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Conservative Columnist Puts Video Games On Agenda

sjohnson
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Posted January 4, 2011 - By Stephen Johnson

California Senator And Two Psychiatric Groups Petition The Supreme Court Over Violent Video Game Law

Respected Conservative columnist Phyllis Schlafly has some action items that she like to see the new crop of Republican senators focus on in 2011. While many of the New Year's resolutions in her recent column focus on actual policy ("Voting shall be on Election Day with photo ID required," "Out-of-pocket medical expenses shall be tax deductible," "We must build an army of atomic super-robots to enslave mankind") there is one item that sticks out:

"There shall be no sale, rental or arcade-playing of extremely violent video games by children without parental consent. Explanation: Video games are increasingly graphic and harmful."

I guess we've solved all the real problems, because Schlafly would rather politicians focus on imaginary violence that happens to cartoon people in fake worlds than deal with actual, complicated issues like governing.

At the risk of being overly analytical and pedantic, the problem with Schlafly's statement is the "harmful" part. Conservative types love to offhandedly point out the harm that video games do to children as if it is self-evident, but in reality, there's no real indication of any actual harm caused by games, violent or otherwise. While there is a ton of research into the effects of video games on all age groups, the results tend to be contradictory, and the effect (if any) of games on anyone isn't really understood. Maybe it can't be understood because it's impossible to separate the influence of playing games (if any) from the countless other activities that make up a normal child's life. Of course little things like facts don't stop Schlafly and her ilk from trying to legislate morality and score easy political points from a mis-informed public.

Ideology aside, enacting laws that keep kids from playing games can't be done. The government could only enforce some parental consent rule by banning the sales or rental of violent video games to kids, which means setting up a government body that judges which games are "extremely violent" and an enforcement arm that punishes people for selling them to minors. That all adds up to censorship, and censorship is unconstitutional, so it's not going to happen. 

Please, Phyllis Schlafly and the rest of the politicians and pundits out there on all sides of the political spectrum: Stay out of our games. Stop wasting our time and taxpayer money trying to solve imaginary problems, and go back to trying to repeal health-care or whatever you guys are about, okay?

Source: Town Hall

Conservative Columnist Puts Video Games On Agenda
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