Where the Presidential Candidates Stand on Video Game Legislation

December 10, 2007 -
GamePolitics readers are obviously quite interested in where the presidential candidates of both parties stand on video game issues.

But so far, there hasn't been much hard information available on this topic.

Now, watchdog group Common Sense Media has helped fill in the blanks. As reported by Jacques Steinberg of the New York Times:
Common Sense reached out to a dozen prominent candidates seeking the Democratic and Republican nominations... to ask about the policies they’d imagine implementing in regard to children and the media.

In addition to Senator Edwards, three others responded by the organization’s deadline... former Governor Romney, Governor Richardson and Senator Barack Obama.

Senator Edwards and Senator Obama and Governor Richardson said that they’d be more inclined to let the video game industry try to police itself... than to have the government regulate [violent game sales], at least as a first step.

Governor Romney, by contrast, suggested that “we get serious against those retailers that sell adult video games that are filled with violence and that we go after those retailers.”

Mitt Romney's response is no surprise. A Romney campaign ad earlier this year lumped video games into an "ocean of filth" in which today's children are supposedly swimming. And while she did not make the deadline for the Common Sense Media survey, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton has been a high-profile critic of game violence - and Hot Coffee - over the years.

According to the NYT report, Clinton, along with Republicans Mike Huckabee and John McCain, expressed interest in participating in the survey but did not respond by deadline. Only Rudy Giuliani flat-out refused to participate. But his kids are older and apparently aren't on good terms with the candidate following his messy divorce from their mother.

CSM founder Jim Steyer plans to invite the eventual presidential nominees to a national forum on media issues next fall. That sounds a bit optimistic given that the fall of 2008 is crunch time in the run-up to the November election.

Detailed breakdown of candidate video games responses here.

Comments

I wonder what a bigoted atheist would burn in the yard of a Christian?

@ Erik

A bible or if we are lucky themselves

@ Pandralisk

People like you are why the world is messed up. I personally have no problem with Christianity despite its problems. Christians have done alot of good in the world and yes they have done alot of bad but name me one group that hasn't.
More importantly it is wrong to judge an entire group by the few.
Don't you know there is a (insert possibly racist word here) in every bunch?

@Pandralisk

Good. I'm one of them. Ish.

The faith isn't evil, it's how you choose to interpret it. I personally think the Bible isn't worth using as toilet paper, 'cause it was written by a few hundred morons across 1500 years. Before Science.

@Black

Careful now, don't be so hasty to refuse the bible. The Bible is the only thing that makes your faith claims potentially more true than the belief that the universe was shitted from the anus of an omni-dimensional space worm, =P.

Pandralisk
Meh gold fish goldfish!

Shaesyco
Hes no worse than thos of faith that monger hate, he could dial back on the whole bible thumper approach and go with reason and logic to dismiss organized religion as causing more troubles than it fixes :P

@Pan

I don't believe either, personally. I'm no Fundamentalist. I wouldn't even call myself Christian if they didn't believe in the same God as me.

And I use the term "same" very loosely.

@BlackIce

I see that Pandralisk is a man (or woman) of contradiction. He says he hates those who attacks the citizens rights, but he's as venomous (if not more) as them in his attacks against Christianity.

As I said before, the REAL smart peoples are those who can make compromises (including to their faiths) and understand both sides of the question. To me, Obama seems the most reasonable from the three (which is, I think, not saying a lot).

And Pandralisk, saying the religion is the core of the problem is as ignorant as saying video games is the core of the problem. No matter the issue, THERE IS NEVER A SINGLE FACTOR.

[...] The subject of video games has been fair game for politicians, especially when they need an excuse for disturbed children. GamePolitics is a site that tries to cut through to those issues. Two interesting articles, in the last week, were citing the policies of American presidential candidates on restrictive video game legislation and the European video game developers who issued a manifesto for more representation and less restrictions. Video games are getting more into the spotlight of society and out of the shadows of arcades. How that subject matter is covered and controlled by politics will largely be a matter of how well people in the industry take control of it. [...]

@Pandralisk

You know, you might hate Christianity less if you actually knew what it was. Not only are pretty much all your accusations based on Mosaic Judaism, you pad your argument with fabrications, a complete lack of historical, political, and social context, inaccurate concepts to base your thought process on, and an inability to differentiate the old (politically motivated) church teaching from actual Christianity.

But most Christians have the same problems, which is why I dislike dealing with them. Religion always works better in theory than practice.

@Pierre

But have I ever advocated revoking the rights of Christians to practice their religion freely or presented a serious argument for censoring their religion? You fail to see the distinction between attacking a right and attacking a normative substance that the right protects. I have yet to see a hardcore religious critic of this industry who denounces "adult games" create passionate defenses of the right to play extremely violent and sexual games. Some may exist, but it still does not excuse the superstition that underpins their values.

@Rigor

I'd hate it much less if: 1. It was true or possessed valid evidence for its claims. 2. Parts of it did not contradict itself. 3. Parts of it were not objectively and horribly evil. On the contrary, I'm actually quite formalist in my conceptual evaluation of Chrisitanity: most of my critcism centers around parts of the Bible itself. It's quite sad that a historical consideration of the religion would paint a far darker picture.

Everything works better in theory rather than in practice.

Ironic that Romney condemns violent games when he erroneously and off-handedly called himself a "big-game hunter." I wasn't aware the First Amendment had a target on its back Senator.

Pierre-Olivier
Part of the problem prehaps, when anything is used a crutch it tends to create them.
You are right to say there is never one single factor, ignorance + intolerance of anything + easily led = trouble for all, but only a small proration of those with faith are truly ignorant the main problem is being easily led because no one wants to do anything, I suppose thats how society always has been though.......

Why is everyone so offended about the "fundamentalists" comment? In all the previous cases of media-scapegoat (Comics, DnD...) much of the misinformation was floating around in the fundamentalist church communities for a long time after everybody else stopped worrying.
It just seems reasonable to me that we should try to get a dialogue with the more reasonable members of the group (believe me they are there, theyre just less loud) and try to quell the ignorance so we wont have to deal with the same kind of thing that the DnD people have had to. To this day there are people who think it is satanic - i say we try to avoid that.

Canada is looking better and better to me :).

@Pandralisk

You have no idea what you are talking about. I never said, and have never advocated, treating people with anything less than respect. The fact that you're so blinded by your own ignorance and hate makes anything you have to say null and void.

Demanding of anyone that they seperate their faith from their politics essentially represents a "religious test" qualifier for people running for office and THAT is unconstitutional. Kindly take your anti-religios diatribes somewhere else because its no longer amusing. Its sickening and I'm tired of it.

@Pandralisk

America was founded by god fearing types. Our civil liberties reflect this. It is written into our laws and reflected in our social values.

This is a Democracy. The needs/desires of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one. And you sir are virulent minority. If you don't like it you are invited to get the hell out.


Back to the topic. Politicians are people (sorta) and have the own personal values (sometimes).

The reality is closer to politicians being shallow and easily swayed. Those who speak against (or for) games will do so for as long as they think it will garner them the needed/wanted support/votes. When no longer needed they will likely toss the issue aside like an old toy and go off to pursue more pressing (ie vote getting) matters.
I have yet to see a tried and fast rule for Liberals and Conservatives and their "stance". If the people (bless their black hearts) in their area (or their supporters like CSM) feel a certain way about games then it is all but guaranteed the politician will as well. Presenting themselves as being for/against a thing to make the serfs happy (read: vote for them). It is rare that personal opinion comes into this (as far as I can tell) personal opinion tends to get them laughed at or mocked like Liberman or resented like H. Clinton.

Politicians rarely rock the boat and all but never try to go against the current.

@ jkdjr25

"I think what you’re asking is unreasonable. People of faith can’t just turn it off because you happen to disagree with their decision making abilities. Plus its unconstitutional to ask them that. They have the right to freely express and practice their faith."

Ironic that you claim this to be "unconstitutional" when the Constitution does, in fact, call for a separation of church and state. It's one of the most fundamental principles upon which our government is founded, for which I'm extremely grateful (even if certain politicians like to ignore it).

If you want evidence as to why religion informing secular decisions is a bad idea, look no further than the middle east. Theocracies are a terrible, terrible idea; there are just too many notions imbedded in the ancient religions of the world that have no place in modern, civilized society that become law. Women's rights, anyone? Not if you live in a Muslim-controlled theocracy.

Secular decisions must be based on LOGIC, not faith. You can pray to whichever deity you choose that events turn out however you wish, but do NOT make your political decisions based on the tenets of your religion, unless they are justified by something grounded in logic as well. Thou shalt not kill? Great, keep it, there's plenty of LOGIC behind that one. Women shall not expose their faces outside the home?

...what?

No. Just, no. Faith != logic.

"What you’re asking would be like telling an artist to stop being an artist when making a decision. They wouldn’t be able to do so and they shouldn’t have to."

Completely faulty analogy. This would be akin to asking an artist to design a building for people to live in, and telling him that it must conform to specific standards of structural integrity, rather than simply being "beautiful". Not to mention that, much like "right" and "wrong", what one person considers "beautiful" is not universal to everyone.

"A person’s faith is a part of everything that they do and every decision that they make. It would be a violation of that faith to make a decision that went against the things they believe in. So the only way to get what you want would be to ban anyone but athiests and agnostics from running for office, and THAT is definitely both unconstitutional and discrimination at its worst."

Wrong again. What is unconstitutional, and discriminatory, is forcing the beliefs of one person on the masses, which is what happens when people use their personal faith to make political decisions that become national policy. If you can't make a decision without letting the tenets of your religion dictate your policy, then no, you don't belong in public office. But that absolutely does not mean only atheists and agnostics are qualified. It means that only they or people of faith who can divorce their faith from their politics are qualified.

for an example of what Lumi means:

you may be personally against unwed mothers, but you can't make it illegal.

@Conejo and lumi

Maybe its just me but I don't seem to recall ever seeing a law up for vote in the congress to make women conceal their faces or to make unwed mothers illegal.

That's because there's this thing called common sense. Its basicly understanding when something, like trying to make being an unwed mother illegal, is a colossaly stupid idea.

Pure logic isn't always the best course of action. It must be tempered by faith in order to come to the best conclusion. Remeber that logic and faith are not anathema to each other. The two can often co-exist, sometimes you need faith when logic fails; but that's another issue entirely.

Yay for Barack! Boo for Mitt "The Snake" Romney!

lumi
Well said!

my 1 cent extra

Replace religion with emotion and you get the same end result, one cannot do something against the grain and logic, one must do what’s best for all not just for a few.

For instance abortion and gay rights/marriage, the state does not have a compelling reason to block gay rights/marriage that should be between individuals and church's as for abortion that should be regulated like any other operation the only care of the gov is that it’s done correctly and without harm to the patience to blindly inject moralisims into a personal place for a woman ..nay individual is insulting to society as a whole..

Thank you Edwards for some *ahem* Common Sense. Too bad he's too liberal on terrorism and foreign policy. Same with Obama. Richardson has shot up even more in my book.

Right now, I'm going with Giuliani. It's a good sign he didn't seem gung-ho about this as an issue. I have a feeling it won't be on his agenda.

Duncan Hunter is also one who wants to try regulating the industry. And Alan Keyes is in the race if you haven't somehow uncovered the fact, and he's also pushing it as part of his moral agenda.

Well romney lost my vote and I thought he did pretty well in the debates. Oh well.

@ Evan
I never said I was a friend of Edwards, I hate the man.

@ jkdrjr25:

"Maybe its just me but I don’t seem to recall ever seeing a law up for vote in the congress to make women conceal their faces or to make unwed mothers illegal."

That is because:

1. You don't live in the early 20th century here; took awhile before "common sense" included women's rights.
2. You don't live in one of the many middle eastern countries where woman are basically treated as property, and the two issues you quoted from me are indeed reality.

These are extreme examples and not (currently) issues in the United States, but that doesn't change the fact that they are direct results of the law being dictated by the tenets of the ruling party's (or individual's) faith.

Conejo and Zippy both offered perfectly legitimate examples of this.

Heh, never thought I would agree so readliy with Pandralisk, but he/she is correct when saying that no-one should be making decisions that have wide effects based soley on their beliefs. Any such decisions should be based soley on logical grounds, eg. ZippyDSMlee's statment on abortion.

Politicians are welcome to say that they personally find the practice abhorrent as long as they don't use this belief to undermine the rights of those who disagree with them.

My personal view on abortion is if you don't have a vagina you shouldn't have a say in the matter.

I guess that nobody really gets the idea of the First Amendment, oy. That, and they should just keep pressuring the ESRB to enforce itself since it's the best means of escape, oy.

Okay, my last post was off topic.

Back on topic(ish), I think serious consideration should be given to a testing system for politicians. You want to pass legislation about video games you should first be tested to make sure you fully understand the subject you are talking about.

No pass, no say on the subject.

That, or perhaps a test for any legislation as to wether it is actually required and wether the legislation would actually be effective.

This approach should save a lot of time and money.

Dude I always liked Obama(I am not black or racist) and now I have another reason to like him. It is fiotting to see a political figure saying to let the industry police itself! Obama 2008!

@ConstantNeophyte

Sry to be off-topic, but i have to disagree. The baby IS 1/2 the father's...so why should the decision be left solely to the mother?

ex) What if the guy truly wants the baby while the girl doesn't? or vice-versa? It wouldn't be fair to just kill MY baby because the chick wants it dead, it is half mine

On-topic, i have listened to Ron Paul talk about 1st ammendment rights, i like his ideas and position

@Icehawk

"America was founded by god fearing types. Our civil liberties reflect this. It is written into our laws and reflected in our social values."

Funny. Must I really quote the obscene amount of literature that counters this statement? There are countless letters from both Washington and Jefferson that refute this statement, an offical statement by John Adams authorized by one the earliest Congresses, and the religious beliefs of many Presidents [including Lincoln] have either challenged or deviated from the overwhelming majority of Christian dogma and the theistic state you seem so eager to promote.

This is a liberal democracy that grants people with equal rights before the law. Ever tried reading that thing called the Constitution? Remember, your obscenely overgeneralized appeal to Utilitarianism [could this same argument not justify slavery?] violates virtually every precedent established by civil rights in this country: 14th amendment, seperation of Church and State clause, and 19th amendment to name just a few.

@Hkdjr25

Stop imposing your religion on other people, seriously. You need to stop thinking that religious politicans you support, like Huckabee, should have the right to strip people of their personal beliefs, values, and moral norms through injecting religion into politics. I know as an Evangelical Christian you might not have a problem with current politicans injecting their religious values into legislature, but you must understand that this has never, is never, and will never be a Christian nation.

Would you be so quick to defend religion in the government if radical Islamic leaders were elected into goverment and then began passing anti-Christian laws that challenged your values because their faith demands it? Religious values are too vague, superstitious, and potentially evil to govern the lives of people. We are a nation organized under a secular government that uses secular principles to ensure that you will continue to enjoy the right to be as superstitious and hateful as you wish [and you're doing a terrific job at both].

I more than understand Pandralisk's hate for petty moralisims but it's just that it goes beyond religion to petty and shallow trains of thought.


chadachada(123)
Then perhaps you should think about what you are doing before you crawl into someone pants….

Sadly that’s for the courts to decide case by case, if one cannot fully take care of the child it defaults to the mother’s decision to end the pregnancy or not, you are only truly half of the equation near and after birth and have limited say in how another individual dose with their body pre birth.

Sometimes things are better left dead, there is so much life and death in the world to whine over every little thing is quite pompous and foolish, if a relationship can not bring a child into the world into a stable environment then why risk that life becoming corrupted by instability it’s a simple case of damned if you do damned if you don’t.

Life is harsh there is no getting around the issue and white washing it clean by claiming a higher ground and forcing the woman to have the child its her body first and foremost if the father can prove he can raise the child in a stable environment by himself then maybe via the court things can be arranged, this is basically a property matter until the 3rd trimester or near birth.

I realize I am simplifying but frankly someone has to remove some emotional and questionable religious motivations but look at crimes of passion and how they are treated differently from in cold blood crimes, one must be mature and see both sides and what the law can impose on the issue.

Umm...at the risk of being off-topic for the actual conversation going on, but on-topic for the article, it's nice to see some candidates approaching the video game "issue" from the right end. Let the industry do their thing BEFORE trying to spend taxpayer money on things they don't understand.

I only hope that more of the candidates will actually look into the state of videogame ratings rather than acceptng the word of sensationalist organizations or those decidedly anti-videogame organizations. It would be nice to see the next president actually learn something about a topic he/she wanted to legislate beforehand.

That, and we're safe if they do, since the real world is full of evidence that the ESRB's ratings are considered more detailed and accurate than movie ratings (mainly because they are), that the Internet is already full of plenty of resources for parents, and that basically no scientific evidence exists of true harm due to videogames while plenty exists of their benefits.

It's hard to chose who to support (though I'm probably going to vote Democratic) because well how do we know they will uphold the Constitution and everything it stands for? What if what they are saying what we want to hear? There are so many grey areas. Today it just seems so hard to trust politicians ever since the "Patriot" Act and some terrible decisions with war. Can't we all get along with other nations despite their beliefs and ideals?

Ah, yes, "divorce faith from politics", that good old argument, backed up by ridiculous strawmen examples.

A person's faith, assuming it is actually real and not just an act, will effect all of their views, including their moral views. And there is no way to seperate thier faith from their morality. So to divorce faith from politics is to force anybody of faith to divorce their moral views from politics. Sounds good to some of you, right? At least until you consider what moral views actually are: a person's views on what is right and wrong. So all of you who are arguing that a person should not let his faith influence his politics are essentially saying that a person's views on what is right or wrong should have no effect on his politicial views. Yah, that will certainly help politics in the US.

All a person of faith really needs to do is understand the role of the government. It is not the role of goverment to enforce all of God's laws or even get involved in some things. For example, while I belive adultery is immoral, I would never ever want the government to get involved in it. Because it's not the role of the government to do that. But I don't have to divorce my faith from my politics to have that view; rather, my faith actually effects my view on what the government should be dealing with and my belief that it shouldn't get involved in that.

Recognizing what the government should and shouldn't do is not the same thing as completely divorcing faith from politics. People need to understand this, even if some of you might wonder why the distinction is so important.

@Pandralisk
"[if] Parts of it were not objectively and horribly evil"- you've said statements somewhat like that in the past, and now that you've said it plainly, I have to wonder.

You believe in objective moral values of right and wrong. Or else you couldn't have made that above statement.
You also are apparently agnostic. (You say you aren't an atheist.)
So... where exactly do you believe those objective moral values come from?

Pandralisk
Couldn't it be more than the separation of church and state keep the church and their hierarchies from Washington but not so much personal faith.

The trouble of coarse is when dose religion become a burden on goverment, if its zero tolerance to religion you are going for thats automatic fail, zero tolerance in anything is a joke.

BTW liberal democracy? not even we are democratic republic with laws created by the elites of society to govern the nation, basically whatever group has the most power/money in society can nudge the goverment in the direction they chose, it just happens Christianity has the largest numbers at least in the elites of soscity large numbers.. prehaps that whats your pissed about that any large group of people can in fact side line the goverment by changing it bit by bit over the years.

Nice Islamic straw man there too.

For me I do not care what demon they worship as long as they can don't summon him while I am still living :P

@pandralisk

Dude. You are seriously egging on the wrong person with this issue.

I do not impose my faith on others and I take offense at the accusation. Talking about and sharing one's faith is not imposing it, and I am really fragging tired of hearing that it is.

The above story had NOTHING to do with Christianity. You inject it into every issue because you are a bigot and a zealot. Fanatical atheism isn't a good thing either sport. Think on that a bit before you try and lambast me for having principles that I can not and will not be moved from.

I'm a free speech advocate and have been since I started posting here. Ask around. I've defended people's right to say stupid things at the same time I said I disagreed with them. Most Christians do the same. Now knock it off.

seperation of Church and State clause

Could you actually, umm post a link to that specific clause? Now, I'm not talking where it says 'Congress shall make no law.. concerning religion' - I mean 'separation of church and state' specifically?

Mad_Scientist
I am not saying there needs to be a zero tolerance approach to the removal of faith/religion from politics, merely a real effort to look at things logically without defaulting to "ZOMG SIN".

Objectiveness is everything for me to vote for a overtly faithful politcaion.

Alright after reading several comments I just have to say that everyone needs to shut up about religion. As an atheist I support Seperation of Church and State. This pretty much means that the government should not and cannot support one religion over the other. However, there are some politicians who would rather blatantly ignore this (I'm not saying anyone in particular). It's just sometimes a politician's religion or beliefs will get in the way of what is morally correct.

This article is in no way about religion and it shouldn't be. Pandralisk, you do not need to be bashing anyone just because they believe in (beg pardon) a supernatural being based on books and scriptures. So everyone just shut up about religion unless it pertains to the article above.

@ZippyDSMlee

You may not be saying that, but some seem to take things that far, or almost. And one someone says a statement like "you need to divorce faith and politics", or something similar, it can be hard to know exactly how far they intend for that statement to carry.

Many people also mischaracterize certain debates as religious issues. Like abortion. Many people believe abortion is killing, and come to that view for reasons that have nothing to do with religion. Many people who view abortion as killing but who are also religious would still have that view regardless of what their faith was. And yet, to so many people, abortion is just an issue of "religious nutjobs forcing their morality on women."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Separation_of_church_and_state_in_the_Unite...

heres the wiki, a quick read it's basically to keep goverment from imposing on religion and creating freedom of religion and the rights of the population regarding religion, not so much about protecting goverment from religion which now that I think about it is only soemthign we have actively done for the past 30-50 years, PCisim is a btch!

anyone want to point out none vague statements saying religion must be kept from goverment?

Mad_Scientist
True true,however its still imposing on women a view that a cluster of cells that might(50-90% chance) turn into a fully functional human is still a unacceptable view if banning or sever limitations are a "option".

@ZippyDSMlee

Eh, I don't really want to turn this thread into an abortion debate, it's off-topic enough as it as, but at least you recognize that it's not just a religious issue.

Back on the original topic, I noticed how if you read the in-depth responses, none of the canidates seemed to have THAT strong a view against government regulation of video game content. Still, at least they weren't all openly supporting it.

Mad_Scientist
my bad I have to many wrecked trains of thought :P

suffice to say anyone who thinks of goverment censorship as a choice is off my list,anyone who thinks banning gays or abortion is also off my list.

So now I have
1.Ron
2.Edwards/Obama
3.Anyone but Hiltery/Rudy/Ronmy/Thompson

@jkdjr25

Supporting politicans who arrive at political stances solely because their faith warrants their beliefs [ie: opposing and desiring to censor fictional forms of violence and sex, denying homosexuals equal rights, attacking sexually oriented buisnesses, curbing scientific research to perserve formless aggrations of cells, etc.] IS a form of injecting your personal religious values on other people. Imposing your faith on others occurs any time to government enacts a law, created to enforce moral norms derived from religion, that takes away the freedom of a person: be it striking down the rights of homosexuals, regulating the content of video games, stripping women of their rights, stopping stem cell reseatch, etc.

The above story has EVERYTHING to do about religion. Where do the moral systems of fundamentalist politicans who label video games as an “ocean of filth” and call for censorship come from? It's not like they're citing the categorical imperative or making an argument from utility.

@Mad
I tend to follow a very loose form of Kantian ethics [primarly the principle of autonomy wed with the harm principle] that drops much of the universality baggage that made Kantian ethics so contentious. Instead of defending my ethical thoughts through the maxim of universality, I usually opt to demonstrate epistomogical uncertainty and then create a pragmatic argument from it.

GP: Pandralisk - it's time to stop bashing on religion. This isn't the place for that. Stick to topic going forward.

Wow, I leave for a bit and the thread goes crazy.

@ Mad_Scientist

Decisions shouldn't be made on a moral basis but on a logical one.
 
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