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Oklahoma Politician Wants To Tax Violent Video Games 312

Posted by timothy
from the fourkiller-sounds-violent-and-unhinged dept.
dotarray writes "According to an Oklahoma politician, video games help cause many problems affecting the youth of today, but they can also help solve those same problems. Representative William Fourkiller, a Democrat, has proposed a 1% tax on every video game sold which has a Teen, Mature or Adults Only rating. He explains that half of the money would go towards helping to get kids playing outside, while the other half would be placed into a bullying prevention fund."
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Oklahoma Politician Wants To Tax Violent Video Games

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  • by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @03:25PM (#38906053)

    I'm sure throwing money at something will both convince kids to play outside and prevent bullying. Gee, where can I contribute to the "bullying prevention fund?"

    "For the children" is one of the basest forms of emotional appeal. The emotional satisfaction justifies it in many people's minds, and to argue against it makes one vulnerable to accusations of not caring about kids.

    • by trongey (21550) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @03:34PM (#38906251) Homepage

      You misunderstood the article. The 1% will be used to pay bodyguards who will drag the kids outside then pound the crap out of anybody who tries to bully them.

    • by Belial6 (794905) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @03:35PM (#38906271)
      So, he wants to raise the price of an activity that many kids use to avoid being bullied to stop bullying?????
      • by Moryath (553296) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @04:18PM (#38906975)

        No, he's another lunatic who thinks that taxing speech doesn't violate the 1st amendment.

        • Does a state sales tax on books likewise violate the First Amendment as applied to the several states by the Fourteenth? If so, then how do so many states get away with requiring Barnes & Noble to collect and remit sales tax? If not, then what's the difference between what this state representative proposes and a sales tax?
          • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 02, 2012 @05:29PM (#38908071)
            I think the question would be whether the tax targets the material for the speech contained or if it targets it as a good. So all games, books, and movies are taxed, but would you, say, only tax movies dealing with unpopular opinions? Then it can be construed as violating the first amendment as this clearly does.
          • by Tmann72 (2473512) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @05:30PM (#38908095)
            Sales tax is applied uniformly across all products sold whereas this is a tax on a specific product. Taxing any item sold regardless of the item doesn't have a chilling effect on consumers buying the product, but a targeted tax on the sales of a specific item is designed with that exact purpose in mind. Think cigarette taxes as an example.
          • by BitterOak (537666) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @05:31PM (#38908107)

            Does a state sales tax on books likewise violate the First Amendment as applied to the several states by the Fourteenth? If so, then how do so many states get away with requiring Barnes & Noble to collect and remit sales tax? If not, then what's the difference between what this state representative proposes and a sales tax?

            The difference is, this would be a content-based tax on something that has been found to be protected speech. A uniform sales tax on all goods is not a violation of the First Amendment, but if books supporting one particular political party or putting forth one particular opinion were taxed at a different rate than books putting forward the opposite position, then the tax would almost certainly run afoul of the First Amendment. This is a tax that applies only to video games, not other forms of expression, and furthermore applies only to those games with a teen or mature rating, which is closely related to the content of those games.

            • by Moryath (553296) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @05:54PM (#38908435)

              Precisely!

              A tax on all books (in the form of generic, most-products "sales tax") is not invalid because it is nondiscriminatory.

              A tax on all books that had to do with math would be invalid. As would a tax on all books written by right-wing or left-wing pundits.

              The issue is a discriminatory tax intended to impact a product based on the content of speech.

            • by tepples (727027)

              This is a tax that applies only to video games, not other forms of expression

              Watch it get amended to include movies with a PG-13 or R rating and musical recordings with a Parental Advisory: Explicit Content rating, so that it's medium-neutral.

              and furthermore applies only to those games with a teen or mature rating

              Alcoholic beverages are taxed more heavily than beverages not containing alcohol. Schools and libraries receiving federal funds are required to deploy censorware to block speech that is "harmful to minors" as defined by a 2000 act of Congress, and the Supreme Court upheld this [wikipedia.org].

          • The difference is that this attempts to tax media with a certain type of content (violent) differently.
          • If it applies to all books equally, it does not. If it singles out books according to their content, then yes, it is.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 02, 2012 @03:46PM (#38906443)

      Cities all over the country have "thrown" money into free, supervised, municipal skate parks that just happened to be outside. The kids didn't need convincing.

      • by lgw (121541) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @04:44PM (#38907423) Journal

        Cities all over the country have "thrown" money into free, supervised, municipal skate parks that just happened to be outside. The kids didn't need convincing.

        Building infrastructure is (alomost) always a good thing for government to do. Pity that's such a tiny percentage of what governements do these days.

        But when a given governemnt's spending is 10% infrastructure, 90% buying votes, any notion that a new tax is going to actually help out is, well, 90% wrong. No new tax is needed fo stuff like this - doubling the infrastructure spending would rarely be a significant increase in overall spending. And yet many cities today can't even keep the streetlights on (despite that being a really small % of their revenue).

    • by Hentes (2461350) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @03:47PM (#38906465)

      Bullying is not something that can be solved by just money. Give the schools/teachers enough rights to be able to deal with the problematic children, expect them to do so and hold them responsible when they don't.

      • by tompaulco (629533) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @04:05PM (#38906721) Homepage Journal
        Bullying is not something that can be solved by just money. Give the schools/teachers enough rights to be able to deal with the problematic children, expect them to do so and hold them responsible when they don't.
        Well, before we do that, we need to decide that we are not going to support the current bullying system.
        I can think of dozens of different people who have all been punished for eventually standing up for themselves after getting bullied for months. Myself included. I had a bully sitting behind me in 9th grade who would hurl insults at me all the time, thump me in the back of the head, punch me from behind, and generally make me miserable all year long. Finally one day toward the end of the year, after he had done something again I turned around and told him to lay off. He hit me in the eye with a pencil. That was the last straw. I jumped out of my seat and started hitting him. He probably was a foot taller than me and outweighed me by half, but I didn't concern myself with that. The teacher came running it and broke us up. I was sent to the principal's office, my mother was called. She told them how I had been coming home with stories every day about how this kid was picking on me and that she was glad I finally stood up for myself. They gave me swats and sent me back to class where I had to put up with his crap, still sitting right behind me, for the rest of the year.
        But I learned a valuable lesson. The authority is on the side of the bullies, so just let them walk all over you, or you will be punished.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 02, 2012 @04:28PM (#38907129)

          But I learned a valuable lesson. The authority is on the side of the bullies, so just let them walk all over you, or you will be punished.

          Actually, you learned the lesson most kids (including myself long ago) learn about the school system: the authorities don't give a crap what goes on so long as they don't have to do anything about it.

          I had a situation with much the same problem as you - I was "in a fight" and didn't even throw a punch, just backed against a wall and tried to keep my face covered. The result was that we both got the mandatory 3-day inschool suspension for "fighting." The difference? The kid who bullied me spent more time in suspension than he did in class. He regularly targeted the kids with the best grades, because he knew being in class actually mattered to us. I got left out of the advanced honors science class the next year, because the asshole teacher who ran it had a "no kid allowed in my advanced class who has a fighting demerit on their record" policy.

          I learned the hard way too what schools really are, and any respect I have for teachers (or worse, school administrators, and even worse, the sort of right wing retards who came up with "zero tolerance and mandatory punishment" policies) has been tempered by that experience ever since.

          • by tompaulco (629533)
            the sort of right wing retards who came up with "zero tolerance and mandatory punishment" policies)
            I hear what you are saying, but I always felt that the zero tolerance crap was all liberal retards.
        • They gave me swats

          That'll teach you not to resort to violence!

        • by tbannist (230135)

          You learned the wrong lesson. I can't speak specifically to your principal, but the Principal has to act in an even handed manner. The witnesses clearly saw you attack another student, and they most likely did not see the provocation. You made yourself look like the villain by how you chose to react. I fully understand the problem, I've been in the same situation and made the same mistakes.

          The authority is required to maintain an orderly system, that is the authority's primary duty. You disrupted the o

          • by idontgno (624372)

            The authority is required to maintain an orderly system, that is the authority's primary duty

            And that, my friend, is the real lesson. The object of a system of authority is order, not justice. Justice matters only after injustice sufficiently compromises order (see: race riots, Arab Spring, etc.)

        • by Nadaka (224565) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @05:02PM (#38907669)

          I was bullied in elementary school because I was a bookish nerd, but I mostly ignored it. Then I found them trying to stomping my little sister to death. I chased them off, caught two of them and beat them with a padlocked chain until I got tired of the screaming. The other 3 ran faster than I did. Neither of us ever had to deal with bullies again. Like it or not, fear and pain are the only things those animals understand.

          The reason violence didn't stop your bully is that you didn't use enough of it.

        • by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki@gmail. c o m> on Thursday February 02, 2012 @05:21PM (#38907953) Homepage

          But I learned a valuable lesson. The authority is on the side of the bullies, so just let them walk all over you, or you will be punished.

          Then you learned the wrong lesson. What you should have learned is that the culture of coddling bullies and refusing to allow students to stand up for themselves, and forcing the administration to find out what actually caused this to come to the front is a serious issue.

          Let's look at the administration, and the policies that have been forced on the school system right? That violence is never the answer, that the social aspect is always correct, that 'feelings' and 'bullies' are misunderstood, and all the rest. There's a whole pile of touchy-feely-and all the other rot that goes on along with bury your head in the sand, that schools do. Because they're instructed to do it. I don't trust the left-leaning establishments ideas of everyone needs a hug, and everyone needs to be punished over something like this. That is where it came from. Rather, I'd like to see that teachers and principals are fired when these issues have already been brought to light, and they've done nothing.

          I'm with you on this. I was bullied myself, until I snapped and broke the other kids nose. If you have kids, you should support them if they stand up against bullies, especially if you've been bullied yourself and you trust your kid. Learning to stand up for yourself is important. The lesson that's been taught for the last 30 years is, standing up for yourself is bad.

      • Exactly. No, the additional tax revenue will go to some generic slush fund anyways. It's just another way to raise government funding via pulling of the heart strings and playing the sympathy violin. Only the suckers will demand an encore. Yet, another swell idea by your elected officials at work.

    • by Memophage (88273)

      Right. Because historically, the kids buying video games are the ones out there beating up other kids and stealing their lunch money. Why don't we leverage a 1% tax on footballs and jerseys as well, or maybe weight-lifting equipment?

      What a great message. "If you buy this video game, someone may come along and kick your ass, so we're going to charge you extra so the government can try to prevent that."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 02, 2012 @03:27PM (#38906093)

    Look its "for the children"(TM) , we must comply.

  • by future assassin (639396) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @03:28PM (#38906113) Homepage

    Tax all kids in school at 1% of their lunch money and use that money to fight bullying in schools. Can we also get a 1% tax on violent blockbusters and tv shows where half off that goes to the movie studios and half goes to violence prevention?

  • New tax (Score:5, Interesting)

    by durrr (1316311) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @03:29PM (#38906115)
    I suggest a conditional tax.
    1% of total politician networth every time they say something stupid. The deficit would turn to a surplus in a week, especially now during campaign season.
    • by jd2112 (1535857)
      Thank you Mitt Romney! Too bad Donald Trump dropped out already...
      • Well Trump is set to endorse Romney and if his endorsement speech is half as crazy as Palin's endorsement of Newt then it still could raise some taxes under this idea. I wonder when these politicians will start begging to NOT be endorsed by these looneys.

    • Except politicians have no actual value, so you'd never generate any money this way.

    • So... I wonder if he just doesn't understand the law, or if he understands it and is proposing the passage of an illegal law anyway. Since the First Amendment would not exactly be happy with this kind of tax.

  • M and AO? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LordNimon (85072) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @03:30PM (#38906153)

    Does he not realize that M and AO games are not supposed to be played by children in the first place?

    • I was wondering about that myself. Is he saying that it's ok for kids under 10 to play Teen, Mature, and Adults Only games, so long as they pay the tax?
    • Re:M and AO? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Darinbob (1142669) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @03:38PM (#38906315)

      And just what does Desktop Vixens have to do with violence?

    • Does he not realize that M and AO games are not supposed to be played by children in the first place?

      Yeah, I don't see the point. I mean, from my point of view, It's already working. "Hey! You kids go outside! I want to use the Xbox for a while!". That pretty much happens every time I buy a new M or AO video game.

  • Great idea! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @03:30PM (#38906155)

    So when those kids go outside and get bullied, there will be a support program for them. -sigh-

    The best way to teach out kids that bullying is bad is to stop doing it ourselves, and to teach them it's not okay to pick on others for any reason. Mine taught me, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." For me, it stuck. For others, it apparently didn't, or they weren't taught it. Am I perfect at it? No. But I try.

    But a government program to teach it? No way. It'll never work. It has to be something every citizen wants, not something that the government tries to force us into. Actually wants, not just says they want.

    I'm not against providing nice, safe outdoor play areas for kids. Hopefully away from my apartment windows and doors. I would have loved to have it as a kid, and I'd love to have them away from my apartment now. But attacking an industry to do so is not the way to go about it.

    • I personally wouldn't mind paying a little bit extra (1% of 50.00 is not that much); just like the extra tax on the smoking to help kids with healthcare...im ok with that(i smoke) But its got to work, or be viable...most the time these get into stupid programs that use advertisements and stupid slogans..DARE would be a good example. WTF does DARE even mean, i knew it once.....its just to stupid to remember. Education is the key thing here, kids are so moldable but you got to get them before their teen yea
      • by artor3 (1344997)

        Drug Abuse Resistance Education. I remember because they misspelled "resistance" on the tee shirts they handed out. The only other thing I remember from that class is that pot is 40x more likely to cause cancer than cigarettes (not even remotely true).

  • Ignorance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RazzleFrog (537054) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @03:32PM (#38906177)

    Amazing that I read this just after reading an article about several suicides in a small town in Michigan. It seems the anti-homosexual leadership in the community and school district basically ignored charges of bullying by students.

    Funny how I don't remember a computer game that teaches kids how to be hateful bigots. Pretty sure they got that from their parents and their church.

  • by Joe U (443617)

    When will these idiots learn, you can't impose a pentalty based on content.

    Tax all games at 1% or none.

  • Fall afoul of "restraint of trade"?

  • The other other half would go to the politician's pet project, which will somehow find its way into his pockets.

    Taxing all games the same.. sure, that is up to the state to decide. A sin tax on games that someone "doesn't like". How does that make sense? If their actual concern was to get kids to do more healthy activities, how does taxing a certain class of games help? Presumably sitting inside playing Mario Brothers is just as unhealthy as Modern Warfare. This is just another excuse to get a revenue stre

  • by kawabago (551139) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @03:34PM (#38906235)
    Hundreds of millions of dollars are given to politicians every year so they can lie to us about the mess they are making of everything. If half the money given to politicians was given to the poor it could make a significant difference both in the lives of the poor and it would half the bullshit we have to listen to!
  • Violence is okay. So let's tax it. But if it had anything remotely sexually explicit, then it must be banned.
    • by loufoque (1400831)

      That's because violence will eventually become part of the kids' lives, while sex shouldn't.

      Oh crap, is it the other way around?

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday February 02, 2012 @03:35PM (#38906265)

    And off my lawn!!!

  • by russotto (537200) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @03:38PM (#38906321) Journal

    If video game content is protected by the First Amendment (and current law indicates it is), then a 1% tax based on contents is just as impermissible as a 10000% tax or a straight-up ban.

    • Sin taxes have precedent as well, and a small tax is not the same as a ban. I'm sure this initiative will fail for other reasons though.
  • 3/4ths of both the House and Senate have to pass it, otherwise it gets put to a public vote.

    Of course, the ESA could simply dissolve the ESRB, or refuse to rate any games shipped to Oklahoma. (Yes, the bill specifically mentions the ESRB and its ratings.)

  • I've come a long way from the anti-tax Republican I used to be, but come on buddy, you aren't doing ANYTHING to dispel the "tax-every-problem-away-Democrat" cliche.

    • I've come a long way from the anti-tax Republican I used to be, but come on buddy, you aren't doing ANYTHING to dispel the "tax-every-problem-away-Democrat" cliche.

      When the only tool you know how to use is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail.

  • The people playing that "Collateral Murder" [youtube.com] game are not going to be happy.
  • From the article:

    Samuel Balaban, the manager of Oklahoma City's Little Shoppe of Games, says kids can also be influenced by violent movies, TV shows and music that aren't taxed.

    Mr Balaban went on, "In fact, scientists have recently discovered that TV and music that isnt taxed actually causes cancer."

  • My little fat Johnny who plays Mario Cart all day long was expelled from school for bullying because he was throwing things at classmates who were around him. I say we should tax ESRB: E (Comic Mischief) also!
  • by MrLizard (95131) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @03:50PM (#38906499)

    ...due to a sporting event.

    In the United States, sporting events are often associated with violent riots, as well, though with lower death tolls. Europe is well known for its soccer hooligans.

    Ever hear of 80 people being killed following a LAN event? Any riots at GenCon or E3?

    Didn't think so.

    If this guy was sincere, he'd be proposing a 1% tax on sports equipment, sales of licensed sports franchise clothing, etc, and using the money to fund children's hospitals which treat the many crippling (and sometimes fatal) injuries that occur from childhood sports. (Check out the average number of high school students killed in school shootings each year, and the average number of high school students killed in school sports.)

    Of course, he's not sincere. "Sincerity" is an alien concept to such as he. He's a vile, contemptible, parasitic piece of verminous scum who exploits fear and ignorance in order to gain power. He is a creature without any personal worth, a loathsome leech who feeds off the misery and pain of others, and grows fat and happy on their suffering. Or, in other words, a politician. Even among that repugnant crew of amoral reprobates, though, people like Fourkiller represent the scrapings of the bottom of a barrel that is, itself, filled with the scrapings from the bottom of the barrel.

  • Maybe we could impose a one percent tax on porn and use the proceeds to help the porn purchasers "get outside and play" with real people!

  • I could be incorrect- but I thought I read somewhere in the last two years a large study that reported that violent video-games, contrary to previous opinion, caused less violence. The games kept teenagers off the street AND acted as an outlet for violent expression.

    1% is not going to be a deterrant- and wheras it would be nice to have a fund to give children more places to play outside; I don't think such a venture should be based on a morality tax that is based on a faulty premise.

  • How about, let's stop using taxes to make social manipulations?

    Politicians like making up groups of people and products and place little individual taxes on all of them. If they are in front of middle class people, they'll say "We're going to put a tax on the rich". If they are in front of the rich, they'll say "we're going to put a tax on those keeping their money overseas". If they are in front of the really rich, who keep their money overseas, they'll say "we're going to raise capital gains tax" (to p

  • "A gentleman shot a police officer and stole his car," Fourkiller says. "He had been playing Grand Theft Auto."

    He can't believe there's actually a video game called “Bully” because he says bullying is often what happens when kids play these games.

    "Not everybody is going to react the same," Fourkiller says. "But I believe after hours and hours of watching the screen, playing the video game, being that person and taking on that role, people get desensitized."

    Yeah, those were the times in high scho

  • Just another excuse to add new taxes.
  • by Raul654 (453029) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @04:34PM (#38907235) Homepage

    Such a tax is flatly unconstitutional. If they can tax at 1%, what's to prevent them from taxing at 100%? Or 100,000,000%? The power to tax is the power to destroy [wikipedia.org], and there's no way this will survive a constitutional challenge.

  • by pak9rabid (1011935) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @04:36PM (#38907293)

    while the other half would be placed into a bullying prevention fund.

    aka, slush fund [wikipedia.org]

  • by Tom (822) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @05:38PM (#38908211) Homepage Journal

    Not as batshit insane as it sounds at first glance, or compared to many other activities of our current breed of career politicians.

    For one, it's a reasonable number that makes it probable he is serious and it's not a hidden "drive the prices up to make it unprofitable if we can't outlaw it" agenda.

    Two, the cause is reasonable. Yes, it's a "for the children" cause, but definitely not the worst. I don't know how exactly he plans to get kids outside with money, short of paying them, but I don't think anyone would disagree that a healthy amount of physical outdoor activity is a good thing.

    I'm not exactly convinced, yet - but compared to the usual utter nonsense we are used to, it sounds fairly reasonable and measured.

  • by L3370 (1421413) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @05:54PM (#38908443)
    It's a problem with poor coping skills and conflict resolution abilities.

    Fatherless children and nanny-state court systems that issue jail time to 12 year olds for school yard brawls are the problem...Money wasted.

    We need parents that teach personal strength. And we need to let kids practice resolving their own problems. It sounds barbaric...but we've all known some kids that beat the living crap out of eachother, then became total bros after the fight.

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