Video Games

What Other Types of Guns Can Sen. Feinstein Fail to Ban? What About Ones Made of Pixels?

Keep your laws off our virtual bodies

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She's got those pearls just ready for a good clutching.
Credit: jurvetson / Foter.com / CC BY

Having all but failed in her ill-considered, poorly argued efforts to ban assault weapons (the usual caveat: whatever "assault weapons" are), now California Sen. Dianne Feinstein seems ready to fail and fail harder going after violent video games.

At a speech in San Francisco on Wednesday, she took her typical aim against the National Rifle Association. But then she all but joined the NRA in complaining about the glorification of violence in video games. Via the Associated Press:

Feinstein also encouraged the entertainment and video game industries to take voluntary steps to produce products that do not glorify big, powerful guns before Congress feels compelled to step in. She mentioned that Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old man responsible for the Sandy Hook Elementary School slayings, practiced shooting both at a range with his mother and on a video screen.

Video games play "a very negative role for young people, and the industry ought to take note of that," she said. "If Sandy Hook doesn't do it, if the knowledge of these video games this young man played doesn't, then maybe we have to proceed, but that is in the future."

Well, we can all look forward to that future failure as well. One: Just as with movies, the video game industry has a voluntary ratings system that thoroughly documents a game's contents and recommends appropriate ages. Two: The Supreme Court has ruled that the contents of video games are constitutionally protected free speech in a case that originated from Feinstein's own state.

The idea of video games playing "a very negative role for young people" is just unsupported nonsense without foundation. Yesterday, when I wrote about film critic's Roger Ebert's awkward relationship with the creative culture of video games, I noted the gap between Baby Boomers and the younger generations over the role of the medium in their lives. The industry took Ebert's dismissal of video games as a potential art form as a challenge.

Feinstein's poorly chosen words and vague threat will likely not inspire much introspection. She doesn't understand the medium at all and clearly has no interest in understanding the medium. But unlike Ebert, Feinstein has the power to shape government policy, or at least try to, anyway. It would be interesting to see how the heavily California-based video game industry would respond to Feinstein actually trying to go after them.

Below, Reason TV highlights several extremely stupid Congressional hearings where politicians presumed to justify censorship against various forms of media: