“Patently unconstitutional” not a problem for our state reps

The Illinois House voted 91-19 yesterday to approve a bill making it illegal for retailers to sell games to minors that are violent or sexually explicit. And how will retailers know which games fall under these criteria? That’s for each store to decide on its own, which will certainly lead to problems.

“You sold my little Timmy* this violent video game!”

“Ma’am, that’s Tetris.”

“But the blocks slam down so hard.”

I jest, because the law only covers human-on-human violence, which doesn’t make things any clearer (from the Tribune):

Does that mean games that merely blast space creatures are OK? asked Rep. Robert Molaro (D-Chicago).

“Killing an alien wouldn’t fall under the bill,” said Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia (D-Aurora), the sponsor.

Would that apply to all aliens or only those who “just look like humans?” Molaro then asked.

“If it’s an alien that looks like a human, which is an alien, yes,” Chapa LaVia responded.

Later, she refined her interpretation this way: “If it was an alien that pretended to be a human, I guess then it’s human. Then it would fall under this bill because it’s human against human. … How would we know he was an alien?”


And seriously, WTF is up with Chapa LaVia’s comment about violent video games featuring “defecating on people”? We play a lot of wacked-out video games in our (adult) household, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a video game character take a dump. (Conker pees on stuff, but he’s a squirrel. They, you know, do that.) And you don’t get “extra points” for sleeping with prostitutes in GTA, you just regain some health bar… and maybe I should stop now because I don’t think I’m helping the cause.

I don’t know why I’m so naive, but I am a little dismayed by this sort of, I guess you’d call it politics (from the Sun-Times):

Lawmakers from both parties called the proposal vague, poorly thought out and “patently unconstitutional,” but most of them ultimately voted for the bill, worried a no vote could lead to a ready-made attack ad during their next campaign.

Chicago Sun-Times: House approves controlling video game sales
Chicago Tribune: Debate on Violent Video Games
The Southern Illinoisan: Illinois House Approves Governor’s Violent Video Game Ban
Illinois General Assembly: Bill Status of HB4023

(via Joystiq)

3 Comments so far

  1. nikkos (unregistered) on March 17th, 2005 @ 6:41 pm

    Read this article by Jack Valenti, chronicling the evolution of movie ratings (which, btw, are completely voluntary, not law):


    Fascinating stuff. Don’t video games already have voluntary ratings? Why should video games be treated any differently than movies?

    Fight the power, Gerdes.

  2. Jerry (unregistered) on March 24th, 2005 @ 3:59 pm

    Mchl Schv’s prvt lf????

    ny clndstn ctvty???

    ny spr scrt clb mmbrshps???

    s thr ny n tht cn nvstgt ths?

    Thr s smthng mr t wrk thn n llnss n cntry wth lts f hsptls nd dctrs


  3. Fuzzy (unregistered) on March 24th, 2005 @ 5:08 pm

    OK, here’s the deal: reasonably on-topic comments, please. Thanks.

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