Nothing makes me more nauseous than cries for government intervention in order to “Save the Children”. The latest effort to promote an ever-more paternalistic government comes from California Democrat Joe Baca, who’s introduced legislation making it a crime to sell graphically violent or sexually explicit video games to kids without parental consent (as reported in this MacCentral article)
On its face, most people will probably agree with this. After all, we wouldn’t want 12 year olds getting their hands on Grand Theft Auto, with all of its over the top violence, car-jacking and other assorted crimes, now would we? I know I wouldn’t want my kids playing it, but as parent, I’d make sure my kids weren’t playing it. Not just as my house, but at their friends houses as well. Because hell, that’s what parents do.
Now we’ve already got a fair amount of censorship floating around for kids — “R” ratings for movies and such, all based on the assumption that if parent’s can’t watch their kids 24/7, then Big Brother should pick up the slack (and thus, force everyone else in society to play parent to your kids … after all it takes a village to raise a slacker…)
But this goes above and beyond merely rating what’s “inappropriate” for kids. This states outright that violence is bad for kids, causes violence in schools (a la the dweebs in Columbine being inspired to massacre their classmates after playing Doom), and therefore, must be kept out of the reach of kids … unless their parents say its ok.
Of course, this is only the beginning. How long until its decided that if this stuff is bad for kids, and if you — as a parent — choose to let them play it, that you are a bad parent? How long until the infamous “zero tolerance” for violence stretches its long, sickly arms out of the schools, and into our homes, not in the name of “censorship” — that would be bad — but in the name of “education”?
Isn’t this, after all, the logical extension of the “War on Violence?” If something’s been identified as bad for kids by the Powers That Be, then why should any kid — even if under adult supervision, even if a parent is supervising and believes their child to be responsible — be exposed to it?
How long until having a copy of Grand Theft Auto 3 in your home is grounds for having your kids taken away?
Some folks might say (and knowing my readership, someone probably will) Ken — that’s a slippery slope fallacy. That would never happen. After all, it didn’t happen with movies right?
Yes … and no. This is a different battle than just what’s “inappropriate”. This it is an alleged public health issue, which makes censorship all the more palpable to the masses.
After all, when was the last time you publicly let your kid have a sip of beer? Or let your 18-year-old have a glass of wine? And if you didn’t, was it because you were afraid the kid wasn’t mature enough … or because you were afraid that someone might find out and report you to the authorities?
So we banned minor alcoholic consumption — and extended it to 18-to-21 year old adults — on the basis of “public health”. That’s just about kids getting drunk — anti-gamers like Baca are trying to prevent massacres.
And if they can do that with video games, how long before they extend it to comics? Like, say — DC’s The Dark Knight Strikes Again, which depicts Batman launching a violent revolution against an totalitarian American government exactly like the one that Rep. Baca might long for? Or role-playing games, which frequently include all sorts of violent acts against the forces of evil (both human and non-human)? Or movies? How long until taking a kid to see The Matrix — or even simply having a copy of it in your home — is considered reckless endangerment of a minor?
The answer of course, is not long at all. Just look at the Tobacco Wars. The Powers That Be haven’t tried to ban tobacco sales — they simply made it a public health issue, and managed to secure all sorts of censorship and payoffs based on the “protect the children” scam. And now there are those that advocate applying the same tactics to junkfood, and for the same reasons.
No folks, it’s not a question of if. It’s only a question of when … unless we choose to fight it by letting folks know that the “save our kids” dodge ain’t going to work this time.
As for the kids? As always, it’s the parents who make the biggest difference. No, they can’t watch them 24/7, but if they’ve instilled the right values in them they shouldn’t have to. I say this from experience, because that’s exactly what my parents did.