Tony Blair Challenged in Parliament on "Bully"

October 19, 2006 -
Hard to believe, but no less a personage than British Prime Minister Tony Blair has been pulled into the Bully controversy.

Yesterday in Parliament, Labour MP Keith Vaz, a longtime critic of video game violence, put this question to Blair:
"Last Thursday, the British Board of Film Classification gave a 15 certificate to a video game formerly called "Bully". The game contains scenes of violence, including scenes of players terrorising teachers and students, teachers being head-butted and the aggressive use of baseball bats. Currys has banned it. Given the link between video games and a propensity to encourage violence that some research has demonstrated, will the Prime Minister convene a meeting of stakeholders—including representatives of the industry and parents' groups—to discuss the issue? Does he accept that this is not about adult censorship, but about protecting our children?

Blair's response: 
"First, let me praise my right honorable Friend for his work in raising awareness of the issue. I have not seen the game myself, but I know that both my honorable Friend the Minister responsible for creative industries (Shaun Woodward), and my honorable Friend who is responsible for the video industry, would be happy to meet my right honorable Friend (Vaz) to discuss the issue. It is obviously important, and I know that there is a lot of concern about it."

"I think it can be said that the video games industry, or at least a substantial section of it, has made significant advances over the past few years, but as my right honorable Friend says, it is important for that progress to be maintained."

Comments

I don't know much about Tony Blair other than what I saw in the Queen and a few NY Times articles, but he seems to be taking a reasonable approach to the Bully issue. Think about how many other politicians would have immediately sided with Vaz. He's only trying to be fair by saying that he will look into the issue. He can't just ignore the concerns of his people, however misguided they are, just because gamers disagree. I don't feel qualified to say if he's a good leader overall, but as someone who has never seen Bully, he responded fairly.

"Don’t know much about Vaz other than the fact that his name’s mud on GamePolitics."

Yea and there is a reason for that. Vaz is corrupt, simple as. He got caught taking bungs and slipped into the shadows.

Remember a couple of months back when he was last on game politics, just before there was the scandal involving cash for peerage. Notice how he seemed to go away very very quickly. The last thing labour wanted was him in full view during that as he does not have the best record with taking money for things

@Eric

Tony Blair a good leader? Allow me to follow that with continous laughter.

I despise blair and his ilk. Its his policies of taking discaplinary controls away from parents that have led to the increasingly violent gangs of kids who are rampaging around. The fact that kids are above the law is whats made our youth so violent.

I wish they'd spend more time on things like fixing that mess they've made rather than farting about with games, hell its got a 15 rating so you can get your hands on it before you're legally allowed to smoke ye smoking is proven to be bad whereas games havent, in fact to me games are theraputic.

Blair’s response:

“First, let me praise my right honorable Friend for his work in raising awareness of the issue. I have not seen the game myself, but I know that both my honorable Friend the Minister responsible for creative industries (Shaun Woodward), and my honorable Friend who is responsible for the video industry, would be happy to meet my right honorable Friend (Vaz) to discuss the issue. It is obviously important, and I know that there is a lot of concern about it.”

If you haven't seen the game yourself, don't listen to someone who hasn't seen it either.

The game contains scenes of violence, including scenes of players terrorising teachers and students, teachers being head-butted and the aggressive use of baseball bats.

Yes, just gloss over the fact that you're actually punished for these things in the game.

"“Last Thursday, the British Board of Film Classification gave a 15 certificate to a video game formerly called “Bully”. The game contains scenes of violence, including scenes of players terrorising teachers and students, teachers being head-butted and the aggressive use of baseball bats. Currys has banned it. Given the link between video games and a propensity to encourage violence that some research has demonstrated, will the Prime Minister convene a meeting of stakeholders—including representatives of the industry and parents’ groups—to discuss the issue? Does he accept that this is not about adult censorship, but about protecting our children?"

The game was given a 15 certificate. And i don't consider 15/16/17 year olds to be children as Keith Vaz tries to claim. A child to me would be something like 10 or 11 not 15 to 17.

Blair really shouldn't persue this. I would like to think, he has more important issues to attend to.

I can see it now:

Labour college: Prime Minister, we have pressing issues to discuss.

Blair: I'll get to that later.

Labour college: But sir, theres North Korea, the NHS and the issue of religous symbols in the workplace.

Blair: Yes but first I need to discuss another very important issue, the issue conserning the content of a 15 rated video game.

Labour college: O...K...

I mean come on, get some perspective.

If that isn't the politician equivalent of 'talk to the hand' I'll be very surprised.

No one over here takes Vaz seriously, corrupt as he has been shown to be.

Well I've just emailed Mr Woodward about this. I doubt it'll make any difference but at least I'll have tried.

Don't know much about Vaz other than the fact that his name's mud on GamePolitics, but his rhetoric sounds pretty similar to the tripe I read and hear Stateside. Sounds like Blair actually shunted his request off to the side, though. Seems to me that Blair likes to walk the fence on the video game issues; I can't get a bead on where he really stands. Maybe you UK'ers can help me out?

I had a less than elightening discussion with Vaz himself via email at the start of the year... it's like talking to a brick wall.

I really get frustrated when they can't drop the rhetoric for a second and actually engage you on the level. I tried my best to explain my position, and asked what I felt were important questions about his motivations, all of which were avoided completely.

I kind of expect that from politicians, but at the same time I made a big effort to be reasonable and explain myself. For Vaz to respond with immovable propaganda is just rude.

... WTF @ "Honorable friend"

The British really have a way of being polite and insulting at the same time.

@ Hank the Tank

I belive you have to call a fellow MP a "Honourable friend"

'“First, let me praise my right honorable Friend for his work in raising awareness of the issue. I have not seen the game myself, but I know that both my honorable Friend the Minister responsible for creative industries (Shaun Woodward), and my honorable Friend who is responsible for the video industry, would be happy to meet my right honorable Friend (Vaz) to discuss the issue. It is obviously important, and I know that there is a lot of concern about it.”'

That's just Blairese for 'Shut up and stop bothering me'. ;)

Hank the Tank Says:
October 19th, 2006 at 11:09 am

… WTF @ “Honorable friend”

It's called etiquette. There's quite strict rules in the House of Commons (not so sure about the House of Lords) about how you must address people, speaking in turn, and so forth.

Speeches are addressed to the presiding officer, using the words "Mr Speaker," "Madam Speaker," "Mr Deputy Speaker," or "Madam Deputy Speaker." Only the presiding officer may be directly addressed in debate; other Members must be referred to in the third person. Traditionally, Members do not refer to each other by name, but by constituency, using forms such as "the Honourable Member for [constituency]," or, in the case of Privy Counsellors, "the Right Honourable Member for [constituency]." The Speaker enforces the rules of the House, and may warn and punish Members who deviate from them. Disregarding the Speaker's instructions is considered a severe breach of the rules of the House, and may result in the suspension of the offender from the House. In the case of grave disorder, the Speaker may adjourn the House without taking a vote.
(from Wikipedia)

In keeping with tradition, the british parliament has to use a very polite lexicon when speaking. This stops people from slandering each other continually, which can be somewhat unproductive during debates (also keep in mind that the front benches are 2 sword lengths away from each other to stop them from clashing, and you get kicked out for calling someone a liar or various other insults).

'My right honorable friend' means 'member of my party', and could be submitted for 'the right honorable member for [place]' if referring to an opposition member or someone you don't particularly like.

Well last time I check this is 'Merica! and that is a 'Merican game. So none of this crumpette munching politness. 'Merica is 300,000,000 strong, romping stomping bombs and destruction and I'll be damned if so British stuffed shirt is gonna.



Aw Hell, I can't be a redneck :( It's nice to see Blair shrug off this mincer, It's like the British Jack Thompson :P

This sends a clear message. "Politics causes people to become idiots." It's an international affliction. Perhaps game playing may actually be the cure?

Obviously we've not been watching the same sessions, Aniki O,o. Most of the times I've seen them in session on C-SPAN they lived up to Robin Williams' description: "Congress with a two drink minimum". Actually there are similar rules on time, form of adress (The gentleman from xxxx) and so on in all legislative bodies, including Congress. If you want to see a popular set of rules for parliamentary procedure I suggest you hit the library and check out a copy of "Robert's Rules of Order".

And hey, M, it's been -years- since one senator beat another into unconsciousness with a walking stick over a divisive political issue. ;)

Blair won't persue this, it sounds like he doesn't care, he just wanted to say 'I'm listening and a little concerned, but I don't really care' while not sounding like a game hater. He was dragged into making a statement over 'Manhunt' a couple of years ago, he only stated that it was 'Definately not suitable for anyone under 18'.
He's always non-committal on this issue, neither annoying the Mail-reading types or the gamers of the UK.
It sounds like the PM, quite rightly, thinks that there are bigger issues to deal with.

Tony Blair: Honorably serving the Honorable Parliament of the Honorable Nation of Honorable England ever Honorably since I was Honorably elected to Honorable power in whatever Honorable year I was Honorably elected.

Were Lucky that over here, Tony Banks, the person who claimed that "videogames were worse than child pornography" has finaly died and left his legacy behing him.

Now if only Thompson and Vaz would do the same...

Chris S - Hello :)

Not annoy the Mail reader? You should know it doesnt matter what he does, he annoys Mail readers!

"Given the link between video games and a propensity to encourage violence that some research has demonstrated,"

Yeah, a correlational link, nothing more. I shouldn't have to remind you guys that such a link only proves that violent people like violent video games, not that those games cause them to be violent. Using correlational evidence, you could "prove" that bowling caused the Columbine boys to kill, since it was one of the last things they did before the massacre.

Well, to be honest, he's just sitting on the fence until he gets some idea about what way the wind is blowing, that's why he's the Prime-Minister, and Vaz is still only a whiny little MP who's trying to rebuild his reuputation after being caught in a scam ;)

BTW, correct me if I'm wrong but isn't Blair stepping down at least as far as his leadership role in the LP is concerned by next year, and won't be participating in any future elections? At this point I'm more interested in who's set to replace him.

At the rate things are going, whoever survives the battle when he leaves, to be honest.

Just like Louisiana, the UK has an initiative to try and attract more computer game industry to the country.

Unlike Louisiana, we are unlikely to make legislation which trips up our own legislation in the name of technophobia :)

Being uber-Politically correct has its advantages sometimes ;)

@GoodRobotUs

"being uber-PC has its advantages"

I disagree vehemently, but in order to make the point I'd have to go -way- off-topic for this forum. Suffice to say that the fact when -one- group can stage protests demanding mass murder and enjoy full police protection, but an individual who reverses their slogans is jailed for "causing distress", something is deeply, deeply screwed up.

Or to make a more on-topic point, it's a bit late to talk about bad legislation. You've had government censorship and prior restraint for decades in the form of the excreable BBFC. The creation of an American Board of Entertaiment Censors, a counterpart to the BBFC, would be one of the -worst- possible outcomes as far as I and I think many other people here are concerned.

“Last Thursday, the British Board of Film Classification gave a 15 certificate to a video game formerly called “Bully”. The game contains scenes of violence, including scenes of players terrorising teachers and students, teachers being head-butted and the aggressive use of baseball bats.

Completely overlooking that you are fighting bullies and other people that are hurting or harming others.
---------------------------
Currys has banned it. Given the link between video games and a propensity to encourage violence that some research has demonstrated, will the Prime Minister convene a meeting of stakeholders—including representatives of the industry and parents’ groups—to discuss the issue? Does he accept that this is not about adult censorship, but about protecting our children?

This is of coarse BS once you ban a game what has reasonable amount of violance for TEENS not kids but TEENS you have to start banning more things to protect them then you have to start banning things from adults because they don't need thos thoughts anyway... the british rateing system much like the US one has seen the game and detremned it to be teen material if you feel the need to start censoring stuff for "our" protection...don't simply don't


“First, let me praise my right honorable Friend for his work in raising awareness of the issue.

If you cant say soemthign bad dont say it at all....
-----------------------
I have not seen the game myself, but I know that both my honorable Friend the Minister responsible for creative industries (Shaun Woodward), and my honorable Friend who is responsible for the video industry, would be happy to meet my right honorable Friend (Vaz) to discuss the issue. It is obviously important, and I know that there is a lot of concern about it.”

Nothing to bad here just normal spew to say I might be interested
---------------------------
“I think it can be said that the video games industry, or at least a substantial section of it, has made significant advances over the past few years, but as my right honorable Friend says, it is important for that progress to be maintained.”


Again nothing dim or bright
-----------------

Kudos to Blair. Doesn't look like he cares at all. Which to me is indeed 'honourable' ;D

Off-topic, but this bothered me a little.

Brer Says:
October 20th, 2006 at 2:50 am
@GoodRobotUs

“being uber-PC has its advantages”

I disagree vehemently, but in order to make the point I’d have to go -way- off-topic for this forum.
You dropped one important part of his statement. The original sentence GoodRobotUs posted was "Being uber-Politically correct has its advantages sometimes ;)" (emphasis mine). That one word changes the meaning of the statement substantially, and there's no doubt that being PC can be advantageous in certain situations.

That said, I do agree with your general sentiment that political correctness has been taken too far.

If british parliment is anything like the Australian parliment (actually its the other way around)... Blair's response is basically "sod off" (though in Australia there would be more recriminations and accusations of the other sides previous mistakes on the issue).

Oddly the Australian Office for Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) has rated also Canis Canem Edit as "M", which means _recommended_ for mature audiences (15+). Now the OFLC is notoriously strict on video games - anything that would have been rated as "Restricted 18+" in another medium (we have a unified classifiaction system) is instantly, with no exceptions, not given a rating, ie banned.

Its funny how many books, movies, etc have risen to attention on this sort of controversy, just think Burroughs with Naked Lunch, D. S. Lawrence with Lady Chatterly's Lover, that guy with his shark in the tank. If these people are so keen to protect us 'proles' from ourselves, you'd think they'd have realised not to draw our attention to the salicious type of content we appreciate ; )

Parliament...

Some portions of this article sounds interesting. May be you have some links where I could read more about this topic?...
 
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