Vice President Sees No Legal Hurdles in Enacting Sin Tax on Violent Media

Vice President Joe Biden thinks that it would be perfectly okay to tax violent video games. During a recent meeting to talk about strategy for enacting the president’s proposed gun legislation, Biden said that an idea floated by Reverend Franklin Graham in late April to tax violent media might be a good idea. Participants in the session told Politico that Mr. Biden said there’s "no restriction on the ability to do that; there’s no legal reason why they couldn’t."

Well except for the U.S. Constitution, oh and multiple rulings from the Supreme Court – including a little case called Brown v. EMA…

Rev, Graham (the son of Rev. Billy Graham) said that a sin tax could be applied to violent media and the funds could be used to help victims of violent crimes involving guns. Clearly the younger Graham is not like his father, who almost always avoided getting involved in politics. It is why politicians on both sides of the aisle were comfortable having him at swearing-in ceremonies and funerals over the years…

The conservative newspaper the Washington Times takes Biden to task for such a suggestion. Of course conservatives who want to throw the First Amendment under the bus to save the Second Amendment are really the ones that started this argument – or rather, they are parroting what the NRA came out with after the Sandy Hook shootings.

Thanks to PHX Corp. for the story.


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  1. Longjocks says:

    I can play this game too! I see no legal reason why they can't apply a sin tax to green jackets.

  2. NyuRena says:

    (Your URL did not work for me.)

    Maybe you're right. If more people got over "spoiling" an election and getting the "greater evil", then 3rd parties would move in fast. We do technically have to power to evict both parties in two cycles after all.

    Good thoughts.


  3. E. Zachary Knight says:

    A swing state is another matter though, and you'll need to weight your options, keep track of polls and you might still have to pick the lesser evil, but vote third party when you can.

    I would say vote for alternative candidates anyway. There is no evidence of any kind of real "spoiler effect" in todays elections. Take this analysis of the 2012 presidential elections. I wrote this specifically targeted at Oklahoma obstruction to reforming its party formation laws.

    In this, even swing states like Ohio and Florida have a hard time showing a "spoiler" of any kind. But even still, would a spoiler actually be a bad thing? I don't think so. "Spoiling" an election is one of the primary drivers of ideological shifts in candidates and parties. The Tea Party movement, while not quite a spoiler, was a similar movement that could be a spoiler as it unseated many incumbents.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
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  4. BearDogg-X says:

    That's why there should be term limits on Congress.

    Proud supporter of the New Orleans Saints, LSU, 1st Amendment; Real American; Hound of Justice; Even through the darkest days, this fire burns always

    Saints(3-4), LSU(7-0)

  5. Neeneko says:

    It actually does not matter how many people you have.  Two parties is the natural result of the math behind our particular voting system.  You can make a blip with a 3rd party but it will always stabilize back to only two.

  6. NyuRena says:

    I once felt powerless because of this, but something dawned on me recently. If you live in a "safe" state for either party, then vote third party. This way we might be able to show them that they do NOT have a "mandate from the American people" as they so often say.  (Unless you want one of the "DnR" candidates.)

    A swing state is another matter though, and you'll need to weight your options, keep track of polls and you might still have to pick the lesser evil, but vote third party when you can.

    A system where you pick the "lesser" evil will only elect evil.

  7. Cronniss says:

    Unfortunately, there are not enough people that do this to really make a difference.  Granted, there has been an increase in the number of "third party" votes in the last two decades, but not enough to really institute a change in the political structure of our country.

    (Btw, I nearly always vote 3rd party as I feel that nearly all of the candidates for either the Rep. or Dem. parties are not worthy of the offices they are running for.)

  8. Bigman-K says:

    Here is an idea. Stop voting the two-party dictatorship of the Democratic and Republican parties, and start voting for the Libertarian or some other third party instead. Both main parties are authoritarian by nature and don't give two shits about our individual rights and freedoms and liberty. They care nothing for the Bill of Rights and are constantly shitting all over it when they can.

  9. Neeneko says:

    While true it would represent content based punishment, that alone is not enough for it to be unconstitutional.

    We might be getting into somewhat uncharted waters since I can not find any example of SCOTUS ruling on a sin tax as applied to content.  The only example I could (quickly) find was state level and ended up side stepping the question by ruling that the sin tax was not 'content based' and instead was 'negative secondary effects', thus upholding the tax.

    Such a tax likely would be ruled unconstitutional, but it is not nearly as safe a bet as Brown vs EMA was.

  10. Bigman-K says:

    You would be right if you were talking about an all encompassing tax on all forms of media in general. But a tax only on violent media would be a content based form on punishment and therefore an unconstitutional abridgment of freedom of speech.

  11. MechaTama31 says:

    The amount of the burden isn't the issue.  It's the fact that it would be based on the content of protected speech.  That's completely different from, say, a tax break for hiring and developing within a particular state.

  12. Neeneko says:

    Special taxes in and of themselves do not violate the first amendment, any more then given endowments or tax breaks to some media but not others.  Increased burden is not necessarily undue burden.

  13. black manta says:

    I haven't heard much news saying so.  The ban is in full effect as far as I know.

  14. NyuRena says:

    He had his mind made up about violent media when comic books came out! He also apparently buys into reffer madness..

    Joe, just retire after the VP job is finished, once your gen dies off, this won't really be an issue. You are just fighting a losing battle and wasting political capital on nothing. Fight for something REAL!

    (You know, I think that kind of sums up a lot of the issues our government is lagging behind opinion polls on..)

  15. RedMage says:

    It's honestly impressive that cultural reactionaries using "protecting the children" as a proxy argument to suppress video games so thoroughly manage to ignore basic, widely known information. The fact that violent crime has plummeted, including youth crime? Doesn't matter. Brown v. EMA? Didn't make a difference, let's regulate games anyway.

    If there's a positive to this article, it's that at the national level, Congress probably won't care outside of blowhards like Dianne Feinstein or Jay Rockefeller.

  16. Cronniss says:

    If they want to tax violent MEDIA, then I say: GO FOR IT!

    As long as they don't forget to tax religions that use The Holy Bible, the TANAKH, the Quran, and any other book of religion that refers to violence in any way, shape or form.

    I think these politicians (and religious leaders) forget that "The Bible" contains more violence, destruction, sexual relations (including incest), and death than any (I believe) other "production" in the last 2,000 years.

    Tax that and then you can tax other violent media – as there is no other more violent "media" than religion.

  17. black manta says:

    Joe, Joe, Joe.  I like you, man.  I voted for you and Barry.  But this must be what they talk about when they refer to your penchant for putting your foot in your mouth.

    Like they always say, "You can't legislate morality."  A sin tax on violence is not, and would not, be the solution to curbing violence in the culture.  Just because it worked for Mayor Bloomberg with sodas doesn't mean you can do the same to video games.  SCOTUS would disagree with you.

    Focus on gun control.  Or better yet, focus on reforming the mental healthcare system.  That's really what's at the root of this problem.  I know the NRA has been saying the same thing, but that doesn't mean because they've said it, it should be rejected out of hand.  Like the saying goes, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

  18. sqlrob says:

    How is he anywhere near legally correct? You're going to hit all sorts of First Amendment issues unless you tax all media, irrespective of content.


  19. Neeneko says:

    He is probably legally correct, but it would still represent a beucratic nightmare that would be unlikely to actually have any net positive impact.

  20. quiknkold says:

    I'd underline what he didnt say. 
    He said no legal reason why they couldnt….what he didnt say is "no moral reason why they couldnt" morally it would be evil. Just evil. 

  21. BearDogg-X says:

    So is Franklin Graham, since the idiot can't see that he's opening Pandora's Box.

    Proud supporter of the New Orleans Saints, LSU, 1st Amendment; Real American; Hound of Justice; Even through the darkest days, this fire burns always

    Saints(3-4), LSU(7-0)

  22. Andrew Eisen says:

    "Vice President Sees No Legal Hurdles in Enacting Sin Tax on Violent Media"

    Then the Vice President is blind.


    Andrew Eisen

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