even remotely resemble what Jack initially drafted?  Wow.  Yeah, way to go.  It's a stunning victory to be sure.

Let's face it, Jack's nothing now.  On some level even he must realize this.  His lack of a message to Dennis or anyone else is telling.  His last hurrah was in Utah.  That the law he drafted was essentially gutted here just to pass muster in the LA senate doesn't bode well for any future endeavors.  His crusade's over, he's lost and no one of any consequence will listen to him anymore as he's been disbarred and he's alienated all his allies.  Sure, he can still resort to his usual puffery and empty threats, but it's all he's got now.

The only thing that could possibly be of any concern is that thanks to a couple of high-profile shooting incidents perpetrated by ultra right-wing whackjobs, that the possibilty of JT going on a shooting rampage of his own is becoming that much more likely.

Re: Passed By Louisiana Senate, SB 152 Targets ...

I want to believe that the reason the internet is exempt from this bill because they're smart enough to know that trying to ban stuff on the internet is near impossible...

I WANT to...

---You are likely to be eaten by a Grue.

---You are likely to be eaten by a Grue.

Re: Passed By Louisiana Senate, SB 152 Targets ...

I hate to dash your hopes against the rocks, but it more likely has to do with the impossibility of age-identifying minors making credit card purchasers on the Internet. As the FTC has found, the mere fact that someone has a credit card with which to make the purchase most likely means either: (a) they are adult or (b) they make the purchase with consent of an adult.  

Re: Passed By Louisiana Senate, SB 152 Targets ...

Cue the law being unconstitutional AGAIN.

When Jack Thompson runs his mouth, does anyone really care what he has to say anymore?

Re: Passed By Louisiana Senate, SB 152 Targets ...

Unless it follows the obscene for minors standard set out in Ginsberg/Miller, This bill is fatally flawed and unconstitutional.

 "No law means no law" - Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black on the First Amendment

"No law means no law" - Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black on the First Amendment

Re: Passed By Louisiana Senate, SB 152 Targets ...

This bill accomplishes nothing that isn't already stated by other laws, and is of course restricting free speech by punishing sale of non-obscene content to minors.

Good work on that bill boys.

Re: Passed By Louisiana Senate, SB 152 Targets ...

Silly Senator.....


Sortableturnip's Law: As an online discussion of video game violence grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Jack Thompson approaches 1

Re: Passed By Louisiana Senate, SB 152 Targets ...

 So it passed but it really had nothing to do with Thompson's original bill. Watch him tote this as a triumph anyway. 

Re: Passed By Louisiana Senate, SB 152 Targets ...

so let me get this straight

in practice the law punishes people for selling sexually explicite material to children, but then doesn't proporly define what sexually explicite means.

and in theory, all that the law does is tack a civil charge on top of the criminal charges that would normally be served for selling sexually explicite material to children

so the law is a double fail?

Re: Passed By Louisiana Senate, SB 152 Targets ...

Ugh, stupid monkies. Keep hurling bricks at a wall hoping one sticks.

Stupid Bill 152 will die like all the rest and just waste more moeny i na state that really needs it.

Seriously, are they just praying that it gets to where the industry takes mercy and doesn't sue?

Re: Passed By Louisiana Senate, SB 152 Targets ...

... So... no more Soul Calibur? No more Ivy?

Re: Passed By Louisiana Senate, SB 152 Targets ...

mikedo2007

If that is true, then that means:

no more Dead or Alive: Noooooooo!! My precious Kasumi, Ayane, Hitomi, and all the other girls.

no more Street Fighter series sexy outfit DLC: I want it to satisfy my fetishes.

 

oh boy, this bill will fail.  Yep this bill and Jack Thompson will fail once again.  Jack is a coward, he couldn't face the Utah's legislator and threaten them with conspiracy.

Re: Passed By Louisiana Senate, SB 152 Targets ...

No more Stripes starring Bill Murray either.  Man, I watched that with my wife last night, and I was taken aback by how much nudity there was.  I didn't remember there being quite that much.  Fantastic movie though.

Re: Passed By Louisiana Senate, SB 152 Targets ...

 

There's a unrated version of that movie.  Was that the one you watch or the R-rated version??

 

mikedo2007

Re: Passed By Louisiana Senate, SB 152 Targets ...

I'll bet a dollar against a donut that Crowe has absolutely no idea that given the definition in his legislation, 99.999% of all videogames will fall beyond the law's scope. That's what he gets for listening to Jack "Bunny Porn" Thompson.

Re: Passed By Louisiana Senate, SB 152 Targets ...

Feh. What's sexy or sexually-explicit? A double-entredre? Tube tops? Boob bouncing, grinding pixelation? How big is the potential gap between what's stated and what people think they see?

 

 

If there are no widely-avaliable games that fall into the already-defined standards of 'obscenity', why bother? Unless they plan on changing the standards afterwards.

 

I dunno. The whole thing sounds more alarmist than useful.

 

 

---- hc svnt dracones

---- hc svnt dracones

Re: Passed By Louisiana Senate, SB 152 Targets ...

It almost certainly is going to prove a fatal flaw, state laws still have to comport with the Federal Constitution, there's that annoying little doctrine called "incorporation." First Amendment applies to the states.

 

 
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