Responding to public comments from Australian Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor about the desire to have a consensus about an R18+ game classification at July's SCAG meeting, the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has come out swinging. The ACL issued a statement saying that the ban on games that require a classification higher than the current rating of R15 should continue as it is.
First, let's look at what Brendan O'Connor said to ABC Australia:
"We're becoming the laughing stock of the developed world, where we're the only country that doesn't have an R18 classification level for video games," he said. "I foreshadow that if there is not a consensus around this issue, the Commonwealth will certainly be considering other options because we cannot continue to have an outdated classification system that's actually, in my view, causing harm to young people."
O'Connor pledged to not let this issue go - mainly because the general public has called for it:
"I'm not going to let this matter end because it's too important to allow one or two jurisdictions to stop the majority of jurisdictions in this country moving on an important reform," O'Connor said. "But can I say my very strong preference is to have consensus around the table in July."
The Australian Christian Lobby is leading the charge against the R18+ classification, claiming that it will make it easier for children to access violent games. Here is what they said in response to O'Connor:
"The Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O’Connor, is continuing the push for an R18+ computer game classification with his recent comments which could open the way for games containing extreme interactive violence and sex to be more readily available in Australia.
Currently these types of games are Refused Classification but, as the Minister has admitted, some have been wrongly classified and allowed into the MA15+ category.
Commercial gaming interests are pushing for the ban on R18+ to be lifted and Mr O’Connor wants this to occur when Censorship Ministers meet at the SCAG (Standing Committee of Attorneys General) in July.
ACL believes it would be counterproductive for SCAG to pre-empt the review of the broken National Classification Scheme which Mr O’Connor and the Attorney General, Robert McClelland, announced before Christmas.
ACL does not accept the argument that introducing an R18+ category for games would protect children as it would be naive to think that children would not get a hold of them.
All of the State and Territory Children’s Commissioners told a Government inquiry last year that the ban on an R18+ classification should remain."
Commentary: I really only have a couple of comments for the ACL: You cannot legislate morality or support censorship of free speech. Encouraging the ban of creative works is tantamount to the government of the Soviet Union banning the Bible and religion in the 1970's. It's censorship under the guise of protecting children. Children should be protected, but adults should have the right to buy games because - as most religions claim - mankind has free will. Support free will.
Thanks to Uncharted NES for the links.