Monday, November 13, 2006

Why Bother?

Seems like an exercise in futility to me.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

This Slope Sure Looks Slippery

I'm not a fan of video games. I don't play them, and haven't done so with any regularity since the days of video arcades, featuring Space Invaders Tempest and Frogger. So I really don't have any knowledge about the game Bully. But I find the implications of this suit and the possible outcome to be quite disturbing.

The Bully is taking a beat-down. Game publisher Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. was ordered to demonstrate an upcoming video game titled "Bully" for a judge to determine whether it violates Florida's public nuisance laws. Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Ronald Friedman issued the order yesterday.

The move is a major coup for conservative Miami attorney Jack Thompson, known for his crusades against pornography and obscene rap music, and now the video game industry. He claims that the makers of the game have designed a "Columbine simulator" in Bully, which follows the life of a prep school student as he navigates the social ladders of a fictional school called Bullworth Academy.

Thompson filed the lawsuit a month ago, claiming that the game would violate Florida's public-nuisance laws, which are more typically used to prosecute environmental polluters. Besides Take-Two, the suit also names retailers Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and GameStop Corp.

"My view is that the game potentially impinges on public safety," he said. "I'm pretty sure that the game is harmful to minors."

Since the game has not been released yet, how does this idiot lawyer know that it is a "Columbine simulator", And even if it were a "shooting gallery" game set in the halls of a high school, would that make any difference from a First Amendment standpoint? After all, if the game is a public nuisance, what about movies, television shows, and music that glorifies certain sorts of anti-social behavior. Might a judge be able to declare them to be a "public nuisance" subject to special regulations or outright bans the guarantees of the US Constitution notwithstanding? Heck, I could see lawsuits declaring certain religious groups to be a "public nuisance" because of their unpopular or "intolerant" (read that "in accordance with traditional Christian teaching") teachings constituting a threat to others

A better move, from my point of view, would be to declare Jack Thompson, the lawyer in this case, to be a public nuisance, to strip him of his license to practice law, and to forbid him to file any future lawsuits seeking censorship of others.

After all, if you don't like the game then don't buy it and don't allow your kids to buy it. I realize that some folks have a real problem with such radical concepts of personal responsibility over government regulation, but it strikes me as much more important from the standpoint of balancing individual liberty over government power.