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Monday, July 31, 2006

Video game law tossed

Republican Representative Jeff Johnson, who is running for Attorney General, counts as one of his accomplishments a bill that would fine kids who try to buy or rent video games that are rated M (Mature) or AO (Adults Only). And now that law, like every other similar law that has been passed around the country, has been found unconstitutional.

Anybody with any sense knew that this law would be tossed. They all have, because you can't put prior restraint on speech without a compelling reason. There is no compelling reason to fine kids for renting or buying video games. It's a parent's job to keep tabs of what games their kids are playing. But Rep. Johnson had to look tough to please his social conservative base, and the result is a waste of time and money.

Do I think kids should be playing video games like Grand Theft Auto? Of course not. But this law is the wrong way to go about it. What is the right way? How about we get a leader such as the governor to haul in the leaders of Target, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Circuit City, and other game shops, and tell them that unless they make it their store policy to ID every kid who tries to buy a video game, they won't be getting any tax breaks or favorable treatment. A store policy can't be unconstitutional, the kids don't get the games, and the government is not involved. Sounds like a win all around to me.

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