Massachusetts HB 1423 is a bill to ban the sale of video games to minors outright.
That’s right: under 18, you can’t buy games. Sure, you can watch Skinemax and see Hostel: Part II, but you can’t play Army of Two.
One of HB 1423’s cosponsors is Rep. Christine E. Canavan, of Brockton. ”I think this legislation is a good idea,” she told the Boston Herald. ”I don’t want this constant barrage of violence on young minds and for them to think it is all right.” It’s a good point…except that it seems to me that the games only reflect a violence that already exists in the society.
What really makes me insane is how eager politicians are to use the pop culture — not just videogames but TV, movies, even Harry Potter — as a whipping boy. It’s easy for them, even sort of fun, because the pop-cult always hollers nice and loud. Also, it allows legislators to ignore the elephants in the living room. Elephant One is the ever-deepening divide between the haves and have-nots in this country, a situation guys like Fiddy and Snoop have been indirectly rapping about for years. Elephant Two is America’s almost pathological love of guns. It was too easy for critics to claim — falsely, it turned out — that Cho Seung-Hui (the Virginia Tech killer) was a fan of Counter-Strike; I just wish to God that legislators were as eager to point out that this nutball had no problem obtaining a 9mm semiautomatic handgun. Cho used it in a rampage that resulted in the murder of 32 people. If he’d been stuck with nothing but a plastic videogame gun, he wouldn’t even have been able to kill himself.
I seriously couldn’t have put it better. We can’t ban culture any more than we can ban religion or education — they are all intangible necessities to many people, and are as important as food, water, and air to social groups. Don’t let politicians make their names by leeching off the popularity of pop culture. Don’t let fools legislate what only good parenting should enforce.