National Coalition Against Censorship Urges Utah Guv to Veto Video Game/Movie Bill

Joining those who have called upon Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman to veto HB 353 is the National Coalition Against Censorship.

A post on the NCAC website says that the Jack Thompson-conceived bill "takes a voluntary effort by manufacturers to provide consumers with information about their products and turns it into a mechanism to deprive minors of their First Amendment rights."

More from the NCAC:

This bill would hold retailers responsible for selling minors material labeled for mature audiences.  Sellers of books, movies, video games, and music could be penalized up to $2000 for “violating” age guidelines created voluntarily for informational purposes only.

This bill takes a voluntary effort by manufacturers to provide consumers with information about their products and turns it into a mechanism to deprive minors of their First Amendment rights.  By incorporating the private voluntary ratings system, it also constitutes an unlawful delegation of legislative authority to a non-governmental entity…


The bill may result in consumers getting less information.  Stores not willing to risk lawsuit or fines for violating age restrictions may simply decide not to display ratings information.  The industry as a whole could even consider dispensing with its voluntary rating system if the result is to make retailers vulnerable to lawsuits and judgments.

We urge Governor Huntsman to veto this problematic bill.

UPDATE: The NCAC has written a letter to Gov. Huntsman urging a veto of HB 353.

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  1. JDKJ says:

    You’ve never heard or seen "Rating: PG13 – No one under 13 admitted without parent" as part of a movie’s advertising? Here’s one example: And here’s Target’s advertised policy on sales of M-rated games: I’d imagine all the major retailers have stated a similar policy.

    Granted, statements that they will not inappropriately provide an age-recommended videogame aren’t part of most retailers’ "advertising" (as that term is commonly thought of), but they’re out there to be found . . . if you look hard enough. On the other hand, movie theaters make such statements all the time. Which could example why the theaters owners were more aggressive in their opposition to HB353 than was the videogame industry.   



  2. Erik says:

    I’ve been attempting to find any advertised statement regarding store policy on the sale of R movies or M games.  Thus far I’ve come up empty handed.  Really it is starting to seem like Jack and his bill are trying to make legally binding a statement that no company I could locate has ever made.

    -Ultimately what will do in mankind is a person’s fear of their own freedom-

  3. JDKJ says:

    Technically, the age recommendation on a Monopoly set is about as legally binding as the ESRB’s age recommendations . . . that is, not at all legally binding on anyone. And, yes, if a seller advertised that they will not sell Monopoly to anyone under the age of 8 years-old and then did sell Monopoly to someone under the age of 8 years-old as described in HB353 (i.e., sold it the number of required times, without fake ID being presented, didn’t train their staff, etc., etc.), then they would be liable. 

  4. JDKJ says:

    @Zerodash (sorry, something went wrong with the "reply" attempt):

    Technically, you have to give Morley and his colleagues in the Utah Legislature a pass for associating themselves with a notorious scumbag like Jack Thompson. It kinda isn’t their fault. Gargoyle Ruzicka put them on to Thompson and, in Utah, what the Gargoyle wants, the Gargoyle gets. Plain and simple.

    Of course, the question then becomes: what does the Gargoyle see in Jack Thompson?

  5. JDKJ says:

    Hyper-technically, that’s "pro hac vice." Translates as "for this occassion." And it’s pronounced "vee-cheh." Nothing makes me cringe like hearing it pronounced "vise."

    The "facilitate procedure, etc." sounds good in theory, but the real and unspoken reason some jurisdictions require local counsel is to ensure that out-of-state carpetbaggers aren’t taking away work from the in-state bar. In a word, "protectionism."

  6. nighstalker160 says:

    I wonder if under Utah State Law these legislators might be liable for something. Normally floor statements are protected but usually there are rules about just bald faced lying.

  7. nighstalker160 says:

    It’s called pro hoc vitae. A lawyer licensed to practice in one state can apply for permission to practice in another state for a specific case.

    Usually the applying lawyer will be required to associate with local counsel in order to facilitate procedure etc.

  8. GryphonOsiris says:

    Plausible denialbility for when he goes back to his old tactics.


    "The Good, the Bad, and the Videogame" Reviews on the best, worst, and controversial issues of Videogames.

  9. Michael Chandra says:

    Ah, now there you have an interesting point. On one hand, nothing stops you from starting an internet distribution to just get your AO game to the PC instead, on the other hand the fact the main retailers and consoles don’t dare touch the content is a reason why the government forcing an AO rating violates the free speech.

    The rating is now voluntary, and based on that voluntary system retailers act, and due to that developers. With a government rating, the rating causes developers to act directly, due to the government, not due to what other companies are doing. If the second is seen as a lack of free speech, does that mean anyone who doesn’t dare develope an OS due to not going to get a market is suffering from free speech due to Microsoft?

  10. Zerodash says:

    I am still amazed that nobody in Utah looked at Jack’s unethical track record and his disgraceful disbarrment.  Just a perusal of the Dava Tunis report (chock full with JT quotes, on the record), shows him for what an unethical, crazy, liar he is. 

    Or…they know all about what a lying slimeball he is and choose to ignore it.  Which is even worse.

  11. TBoneTony says:

    they should have killed this bill while it was still in the house.

    When the lady from the Eagle Forum started ranting off her mouth about GTA having porn, that was when there should have been someone from Take Two to explain why that Eagle forum woman was dead wrong.

    Another chance was when one of those politicians had a Book with JT on the cover and quoting his words. If there was someone from the Florida Bar inside that house, they would have been able to question the source of the Acusations.

    But it is no use in dwelling in the past, all we need to do is to watch how this all plays out in court, and the chances of this bill getting though the court system are slim to none, and that is a good thing.

    As long as we all have the proff of where the origins of this bill lies, we would have provided with critical evidence for someone to strike this bill down in court.

    And all that would be left is the headless bodies of JT, the Eagle Forum and many of the Politicians who just can’t understand where this all went wrong, because their heads would have exploded after hearing that after all their best efforts, this bill was still declared unconstitutional or even stinking with Slander and Threats from JT and the Eagle Forum.


  12. David says:

    I’m going to bet that the governor just lets the bill become law, neither signing nor vetoing it.  It’s really the only politically expedient way he has to handle it.

  13. David says:

    You’re probably right, but I’m not 100 percent certain.  If I’m not mistaken, some states allow lawyers in good standing with their bar in another state to participate in (and "participate in" is key) litigation in that particular state without having passed their respective bar exam.  It’s not terribly difficult, there is some paperwork involved, but it can be done.

  14. Michael Chandra says:

    Even if he still was a lawyer, that was in Florida, so he wasn’t allowed to practice law in Utah anyway.

  15. Erik says:

    Alcohol is harmful

    Games are not

    Any more questions?

    -Ultimately what will do in mankind is a person’s fear of their own freedom-

  16. State says:

    So does the army censor what isn’t suitable or what probably isn’t suitable? (Then again no one can categorically state what isn’t suitable, as it is always opinion). So does that make it okay for the army to censor certain images from the public?

    Also the issue with AO ratings arises again. Is it okay that Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft block AO content? They help censor this content, they prevent the developer from having freedom of speech buy not allowing the content. And the same goes for the shops that refuse to sell those games.


  17. TK n Happy Ness says:

    I wonder if these guys in Utah really want this bill passed. Jack Thompson could always file a lawsuit against them. Oh right, he’s not a lawyer anymore thanks to his agenda being exposed by the Florida bar. Plus no lawyer in their right mind would risk their career by helping a lunatic.

    When Jack Thompson runs his mouth, does anyone really care what he has to say anymore?

  18. Michael Chandra says:

    There’s quite the big difference between a company not being interested in selling me media, and the government disallowing me to access media they think I shouldn’t access. The first is a company’s choice and there are plenty of other companies out there. The second, on the other hand, is the government violating the free access of speech.

    And ratings don’t say what isn’t suitable, they say what probably isn’t suitable. There’s a difference there.

  19. State says:

    So how exactly is putting an age restriction on games restricting the minors’ right to freedom of speech (they’re not the one’s making it), aren’t parents breaching this right by not allowing them to access this content? Aren’t ratings helping to prevent this right as they state what content is not suitable to children (thus sending people in a direction to deny the child the product)? If I was a child couldn’t I say that a shop that refused to sell me a Mature game was breaching my rights?

    Doesn’t a minor have the right to freedom of speech whilst under the influence? The whole law is rather hyprocrital, whilst pretending to hold up such principles.

    If there was governmental backed research into the effects of games on children which concluded that games, for whatever reason, were indeed harmful to children, then I suspect that that would be reason enough for legislation to be introduced against games due to their apparent harmful factor. Would this then mean that there would have to a government ratings board to decide on classifications?

    Quite frankly I can’t see how this legislation would change the current legislation as nearly all shops have a policy relating to game ratings, it just seems that it would destroy the pretense of supposed rights that minors apparently have (but in reality don’t due to shops’ own policies regarding game ratings).

  20. hellfire7885 says:

    Glad these people see this bill for what it is, another censorship attempt. And yes, the chilling effect is a for mof censorship.

  21. nightwng2000 says:

    I always find it funny that age restrictions on alcohol and tobacco exist to "protect the children" when both are just as harmful to adults.  I mean, in the end, it’s no better for an adult than a child.

    Of course, I have no interest in doing either anyway.


    NW2K Software

    Nightwng2000 has also updated his MySpace page: Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as

  22. gamadaya says:

    If I was under 17 and lived in Utah, I think I would actually support this bill.


    Believe in something! Even if it’s wrong, believe in it! -Glenn Beck

  23. JDKJ says:

    I hate to be hyper-technical . . .  actually, that’s a lie. I love to be hyper-technical. So I’ll just go ahead and be hyper-technical without apology:

    In most of the United States, you have to be 21 years or older to legally purchase alcohol, while the age of majority (i.e., a non-minor) is, in most states, 18 years-old. So, technically, the law doesn’t prohibit only minors from purchasing alcohol. It also prohibits some adults from doing so.

    What difference does this make to the discussion? None. That’s why it’s called "hyper-technical."

  24. Michael Chandra says:

    Alcohol is a religion now?

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

  25. Chaplain99 says:

    Precisely.  Alcohol and smoking are both proven to have detrimental effects on the minds and bodies of minors (and adults, but that’s not the point), whereas video games are a different entity entirely.

    "HEY! LISTEN!"

  26. HelpHelpImBeingRepressed says:

    Because those items are deemed harmful by the government and not by a voluntary system?  Keeping alcohol out of minors hands has nothing to do with the first amendment, while keeping ideas that may be offensive away from minors does involve the first amendment – maybe??

  27. State says:

    So why are some items age restricted? Doesn’t the age limit on alcohol breach minors first admendment rights?

  28. Fenavian says:

    See thats a slippery slope though. Their heart was in the right place, but the execution lacks something to be desired.

  29. mdo7 says:


    All right, at least we have these guys on our side.


    Jack Thompson, PTC, and every media watchdog in America calling NCAC a supporter of corrupting the children in 3…2…1

  30. Michael Chandra says:

    The Senate and House have no chance to implement changes, meaning they can’t respond to criticism in that way. It’s either an approval now or wait a year. Furthermore, the way the bill has been defended speaks quite against it, such as blatant lies, deliberate spreading of misinformation to make it seem different than what it truly says and refusal to enter an amendment that in all ways was fair and reasonable.

    The final result is a bill that has been defended poorly, and now the proper arguments come against its defense. And it’s not on the heads on a whole bunch of people, it’s a single guy’s career at the line here. Does he act ‘for the children’, or does he act ‘for the children’? By coming with the attacks NOW, amendments have been cut away from the possibility, to sign or not to sign, no other options left… Good timing?

  31. Chaplain99 says:

    Wow.  I guess it’s easy to forget that the ESRB is just a rating board, and that a youth can LEGALLY go and buy an M-rated game if the retailer will allow it.  I’d come to see the rating system as a law in its own right, as opposed to an informative source.

    "HEY! LISTEN!"

  32. JDKJ says:

    Technically, no. HB353 focuses on advertising, and advertising is always voluntary. Because advertising is voluntary, HB353 doesn’t have the force of law on the ESRB’s rating system. Theoretically, there’s nothing stopping the retailers from completely abandoning advertisements related to the ESRB rating system.

  33. Zerodash says:

    That’s something that slipped my mind over this- would this law not give the ESRB guidelines, concieved by a non-government entity, the power of law?  It’s like the ESRB would now have the power to dictate what games can and cannot be regulated by the government.

    Jack has always hated the ESRB, but is he not aware that he may have given them more power than ever before? 

    Or is this just another in his attempts to dismantle the ESRB and replace it with…nothing?  In that case, it is congruent with his stated objectives to make games for mature audiences non-existiant. 

  34. Zerodash says:

    These people have infuence over and the support of a sizeable group of people who want these bills passed.  Think of the children.

  35. Hackangel says:

    So does this bill have any supporters besides a disbarred liar, out of touch politicians and the Utah Eagle against freedom forum?

  36. Rodrigo Ybáñez García says:

    I´m not gonna complaining about their involment but: WHERE THE HECK THEY WERE LAST THURSDAY*?

    Seriously, why everybody had to wait until this damn piece of paper got to Utah´s guv hands? They should kill it before this went too far.




    *Enciclopedia Dramatica pun. I really don´t get that Last Thursday reference.

    The cynical side of videogames (spanish only): My DeviantArt Page (aka DeviantCensorship):

  37. Firebird says:

    Considering the increase in child molesters, school shootings and the educational, moral, and economical decrease; Yeah, I’d have to agree…

    Because we know that today’s Parents (at least the way the media presents it) won’t take responsibility for shit.

    So let make rules to force others into doing what is already being implemented.

  38. nightwng2000 says:


    A hard issue when it comes to full Rights versus limited versus proxied Rights when it comes to minors.  ("Proxied Rights" as in the Right of a Parent to make decisions for children as opposed to children being free to make decisions over their Parent’s wishes.  Consent and Contractural are examples.)

    Children obviously DO have Rights.  Even the Rights to being protected from harm by their very Parents.  But, at the same time, Parents do, and should, have Rights over their own children, to make decisions they feel are in the best interests of their own children, even if by doing so some Rights of the children are limited to a degree.

    And, in some sense, this is true of the Rights of adult authority figures over children that they are guardians of, though they are not the child’s Parents.  For example:  A child’s Parent may allow them to play GTA or COD, but when the child visits or is watched over by another adult, that adult may choose not to allow the child to do so, even if the child’s Parent says it’s ok.  I’ve usually referred to this as the "not my home" stance.

    And, as I also always say "it sucks to be a kid".  🙂


    NW2K Software

    Nightwng2000 has also updated his MySpace page: Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as

  39. Shadow D. Darkman says:



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