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Violence in Video Games

So, I saw this news come out of St. Louis and it just got my dander right up (ladies).

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – A Republican lawmaker from rural Missouri is calling for a sales tax on violent video games in response to a deadly Connecticut school shooting.

Rep. Diane Franklin, of Camdenton, said Tuesday that the 1 percent sales tax would finance mental health programs and law enforcement measures to curb mass shootings.

The tax would be charged on video games rated teen, mature, and adult only by the Entertainment Software Rating Board.

Franklin’s proposal is the latest in a string of measures in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that killed 20 students and six adults. Another Missouri Republican has filed a measure allowing teachers to carry guns in the classroom.

Similar legislation to tax violent video games failed in Oklahoma and New Mexico in recent years.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am a nerd*. A big one. And I do not approve of Franklin’s message. It is simply irresponsibility on the part of parents to blame video games on violent acts like the tragedy at Sandy Hook. You see, I grew up with a Super Nintendo. I had Mortal Kombat. I made Sub-Zero rip out people’s spines. Now, because I liked Sub-Zero, does that mean I got a bunch of liquid nitrogen and tried to freeze people? Did playing as Reptile make me want to throw acid in people’s faces?

I also took part in other violent games. Like Kingdom Hearts. Did Goofy going around beating the Hell out of people with a shield inspire to perform wacky acts of violence? No, I tell you.

Congress does, though. But that’s a different psychosis.

It is a parent’s responsibility to know what they are buying their kids. It is their responsibility to know what their kids are watching/playing/taking part in. It is their responsibility to teach a child the difference between reality and fiction. Even if the fiction is totally lifelike. If a child gets in trouble at school for wrestling with another kid on the playground, do we try to tax WWE? Of course not (although that has just as much to do with not wanting Linda McMahon to run again to repeal it as it does with simply not wanting more taxes).

It’s taxing behavior, simply put. We tax tobacco, alcohol and gambling winnings and now there is a call for taxing video games. What surprises me most is that Michelle Obama didn’t come up with it as part of her Get Your Kids The F— Outside And Eating Better campaign.

I also want to point out that what the story says doesn’t just include violent video games. A rating of “teen, mature, and adult only” is incredibly broad (as government is wont to be).

And let’s go ahead and cut off the next logical step here, because the Supreme Court has already granted video games First Amendment rights.

The case that went before the court, Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association (formerly Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association), strikes down California Civil Code 1746-1746.5, which tried to make the sale or rental of mature-rated video games to underage consumers an illegal offense punishable by fine.

The government typically has two modes of regulation: Taxing and banning. The Supreme Court has taken a stand on one, and we need to take a stand against lawmakers on the other.

 

*A bad nerd, though. I am not a Tolkien fan, though this admission will probably get me banned by Erickson.

 

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See this post and others of mine here. Follow me on Twitter: @joec_esquire

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