Friday, September 22, 2006

Gamer's Guide to Politics: Censorship, Gaming Legislation and Protecting Children

(Gamer's Guide to Politics is a weekly article about the most important real world political issues that impact the Gaming Industry, and the gamer communities, and what yours truly thinks we should do about it.)

Can you hear and do you care and can you see we must be free to Teach the
children to believe and make a world that we can live in. Teach your children
well, their parent's hell did slowly go by and feed them on your dreams, the
ones they picked, the ones you'll know by. (Teach Your Children - Crosby, Stills, Nash).

As a family man, father of one beautiful baby girl, these issues have a certain resonance with me. Beyond that, I can speak from a position of personal involvement, as these are factors that my wife and I consider on a daily basis. How will media effect Arianna? How do we raise our daughter with a sense of moral understanding and a foundation in right and wrong, and how much exposure do we allow to the reality and alternate reality worlds that exist in our culture?

This task is the sole responsibility of the parents. Legislators have no business in legislating morality and interceding in my relationship with my family. Video game and movie violence has been greatly vilified of late, as a cause of violence and social imbalance in young people... This is simply a blame game of the worst kind. I grew up exposed to extremely violent TV, movies and various media, yet my subliminal urge to kill has never surfaced. My parents guided and molded me into a proper social animal, just as I am doing with my child.

Recently, legislators led by Senator Joseph Lieberman passed S1902, the Children Media Research Advancement Act (CAMRA). This bill allocates government dollars to study the effects of violence in gaming, on children, with the expressed intent to follow with restrictive legislation, should the results indicate a link. To support such measures is a direct assault on the principle of free speech that this country holds dear.

So, in the interest of protecting my daughter from harm by sheltering her from violent media, these legislators would confiscate her basic and inalienable rights. What trade-off is that? Gun Control opponents have a very famous line, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people" and I think a similar link can be made here.

Children that take up arms and slay others, may play games as has been implied in the recent, tragic shooting in Montreal. However, this is a case of a social malcontent, mentally unstable and without the proper childhood guidance. Video games did not cause that shooting any more than God is responsible for the deaths of our fellow citizens on 9-11 because some mentally unstable, radical Islamic extremist claims it to be so.

So what should be done... Well, for one thing, we the gaming community must continue to educate the public that we are normal people from a wide spectrum of social backgrounds, and demographics. We must combat reactionary public policy at every turn, and counter insinuations that because we engage in or produce violent media, we are social misfits, and most critically, we much pressure our state and federal representatives to oppose radical actions that infringe on our basic rights.

  • Sen. Lieberman must go. The reasons are too numerous to list, but this guy is wrong for Connecticut and wrong for America. Do what you can to help elect Ned Lamont this November and support someone who wants to preserve basic American rights, such as free speech.
  • Call your representatives in Congress. Call your Governor. Tell them that you are responsible for your children's well being, not them, and you want them out of your computer, your TV and your personal lives.
  • Get active and get vocal. The shrill voice of the censorship shills are much more vocal than us, and they spend more money lobbying Congress. We have the votes that matter, however, and must use them.

46 days until the midterm elections... 46 days to let the political elite know we mean business... 46 days until the proponents of censorship are kicked to the curb. Volunteer, call and write your representatives, find out where they stood on S1902, and other key initiatives, and last but not least, cast your vote this November and send a clear message to Washington that THIS WILL NOT STAND!

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