While Rhode Island Bill S.2156 drew backing from the Parents Television Council, an unlikely pair has come out against the Bill, which proposes fines and possible jail time for retailers that sell “M” or “AO” rated games to underage patrons.
You might expect that the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) is against the Ocean State legislation. The organization offered us this statement from Rich Taylor, ESA Senior Vice President of Communications & Industry Affairs:
The ESA is opposed to this bill and we are educating those involved about the strong work of the ESRB and the self-regulatory successes that recently were lauded by the Federal Trade Commission. This bill is the same as all the other legislative proposals found unconstitutional by numerous federal courts. We are ensuring legislators understand and appreciate the fundamental problems that arise when trying to circumvent the first amendment rights of gamers and our industry’s innovative storytellers and creators.
The Bill’s other detractor? None other than Jack Thompson, who called it, “clearly unconstitutional.” Asked to clarify his comment, JT told us:
Since 1930, it has been unconstitutional to restrict the sale of entertainment products to anyone based upon a private sector standard, which the ESRB ratings are. There has to be a definition, description of the material and why it is offensive in the statute itself, so that a jury can apply a state/governmental standard, not a private sector rating. The Bill
won’t survive a court challenge, nor should it.
I actually have litigated these issues. Seems to me you should report the fact that even Jack Thompson knows this one won’t fly. Think I’m not going to help the legislature get it right?
Thompson did indicate, however, that he is attempting to advise Rhode Island legislators on how to amend the Bill in order to make it passable.