Is it just me, or with hurricane season starting up again, does it seem like the state of Louisiana would have more pressing issues on its plate than video game violence? Apparently they don’t think so down in Baton Rouge, where the Louisiana state legislature has passed a bill (PDF) that will prohibit the sale of some video games to minors.
Under the terms of HB1381, sales of a video game to children would be prohibitied if the title
- "Appeals to the minor’s morbid interest in violence" according to "contemporary community standards,"Depicts violence inappropriate to minors according to "prevailing standards" in the adult community, andLacks "serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors."
Those selling such games to minors could be fined a minimum of US$100 and be sentenced to a year at hard labor.
The bill has cleared both the State Senate and House of Representatives, and is now on the way to the desk of Governor Kathleen Blanco. She is expected to sign the bill into law.
Although it was sponsored by Rep. Roy Burrell (R), the bill was actually written by none other than self-aggrandizing video game crusader Jack Thompson. Thompson apparently testified in the state legislature on behalf of the bill, apparently forgetting to inform lawmakers that the bill would be dead on arrival due to First Amendment issues. Thompson and anti-videogame demagoguery go together like curdled milk and stale cookies, so it’s no surprise that he was involved in crafting the legislation. Unfortunately for the state of Louisiana, his record is less than exemplary and while he’s good at pressing buttons, his ability to actually accomplish meaningful change has been less than minimal.
Once HB1381 is signed into law, you can expect the Entertainment Software Association to quickly file suit to block the law. It’s a near certainty that the courts will bar enforcement of the law due to First Amendment concerns, as the law is similar in scope to those shot down in Illinois, California, and Michigan. It’s a shame that a state like Louisiana, which is facing the huge financial burden of rebuilding after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina is going to end up squandering much-needed tax dollars on defending a lawsuit it can’t win. At least Jack Thompson gets to be in the news again; that seems to be the number one item on his agenda.