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Op Ed

SignOnSanDiego.com - Parents should be able to control what kids watch. By Sen. Leland Y. Yee.
I am hopeful that a majority of justices will agree that parents – not retailers or game makers – should determine which video games are appropriate for kids. A ruling in favor California’s law will not only ensure that parents make such decisions, but will help protect our children in the years to come.

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13. Re: Op Ed Dec 22, 2010, 09:24 briktal
 
ViRGE wrote on Dec 21, 2010, 16:47:
I'd have to disagree here. The MPAA system is quite effective. Theaters that have problems letting minors in to R-rated movies quickly get their acts together, while my local GameStop is more than happy to sell M games to minors even though corporate policy is that they shouldn't.

In 2008 and 2009, the FTC found 80% of retailers stopped kids under 17 from buying M-rated games vs 65% and 72% for theaters turning away kids under 17 from R-rated movies, and it was 53% and 46% for retailers stopping them from buying R-rated DVDs. Granted, they didn't do as well in the first half of the decade, but they have improved. FTC press release
 
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12. Re: Op Ed Dec 21, 2010, 16:54 Silicon Avatar
 
If your kids are running around on you buying games that you said they can't had - that's your parenting problem. We don't need more laws on the books because some parents can't control their kids.

What if junior goes to the library and checks out Ender's Game? Guess what, he just read about Genocide. That's pretty violent. Maybe he needs permission to check that out. Why is that different than a movie? No? What about comic books? What about the radio? I hear a lot of violent lyrics on the radio.

 
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11. Re: Op Ed Dec 21, 2010, 16:47 ViRGE
 
HumanTarget wrote on Dec 21, 2010, 16:30:
I'm trying to find an analogous scenario and consumption of pornography is about the only one that really fits well but it even has issues (mainly with what is construed as "pornography" - as it is in they eye of the beholder). But isn't that nearly an exact situation as to what we're debating here?
I'm not sure why pornography would be a good analogy. Various kinds of pornography are still illegal to adults in a number of states to this day. No one is talking about making games illegal to adults. Even bad bills like Yee's aren't making games illegal for adults - they're just having the wrong person/group decide what should be withheld from minors.

And the burden on retailers is quite simple: if it's M/AO, card the buyer. That absolves the retailer and means the underage buyer is now committing fraud.

Regarding the "consumption of media" (to follow as closely as possible to alcohol) however, there has not been any abdication of enforcement by the citizens and attempts to position a group of citizens towards any abdication have been derided and/or seen as ineffective (Comics Code Authority, MPAA...)
I'd have to disagree here. The MPAA system is quite effective. Theaters that have problems letting minors in to R-rated movies quickly get their acts together, while my local GameStop is more than happy to sell M games to minors even though corporate policy is that they shouldn't.
 
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10. Re: Op Ed Dec 21, 2010, 16:30 HumanTarget
 
Last reply, as I believe we're talking past each other at this point.

You cannot compare law's structure without considering the basis of whether said law is constitutional. Limits on alcohol possession/consumption would be a comparable if games had been construed as having a deleterious affect on minor development.

In regards to alcohol, this is a role the citizens (both individual & corporate) have abdicated (not meant to be derogatory) to the state for enforcement which is what gives us our various liquor laws throughout the lands (limits on availability for sale/purchase, limits on possession, limits on consumption...)

Alcohol boils down to a public health issue.

Regarding the "consumption of media" (to follow as closely as possible to alcohol) however, there has not been any abdication of enforcement by the citizens and attempts to position a group of citizens towards any abdication have been derided and/or seen as ineffective (Comics Code Authority, MPAA...) This is primarily due to concerns of first amendment abridgment at the hands of the state.

And I'd challenge you to find a lawful statue that abridges a citizens first amendment that specifically targets a minor. Schools & school boards have been given wide discretion (case law) when it comes to "school & student safety" and though there are limits on free speech in schools, students (and hence minors) do not forfeit their first amendment rights when they walk through the door. There are merely limitations on such rights.

Keep in mind what we're talking about here are two parties' rights: the consumer (minor/adult/citizen) & the purveyor (retailer/distributor/creator/citizen). Abridging the consumer's right with undue restrictions of consumption isn't legal. Neither is abridging the purveyor's rights with undue restrictions of sale/distribution/creation.

I'm trying to find an analogous scenario and consumption of pornography is about the only one that really fits well but it even has issues (mainly with what is construed as "pornography" - as it is in they eye of the beholder). But isn't that nearly an exact situation as to what we're debating here?

What you (not calling you out specifically) would construe as violent I may not. Similarly what could be construed as pornographic might be different between us as well.

So how do you legislate that?

The question is couched to include the vagaries of burdens on retailers (ensuring 100% compliance with any potential law else face punishment for violations), impacts on first amendment grounds (both consumer & purveyor), and the shielding of minors from harmful materials (public health concerns).

A majority of municipalities already have laws on the books regarding "pandering obscenity". (Check the here [url=]http://cbldf.org/[/url]for those...) The problem is those laws require a high burden of proof to be applicable and video games currently are not considered adequate to warrant enforcement using those methods. Couple this with a combination of unwilling attorneys general (not even attempting to use existing law) & legislators needing to "do something" to gain political capital ("Protect the Children (r)") and you have Sen. Yee attempting to bolster a fail(ing) law.

Which, if SCOTUS follows precedent, will be struck down as unconstitutional.

HT
 
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9. Re: Op Ed Dec 21, 2010, 15:29 ViRGE
 
HumanTarget wrote on Dec 21, 2010, 14:12:
ViRGE wrote on Dec 21, 2010, 13:45:
As far as I know none of Yee's proposed bills have required games be removed from the shelves. They're basically equivalent to most states' liquor control laws, which prohibit sales to minors and require stores to card purchasers who may be underage. Blue Laws aside, this doesn't stop me from getting beer, nor would I expect it to stop me from getting a copy of Halo.

False analogy - if you are under 21 years of age, you are not allowed to either purchase or possess alcohol due to repeated scientific studies surrounding adolescent consumption of alcohol being detrimental to child development. That makes alcohol a public health issue and not a moral* one.

Nowhere (yet) has there been repeatable and peer reviewed studies of the impact of violent video games on children's development.
Sorry, I suppose my point didn't come across clearly.

I'm not trying to compare the effects of alcohol to violent games (that would be silly); I'm only using it to compare law structure. Alcohol laws are pretty consistent between states, whereas media laws aren't. In the case of Yee's bills, enforcement would be similar to how alcohol sales are enforced, with authorities doing compliance checks and citing offenders.

Media laws on the other hard are inconsistent - some municipalities do compliance checks, some don't. But in either case theaters still card patrons, so it's not that far off. The point being that reasonable restrictions on a minor's access to material generally doesn't stop adults from accessing it.


But even at that level you quickly run into issues surrounding first amendment violations in determining what should be designated M/AO or otherwise.
Minors don't have meaningful first amendment rights, so there's no violation. Meanwhile buyers of majority age have access to this material, so there's no violation there either. As for determining M/AO, that's currently (and should continue to be) left up to the ESRB. The only point of such a bill is to give teeth to restrictions so that stores have a more meaningful incentive to keep minors from buying M/AO games.

Regarding my assertion towards "preemptive removal" from market: if a company is unable to achieve the sales levels they require for a return on their investment in certain regions/areas, they will not distribute such materials to those areas.

Look at what happened with some of the "questionable" games that were planned for release in Australia. After being flagged as "M/AO" the game was either banned from distribution there, the distributor decided to not sell in AUS, or sales were severely limited (no ROI).
I'm not sure Australia is a good example. In Australia if something is refused classification you can't sell it period, it's banned. As a result if a publisher wants to sell something at all they have to censor their games, which you're right in that not everyone does. But that's a huge difference from just keeping minors from buying something; there's no need for publishers to censor their games as such a law would not restrict them from selling it to their target market of adults.
briktal wrote on Dec 21, 2010, 14:14:
However, we feel that games should be treated like movies and music instead of like alcohol and tobacco.
Perhaps this is a municipality difference, but where I am minors can't buy R-rated movies or go see them without a parent. This would be consistent with proposals to ban minors from buying M/AO games.
 
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8. Re: Op Ed Dec 21, 2010, 14:14 briktal
 
ViRGE wrote on Dec 21, 2010, 13:45:
Silicon Avatar wrote on Dec 21, 2010, 12:47:
Parents can already control what kids watch. No laws needed.
Not if their kids can do a run-around on them and just buy whatever they want from the store, which is Yee's point. He's an ass most of the time, but there are some games that shouldn't be sold directly to minors, leaving such purchasing decisions to the parents. Yee wants it to be "violent video games" which I think is going too far because it gets government in to regulating games; it should just be M/AO games.

HumanTarget wrote on Dec 21, 2010, 13:23:
Uh, how? If you've preemptively removed the game from the market there's no way for a parent to decide to/not to allow their child to experience it.
As far as I know none of Yee's proposed bills have required games be removed from the shelves. They're basically equivalent to most states' liquor control laws, which prohibit sales to minors and require stores to card purchasers who may be underage. Blue Laws aside, this doesn't stop me from getting beer, nor would I expect it to stop me from getting a copy of Halo.

However, we feel that games should be treated like movies and music instead of like alcohol and tobacco.
 
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7. Re: Op Ed Dec 21, 2010, 14:12 HumanTarget
 
ViRGE wrote on Dec 21, 2010, 13:45:
As far as I know none of Yee's proposed bills have required games be removed from the shelves. They're basically equivalent to most states' liquor control laws, which prohibit sales to minors and require stores to card purchasers who may be underage. Blue Laws aside, this doesn't stop me from getting beer, nor would I expect it to stop me from getting a copy of Halo.

False analogy - if you are under 21 years of age, you are not allowed to either purchase or possess alcohol due to repeated scientific studies surrounding adolescent consumption of alcohol being detrimental to child development. That makes alcohol a public health issue and not a moral* one.

Nowhere (yet) has there been repeatable and peer reviewed studies of the impact of violent video games on children's development.

Now, if Yee and any of his supporters really wanted to get into regulating video games and their sales, then they would need to address it at a commerce clause level within the federal jurisdiction.

But even at that level you quickly run into issues surrounding first amendment violations in determining what should be designated M/AO or otherwise.

Regarding my assertion towards "preemptive removal" from market: if a company is unable to achieve the sales levels they require for a return on their investment in certain regions/areas, they will not distribute such materials to those areas.

Look at what happened with some of the "questionable" games that were planned for release in Australia. After being flagged as "M/AO" the game was either banned from distribution there, the distributor decided to not sell in AUS, or sales were severely limited (no ROI).

Businesses are still in existence to make money...

HT

* My interpretation: the distinction on what is/is not violent and/or inappropriate for children is entirely up to the parent and any attempt to establish otherwise a morals-based justification.

"I don't like my child to see or ask me about boobies, so I don't want Cosmopolitan magazine on sale at the grocery store."

This is a morals-based justification for removing from the market legal (and free speech based) material.
 
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6. Re: Op Ed Dec 21, 2010, 13:45 ViRGE
 
Silicon Avatar wrote on Dec 21, 2010, 12:47:
Parents can already control what kids watch. No laws needed.
Not if their kids can do a run-around on them and just buy whatever they want from the store, which is Yee's point. He's an ass most of the time, but there are some games that shouldn't be sold directly to minors, leaving such purchasing decisions to the parents. Yee wants it to be "violent video games" which I think is going too far because it gets government in to regulating games; it should just be M/AO games.

HumanTarget wrote on Dec 21, 2010, 13:23:
Uh, how? If you've preemptively removed the game from the market there's no way for a parent to decide to/not to allow their child to experience it.
As far as I know none of Yee's proposed bills have required games be removed from the shelves. They're basically equivalent to most states' liquor control laws, which prohibit sales to minors and require stores to card purchasers who may be underage. Blue Laws aside, this doesn't stop me from getting beer, nor would I expect it to stop me from getting a copy of Halo.
 
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5. Re: Op Ed Dec 21, 2010, 13:23 HumanTarget
 
Um...
Whiskey
Tango
Foxtrot

Over?

Disjointed argument is disjointed!

"...parents....should determine (what's) appropriate for kids..."
"...ruling in favor of CA's law will ensure parents make such decisions..."

Uh, how? If you've preemptively removed the game from the market there's no way for a parent to decide to/not to allow their child to experience it.

I correct my earlier "disjointed" comment:
Douchebag senator is douchey!
(and my apologies in advance if this is considered a personal attack)

HT
 
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4. Re: Op Ed Dec 21, 2010, 12:47 Silicon Avatar
 
Parents can already control what kids watch. No laws needed.
 
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3. Re: Op Ed Dec 21, 2010, 11:44 ldonyo
 
Parents can control what their children watch on TV and the video games they play by actively participating in the lives of their children. The problem comes from many parents who are not willing to make that kind of effort.

Yee's bastard stepchild of legislation does nothing to empower parents and everything to impose governmental control over the content and sale of video games in the marketplace. It is one tiny step away from deciding what is appropriate for children to what is appropriate for everyone.
 
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2. Re: Op Ed Dec 21, 2010, 11:38 Cutter
 
Good lord! Most parents shouldn't be parents in the first place. So no, since they're incapable the governement should step in for the common good.
 
Avatar 25394
 
"The South will boogie again!" - Disco Stu
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1. Re: Op Ed Dec 21, 2010, 11:14 StingingVelvet
 
I love how governments hide increasing their own power as giving power to their citizens.  
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