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Government Entertainment Games News

Utah Governor Vetoes Jack Thompson's Game Sales Bill 36

Posted by Soulskill
from the hit-the-road-jack dept.
Not long ago we discussed news that the Utah Senate and House had both passed legislation worked on by Jack Thompson that would add restrictions on how game advertising interacted with the rating system. The bill itself was poorly amended, and many questioned whether it would have the effect its sponsors desired. GamePolitics asked a First Amendment rights expert for his opinion on the matter, and the National Coalition Against Censorship spoke out against the bill, urging Governor Jon Huntsman to strike it down. Fortunately, it appears he took their advice (or that of many lobbying retailers), as the bill has now been vetoed. Huntsman said, "The industries most affected by this new requirement indicated that rather than risk being held liable under this bill, they would likely choose to no longer issue age-appropriate labels on goods and services."
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Utah Governor Vetoes Jack Thompson's Game Sales Bill

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  • by tygerstripes (832644) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @05:24AM (#27339797)

    It's gratifying, and somewhat surprising, to see state officials put a stake through the bloated, foetid, rotting corpse of that ridiculous little man.

    The guy's always been a noxious little puke, but when he started having a crack [penny-arcade.com] at Penny Arcade, it became clear just how deranged a nut-job he was.

    Sorry, I don't really have anything to add to the discussion. I just really wanted to smile and breathe a sigh: Yessssss...

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by KDR_11k (778916)

      You think that's bad, try looking at the court record of his disbarment trial. They go into detail how he tried to pressure judges with constant bullying.

    • When even the Florida Bar Association has expelled him for life with no possibility of being reinstated, you know that Thompson must clearly be unhinged. Then again, you'd expect that from a guy who has been consistently been suing his own bar association, all the judges he can name and tried to get criminal charges pressed against Penny Arcade for the heinous act of (GASP!) giving money to a children's charity.
    • by Chabo (880571)

      I prefer the racketeering claim [penny-arcade.com]

  • now if only he would veto Jack Thompson too...the root of all evil...well...root of evil stupidity anyways.

    hopefully, a "suddenoutbreakofcommonsense" tag gets added to the post.

  • Despite being a Mormon, a particularly hard line religion that considers alcohol so awful that they have enacted laws making booze buying in that state pretty difficult, he's actually for rolling back regulations on booze hounds, so this is not particularly shocking to see Huntsman do this. Bravo, Gov. Huntsman! Let's see you bring Utah into the *20th* century, and hopefully the 21st by inertia of it all.

    • he's actually for rolling back regulations on booze hounds

      How unfortunate; it would be better to roll back regulations on casual, responsible drinkers of alcohol rather than those who abuse it.

    • by Chris Burke (6130) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @09:33AM (#27341913) Homepage

      Let's see you bring Utah into the *20th* century, and hopefully the 21st by inertia of it all.

      Well wait a minute, that's quite a bit of inertia you're talking about there, passing 2 centuries in less than one? What if that continues and then Utah is in the 22nd century before we've even left the 21st, and next thing you know Mormon colony ships are heading for Alpha Centauri while the rest of us are still trying to get a decent electric car.

      • Then they'd be the Cylons and not us?

      • by andrewd18 (989408) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @02:12PM (#27346279)
        Joseph Smith wins a Space Race victory!
        • by Dutch Gun (899105)

          Joseph Smith wins a Space Race victory!

          -1 Troll? Mod never played Civilization, I presume? Well, *I* thought it was funny.

      • Mormon colony ships are heading for Alpha Centauri while the rest of us are still trying to get a decent electric car.

        This is more or less the plot of the original Battlestar Galactica.

        (Except they're trying to come TO earth, but they can't, because they don't have the production budget, and they have to keep re-using the clips where they shoot Cylons down.)

        • by Chris Burke (6130)

          (Except they're trying to come TO earth, but they can't, because they don't have the production budget, and they have to keep re-using the clips where they shoot Cylons down.)

          Huh, that's funny, I was under the impression that they eventually made it to earth because they ran out of production budget. ;)

    • by Ifandbut (1328775)

      I dont know why this was modded troll because it is true. I voted democrat in the last Utah election but seeing what the governor has done, I wish he was gona run for a third term.

  • I don't know if it's appropriate to tag this article as such. Jack Thompson is a known nutcase and I'm sure that game lobbyists hold some sway since gaming hasn't suffered as much as other industries in this recession. The governor's decision is at least as much politics as it is personal feeling.
    • by JWman (1289510)
      I agree that this tag is a bad one. It implies that everyone in Utah was on board with this, but Huntsman alone stepped forward to kill it. As someone who is living in Utah at the moment, I can tell you that this got no press coverage here, except through (conservative) political commentators who agreed it was a BAD idea. I'm not sure how it got enough of a coalition to make it through the legislature, but it certainly wasn't by popular demand.
      • Well, there is this [sltrib.com]. It is getting a bit of coverage. And notice that he's not doing it because of the children, just that he doesn't want to get the state sued. We're already due for a couple law suits over abortion and gay rights, why tack on a third?
        • And notice that he's not doing it because of the children, just that he doesn't want to get the state sued

          I'm not sure if you mean this is a good thing or not. I think it's a good thing for him to consider the constitutionality of the laws he signs long before thinking of the children.

    • My question is why the hell didn't the legislators look Jack in the eye and say "Are you high?".

      This has been tried. It's pretty obvious that it could be struck down on constitutional grounds in every state as undue prior restraint of first amendment rights. This just goes to show the legislators are spineless lackeys for whatever the lobbyists are pushing in front of them.

      Sounds kind of like another group of senators and representatives I know of......

  • by Jim Hall (2985) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @06:56AM (#27340231) Homepage

    GamePolitics asked a First Amendment rights expert for his opinion on the matter, and the National Coalition Against Censorship spoke out against the bill, urging Governor Jon Huntsman to strike it down. Fortunately, it appears he took their advice (or that of many lobbying retailers), as the bill has now been vetoed. Huntsman said, "The industries most affected by this new requirement indicated that rather than risk being held liable under this bill, they would likely choose to no longer issue age appropriate labels on goods and services."

    (emphasis mine)

    I'm optimistic that we'll see a lot more stories in the coming year like this one, of governors vetoing similar game-sale restrictions - or of state legislatures not passing these bills at all.

    But it's not just because of First Amendment issues. Apparently, that hasn't been a problem for the legislatures passing the bills in the first place. I think the downturn in the economy will wind up helping the game industry here.

    This governor clearly got the message: "the economy is in recession, and this bill would make it less likely that your state would have sales in a certain industry." And he wisely decided to veto the bill, so that game retailers in his state (WalMart, Target, EB/GameStop, ..) would continue to sell games. No doubt someone also showed him the sales numbers for the top games [gamespot.com] and how many of them would be affected by this bill (rated M). And so, had a bill like this already been on the books, those sales would not have happened in his state. I can't see any governor wanting to sign a bill that prevents money entering his state's economy, not at a time like this.

    Money drives a lot of things, and the economy clearly drives decisions at the government level.

    • by ATMAvatar (648864) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @07:35AM (#27340501) Journal
      My understanding of that last line is that game companies would simply stop rating games, not that they would stop selling them. The loophole in the bill is that the game companies cannot be held liable for unrated games.
    • by flitty (981864)
      The justification for the veto was 2 fold: first, fear of first amendment challenges in courts, and secondly, Utah is a "family friendly" state, where many places advertise how family friendly they are. With legislation like this, it makes it so any retailer who sells movies/games could no longer advertise they are family friendly, due to fear of sting operations that might end up taking them to court. All around, a stupid, stupid law.
    • GamePolitics asked a First Amendment rights expert for his opinion on the matter, and the National Coalition Against Censorship spoke out against the bill, urging Governor Jon Huntsman to strike it down. Fortunately, it appears he took their advice (or that of many lobbying retailers), as the bill has now been vetoed.

      It wasn't all that. All they had to do was just sound the Horn of Urgency.

  • Ain't it great when lobbyists work in our favor?
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @09:21AM (#27341713)

    It's nice to see something happen in "our" favor once in a while, but realize that this isn't. Yes, the outcome seems to be what people want: Less invasion of privacy, more personal responsibility and The Man (tm) generally getting off our back for a change. But this isn't why this bill was shot down. It wasn't even that the governor realized that he should probably not allow a bill sponsored by a nutcase to pass into law.

    It was shot down because the governor feared the studios would stop labeling their games altogether if they could be held liable for what label they slap on the box. This wasn't a victory for free speech or at least a step in the right direction. What would a studio do to cover its back? Label everything M. Even "Barnie's 'I love you' singalong" because you might see someone hug and that could be seen as something sexual (eeek!) by another nutjob.

    We're still in Utah, remember that!

    Bottom line would have been that the whole self-imposed rating system would go out the window and parents couldn't tell a Teletubbies preschooler educational game from a blood dripping slaughterfest. And you can imagine what he'd get to hear then, right? Right?

    This is no victory. Yes, we like the outcome, but that will only be temporary until Nutsy finds the time to reword it. And that he has far too much spare time should be known by now.

    • >It was shot down because the governor feared the studios would stop labeling their games altogether if they could be held liable for what label they slap on the box.

      Erm, because that is EXACTLY what could have happened, and would have been a huge step BACK. It was worded such that a retailer who didn't advertise any ratings wouldn't be liable.

      >This wasn't a victory for free speech or at least a step in the right direction.

      Your free speech bit confuses me (expecting replies to that) but it definitely

    • Fortunatly, a stronger worded bill would easily fall to First Amendment challenges. Ask Illinois and Louisiana how those turned out...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      This is no victory. Yes, we like the outcome, but that will only be temporary until Nutsy finds the time to reword it. And that he has far too much spare time should be known by now.

      With respect, I disagree.

      (Full disclosure--Utah resident here.)

      I think this is a victory, in that it shows consciousness of what game ratings are designed to do. They are supposed to give sane parents an indication of game content before making a purchase. So far so good--the gaming industry has subjected itself to an independent ratings board. No, a studio can't label anything "M" or any other rating. They can decide not to go through the ESRB, which is retail suicide. That seems to be what everyon

    • by crossmr (957846)

      It wasn't even that the governor realized that he should probably not allow a bill sponsored by a nutcase to pass into law.

      Apparently you can read minds. Does your power work on women? If so, I think we can market that..

      If I'm going to veto a bill because I think the guy who wrote it is a nut job, I'm not going to come out and say that. Its not tactful. He could have decided to veto it because his wife made him waffles, but again we're not going to hear that.

    • It was shot down because the governor feared the studios would stop labeling their games altogether if they could be held liable for what label they slap on the box. This wasn't a victory for free speech or at least a step in the right direction.

      Um... what exactly would victory have looked like? Other than Jack Thompson's public shaming, disbarment, or exile...

      Labeling is speech. In some cases, it's compelled speech, in other cases it's more or less cooperative, but it's a solution that's pretty coherent wi

  • Not too surprising (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ekimd (968058)

    given that Gov. Huntsman seems to be pretty level-headed.

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