Thursday, March 17, 2005
The one where I agree with Dan Quayle
Yet another story I found courtesy of Minnesota Politics
. It's a good blog, with more light than heat. Information over invective. Something like that. Anyway, City Pages
If you're a parent who approves of your 14-year-old playing popular video games like Halo, Half-Life, or Unreal Tournament, state Sen. Sandy Pappas thinks you need to get an education. Two years ago, Pappas, a St. Paul DFLer, introduced a bill that would make it illegal to sell mature or adult-rated video games to children under 17. It went nowhere because it required businesses to bear the brunt of the legislation. But on March 8, she presented a bill to the Crime Prevention and Public Safety Committee, one that would put the onus on kids under 17 and make it illegal for them to rent or purchase mature or adult-oriented video games, and it was approved.
If passed by the Senate, it won't be illegal for your kids to watch the show CSI: Miami, but they will be breaking the law if they rent the video game CSI: Miami. Pappas says her goal in passing the bill isn't to rack up fines ($25 for a violation), but rather to educate parents. "This is to let them know that the state says it's inappropriate for children to play these video games," she says. The bill also requires businesses to display a sign notifying customers that it's illegal for minors to rent or purchase M or AO video games, which Pappas says will act as a primer for adults who are unaware (and living under a rock) that video games have violent and misogynistic content. ...
"This is clearly unconstitutional," says Sean Bersell of the VSDA. "Minors have First Amendment rights. You can restrict access to material that is obscene or sexual, but when it comes to violence you cannot."
Pappas says that argument is crazy. "Who says children have First Amendment rights?" she says. "How is that relevant?"
Hillary Clinton was vilified for approving of the African proverb "It takes a village to raise a child." Dan Quayle responded that it didn't take a village to raise a child, it took parents.
Quayle, of course, intentionally misunderstood the proverb, but his response contained an element of truth. Government should I help parents raise their children in a number of ways:
- Making sure products intended for children are safe
- Providing accurate, authoritative information relevant to child rearing
- Ensuring rights like time away from work to care for family emergencies and affordable access to health care
At the end of the day, though, the government ought to offer help to parents, but not forcible intrude into the parental arena. Parents know best what is appropriate for their children. Information about the content of video games is readily available. The state should act to assure parents that the information is act, but trust parents to responsibly act upon that information. Anything more than that is indistinguishable from the cruelest kinds of censorship. I don't want the government to be in the business of telling me what games my kids can play any more than I want the government telling me what books my kids can read or what movies they can watch.