Video Games vs. the Law!

Stephen King, author of such works as “The Stand“, “Misery” and “Salem’s Lot”, writes articles for Entertainment Weekly from time to time.  Recently he discussed a bill pending in the Massachusetts state legislature known as HB 1423.  This bill basically wants to restrict the sale of video games with violent content to minors.  This is what Mr. King had to write on the subject:

HB 1423 would restrict or outright ban the sale of violent videogames to anyone under the age of 18. Which means, by the way, that a 17-year-old who can get in to see Hostel: Part II would be forbidden by law from buying (or renting, one supposes) the violent but less graphic Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

They (our elected officials) want the ban because video game violence is “pornographic and has no redeeming social merit.” These types of games are sold to youngsters in order for them to experience the “vicarious thrill of killing”.  Stephen Kings also writes, “when politicians take it upon themselves to play surrogate parents. The results of that are usually disastrous. Not to mention undemocratic.”

I have to say, Stephen King is now my hero.  Why?  Well, frankly, parenting is what parents should be doing, not a governmental body.  Parents need to be aware of what their kids are doing, by being involved in their lives daily and to make sure they are learning how to make the right choices.  It’s not the job of the government to clean up the mess of poor parenting.

Several years ago, a co-worker told me a story about how his 9 yr old neighbor was playing a new crazy game he just got called “Grand Theft Auto 2”.  The little neighbor told him all about the game. After hearing about being able to run people over in cars and being able to violently beat people to death on the street, he made sure to tell the parent what kind of game their son was playing.  Being a parent himself, he felt obligated.  But apparently, the adults had bought the game for their child, not knowing what it was or how violent.

 How can this be?  I’m sure the game was very well labeled with a rating sticker.  So what is the answer?  What would a ban have done?  Parents didn’t hesitate to buy the game, even with a “Mature” rating on it.  Are we going a little to far in throwing the word “Ban” around?  Parents aren’t getting the job done now, how will passing a law and banning the sale make things better? 

Honestly, as a former kid, I know that they will find ways around laws.  “R” rated movies are for people over 18, but I’m sure everyone has made their way into a horror movie when they were 16 or 17.  I’m sure people in college under the age of 21 have had a beer or two.  If their is a rating system for video games now, changing it so you can arrest people isn’t going to change the fact that people will get their hands on it.  It’s not the job of elected officials to be as King writes, “surrogate parents“. 

Next thing you know, we’ll be banning books with questionable content, or even thoughts.  Once they start down that road, will we ever come back?




~ by oakstout on April 18, 2008.

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