Joan E. Bertin, the executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship, has penned an editorial for the Times of Trenton calling on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) to reject a bill the New Jersey legislature passed this week requiring the state to publish and promote what it calls "dubious research about the effects of violent media."
In describing the legislation, Bertin quotes H.L. Mencken’s famous observation that "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong." She says that this legislation is wrong for a number of reasons. For example, the legislation gives a positive spin on enacting proposals to restrict sales of video games to minors – this has already been ruled on by the Supreme Court in the famous case Brown v. EMA. Also given the fact that the retail industry does a pretty good job of keeping mature content out of the hands of minors – according to a recent Federal Trade Commission report – such proposals put forth solutions for problems that are non-existent.
Another proposal would require the state Department of Education to distribute "research and statistics on how violent behavior increases after exposure to violent [media]" and "scientific findings that show children who play violent games are more likely to be involved in physical altercations ." This is tantamount to distributing propaganda because the research on this topic is far from conclusive.
Bertin closes by saying that using half-truths to regulate video games takes away from a serious look at the phenomenon of gun violence and stifles creative freedom.
"Proposals to regulate video games or dispense half-truths about the effects of popular entertainment not only divert attention from the effort to undertake a serious inquiry into gun violence but also ignore the inherent value of creative expression that confronts and reflects the human condition, including its most confounding aspects."