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The Almighty Buck The Courts Games

Unconstitutional Video Game Law Costs California $2 Million 180

Posted by Soulskill
from the your-tax-dollars-at-work dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In hopes of protecting the children of California from the ravages of violent video games, then governor Arnold Schwarzenegger attempted to push through a law that would fine retailers $1000 for each infraction of selling a violent game to an underage child. However, in the wake of appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court, which struck down the law, California is now forced to pay the legal fees of all parties to the tune of two million dollars."
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Unconstitutional Video Game Law Costs California $2 Million

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  • Nice! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ZorinLynx (31751) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @09:09PM (#39119023) Homepage

    Good. Maybe this will teach future political leaders that censorship is a bad idea.

    Oh who am I kidding, these idiots never learn anything.

    • by jhoegl (638955)
      Schwartsy doesnt care, hes already out of office.
      Which of course is the counter argument to term limits and what not.
      I am just wondering where California will get the 2 million. They can barely cover costs as it is.
      And their highways are the worst ever. It is almost like they havent repaved any of them in years.
      • Re:Nice! (Score:5, Funny)

        by kelemvor4 (1980226) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @09:28PM (#39119233)

        Schwartsy doesnt care, hes already out of office. Which of course is the counter argument to term limits and what not. I am just wondering where California will get the 2 million. They can barely cover costs as it is. And their highways are the worst ever. It is almost like they havent repaved any of them in years.

        They were going to repave the highways but then they got high.

        • by Ihmhi (1206036)

          They were gonna fix the roads up, too, but they they got hiiiiiigh. (Laaaaaa dah dah).

      • Re:Nice! (Score:5, Informative)

        by popeye44 (929152) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @10:06PM (#39119615)

        Well, As I am one of those Caltrans employees.. I can tell you where the money goes that we take in in Gas Taxes, Construction taxes, etc etc. It goes in the General fund. Not transportation accounts. "except for certain taxes which do" So Lets say we have a good year.. and our transportation fund is swollen. The State comes over with its hand out and takes from that fund to put into the general fund. As you can imagine this practice has a way of making roads very hard to maintain. On top of that we have say 40 people to take care of around 1200 miles of road. Between staffing issues, cuts, promotions, vacations, sick days etc. There are typically 26-32 of those people at work. On a good day those folk actually get to do some maintenance on the road. On most days.. they respond to accidents and complaints from the public. So this is a snippet from my point of view. I do live in a fairly populated area.. but NOTHING like LA. SF etc. You can extrapolate that there are more people in those areas.. but by and large CT is an engineering organization and it's more fun to build than maintain.. So that is pretty much how we operate. build more ignore the old.

        • by jhoegl (638955)
          Oh yeah, I by no means think it is the Transportation Department that is at fault. It is pretty obvious that the state government is dysfunctional to the level of Greece.
          The odd thing is, the state highways which are federally funded, are also in terrible shape.
          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            It is pretty obvious that the state government is dysfunctional to the level of Greece.

            You think California's bad, try Illinois. At least it's better than when Ryan and Blago ran things.

            The odd thing is, the state highways which are federally funded, are also in terrible shape.

            The feds don't fully fund anything, the state has to match a certain part of it.

        • So, would you say that you're suffering from the same problem that the USPTO suffers from? You may be bringing in more than enough revenue to fully fund your department, but your state legislature sets a budget for you, and wanders off with any of the 'excess' funds for political boondoggles / favors?

      • Re:Nice! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Darinbob (1142669) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @10:41PM (#39119941)

        And you can't put most of the blame on him. The governor is not a dictator, he needed a bill from the legislature first before he could sign it. He wasn't popular enough among the legislators of either part to push through something through force of will.

      • Re:Nice! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by sg_oneill (159032) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @11:40PM (#39120445)

        Except in the case of politicians who actually embezel cash for themselves, I dont think billing politicians for bad decisions is a good idea, because it means that only the super rich could afford to be politicians. That means that only your bushes and cheyneys of the world who a couple of million dollars bill wont send them broke, could do it. But your Ron pauls, obamas , and sarah palins could not, because these guys are just upper-middle class folks who would be bankerupted by it. And it means they could not have run.

        Do we really want to guarantee a future run by the filthy rich, folks who for the most part got rich by corruption and gouging others for cash?

      • by GrandCow (229565)

        You're forgetting the major part of how the California road work budget is determined: If you don't spend it all this year, they give you only the amount you spent this year in next years budget. This causes the workers to purposely slow down work and soak up hours that they can put on their timesheets, because if they finish all of their work ahead of schedule they will effectively give their department a budget cut for next year.

        In theory it keeps the budget cut down to only what's necessary. In practi

    • Re:Nice! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dyinobal (1427207) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @09:18PM (#39119119)
      Why you think the politicians are paying this out of their own pockets? This is from the tax payers pockets.
    • by perpenso (1613749) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @09:30PM (#39119271)

      Good. Maybe this will teach future political leaders that censorship is a bad idea. Oh who am I kidding, these idiots never learn anything.

      That is not quite true. You have a very different perspective than the politicians. The politicians have already banked the votes of frightened parents. Wasting money and time and going counter to the constitution are irrelevant to them. All they care about are the votes and the likely voters are the silly frightened parents and not the gamers.

      It is amazing to watch the very same people who in their youth were outraged when Al Gore led his crusade against music become the middle aged people who support a crusade against video games.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        It is amazing to watch the very same people who in their youth were outraged when Al Gore led his crusade against music become the middle aged people who support a crusade against video games.

        This is the largest amount of bullshit I've ever seen. You're talking about me (and people in my generation). I was outraged by Gore then, I'm outraged by Das Ahnold now.

        You don't speak for me or my generation, any more than I speak for yours. Please kindly shut the fuck up.

      • It was Al Gore's wife Tipper who led the crusade against music, not Al himself.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Al Gore was evidently in on it since he was present and asking questions at the congressional hearing with Dee Snider. (You can see parts of it in the movie "A Headbangers Journey").

      • by Elbereth (58257)

        It is amazing to watch the very same people who in their youth were outraged when Al Gore led his crusade against music become the middle aged people who support a crusade against video games.

        That wasn't Al Gore. That was Tipper Gore, his wife. Also, the PMRC advocated voluntary use of warning labels, rather than outright censorship. Frank Zappa didn't see any difference between the moral panic (some of the stuff targeted is hilarious in hindsight) and explicit, outright censorship, but I think the PMRC were mostly harmless, even if they were batshit crazy. If they'd pushed for anything beyond voluntary warning labels, I'd have cared about their hysterical antics more, but, really, I think i

        • by perpenso (1613749) on Wednesday February 22, 2012 @01:08AM (#39121067)

          It is amazing to watch the very same people who in their youth were outraged when Al Gore led his crusade against music become the middle aged people who support a crusade against video games.

          That wasn't Al Gore. That was Tipper Gore, his wife.

          A Senator's wife does not call for Senate Hearings. Senator Al did that and testified in support as well.

          Also, the PMRC advocated voluntary use of warning labels, rather than outright censorship.

          That was a fall back position. They originally wanted to bar the sale of the "most offensive" music to minors. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the recording industry introduced an industry based rating system and warning labels and undercut the PRMC's efforts.

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          Frank Zappa didn't see any difference between the moral panic (some of the stuff targeted is hilarious in hindsight) and explicit, outright censorship, but I think the PMRC were mostly harmless, even if they were batshit crazy.

          The two that come to my mind had nothing to do with Zappa but were hilarious in themselves. One was "Under The Blade" (Twisted Sister?) and the other was "Suicide Solution" (Ozzie). They called these songs evil without even listening to them -- "Under the Blade" is about having surger

    • by MitchDev (2526834)
      Politicians won't learn till these costs come out their own pockets...
    • by donaldm (919619)

      Good. Maybe this will teach future political leaders that censorship is a bad idea.

      Oh who am I kidding, these idiots never learn anything.

      Personally I am not against censorship per say, however there are certain classifications (the so called R, X and PG rating come to mind) which if properly implemented are quite reasonable. Unfortunately you always have parent groups who are not satisfied with any type of censorship classification who IMHO don't want to take responsibility for what their children see, hear and play.

      In Australia we only have a R15 rating for video games, even though lobby groups have been pushing for an R18 rating for yea

      • Unfortunately you always have parent groups who are not satisfied with any type of censorship classification who IMHO don't want to take responsibility for what their children see, hear and play.

        I'm not in favor of any censorship classification that restricts certain people (usually children) from buying games. I will not support such a thing until someone can show real-world evidence that video games actually cause a majority of people to be violent (they're going to need to explain why crime statistics don't support their conclusions at all, too). If they don't cause a majority of people to be violent, then whatever effect they do have is probably so small that we don't even notice it. In any cas

    • Re:Nice! (Score:4, Informative)

      by LordKronos (470910) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @11:34PM (#39120393) Homepage

      Good. Maybe this will teach future political leaders that censorship is a bad idea.

      Oh who am I kidding, these idiots never learn anything.

      Of course they won't learn. They didn't learn from last time. There was no surprise about what the outcome would be. This had already been pretty well tested. Illinois had passed the same sort of law, and it was struck down in the Court of Appeals (http://www.gamecensorship.com/Illinois.htm). The state ended up paying one-half million dollars in legal fees. Yet already knowing the result of that case (I'm sure the politicians did their due diligence and researched the matter before making law, right?), California passed their law, then did their usual by taking it a step further....to the supreme court, and for two million dollars.

      It's like saying "if I smack my head into the wall even harder, maybe it won't hurt this time".

    • by DarthBart (640519)

      How will it teach them? The money isn't coming out their pockets. Its the equivalent of getting a parking ticket and paying for it by shaking down the neighbors, putting the money in your checking account, and then happily paying the fine.

    • by rtb61 (674572)

      Censorship, hmm, the best way to fight bad content would of course be to eliminate all censorship in the case of that bad content, by simply adhering to the law. "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.".

      So don't like the content, stop censoring people copying it and distributing it for free. Greed will solve the problem caused by greed. No fines required, in point of fact,

    • by Hatta (162192)

      They won't learn anything, because they won't suffer any consequences. Passing unconstitutional laws should be criminal. Every politician who voted for this law belongs in jail.

    • Good. Maybe this will teach future political leaders that censorship is a bad idea.

      Why? It's not like it's their money.

    • by Cederic (9623)

      Ok, so help me out here.

      Film classification is acceptable in the USA.
      Video game classification is not.

      This feels utterly confusing. Either children can be exposed to all forms of speech, or they can't.

      Where's the big issue in age restricting games? Really, seriously? Or do you support the right of people to create interactive hard core porn and market it to 13yo boys?

      • In the USA there are NO ratings that are legally enforced. Film ratings are just like videogame ratings: they are totally voluntary. MPAA ratings are only self-enforced. They are NOT legally enforced.
  • Pointless (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Where do you think the government is going to get those two million dollars? From the very tax payers they abused in the first place. What a pointless gesture. This will not deter future governors or legislators from pushing through other unconstitutional regulations.

    • Re:Pointless (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nedlohs (1335013) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @09:23PM (#39119171)

      There's pretty big overlap between those tax payers and the people who can vote in state elections. So that seems reasonably fair in the end.

      • by epyT-R (613989)

        not really since the voters can't be responsible for every single decision politicians make. voters aren't making the decisions themselves, and their choices are limited by the parties in the first place.

        • by nedlohs (1335013)

          It's representative democracy - it's how it works.

          Note that between the law being passed and it being defended in the supreme court there was an election. It the people gave a shit they would have made that clear and it would have been dropped before making it all that way.

          But the voters didn't care. Now they get to foot the bill all 5c per CA resident.

      • by epyT-R (613989)

        no.. reasonably fair would be for the money to come from the involved politicians' paychecks. make bad decisions, get docked pay, or fired, just like the rest of the voting block.

        • by Dhalka226 (559740)
          Politicians do get fired. We call them elections. In fact I'm pretty sure California has some ever-so-wonderful recall laws on the books if you can't wait.
          • by Anonymous Coward

            Being elected, or more to the point failing to be elected, isn't "getting fired" any more than contractors get "fired" at the end of their contract. They, like politicians, move on to the next contract job. Big. Fucking. Deal.

            Part of the problem with politics is simply the fact that politicians escape the vast majority of the consequences of their actions. Not too surprising that such a person spends the money of others quickly and wastefully. Also not surprising that they lie to get the job, but unlike act

          • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taUJthfnWfs&feature=related [youtube.com]

            Ain't gonna happen pal. Not in that state.

        • no.. reasonably fair would be for the money to come from the involved politicians' paychecks. make bad decisions, get docked pay, or fired, just like the rest of the voting block.

          In some (many?) states, it's illegal to require an employee to pay for any losses they cause. They can be fired, but you can't deduct money from their paycheck.

    • by icebike (68054) *

      Two Million is chump change for any Government Agency in California. They have that much slop in just about every department.

      Nobody will notice this except the lawyers who got bitch-slapped by the Supreme Court. They may be more cautious next time the governor or the legislature decides to pass something like this, if for no other reason than protecting their good reputation.

      Wait, they are lawyers, what the hell was I thinking. Where's my meds.

  • Seriously. Sick and tired of him... It's Yee's baby, he should bloody well pay for the mess it made.

  • by pecosdave (536896) * on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @09:19PM (#39119129) Homepage Journal

    for wasting money, and granted this was waste in the name of violating rights and legislating morality, when you get down to it $2,000,000 is rather cheap for a screw up of this scale.

    • by Firethorn (177587)

      Oh certainly. I'm surprised it wasn't $20M, or even $200M. When you get into governmental waste, it's not hard to start hitting the billions.

      • by pecosdave (536896) *

        At least he didn't go all SCO level stupid on it. He would be selling chunks of the state to Mexico to finance the legal battle.

    • you dont have a 'right' to sell children simulated experiences of murdering prostitutes and robbing them, any more than you have a 'right' to sell them simulated experiences of fucking prostitutes, or to put cigarette advertising inside of comic books.

      of all the actual, real censorship going on in society today, namely, people like Thomas Drake, Stephen Kim, and others being charged with Espionage for simply talking to reporters.... thats what REAL censorship is. i would love to see the people who get butth

      • So why aren't they pushing for similar laws for movies at the same time?
      • by pecosdave (536896) *

        Listen, you have "valid" points but you're twisting my position.

        I don't let my nine year old play those kinds of games and I take a personal interest in that process. I don't want the state policing my involvement, the game ratings already on the box assist me in that process.

      • Jack, that IS you! So happy to see you here. What are you doing for work these days since the disbarment?

      • by Anonymous Psychopath (18031) on Wednesday February 22, 2012 @12:54AM (#39120985) Homepage

        1972, Pong is released. Violent crime rate in the US (includes murder, rape, and aggravated assault) is 0.2%.
        1993, Doom, the first 3rd-person shooter video game, is released. Violent crime rate in the US (includes murder, rape, and aggravated assault) is 0.4%.
        2010. Video games, many of them violent and played by surly teenagers, are bigger than movies. Violent crime rate in the US (includes murder, rape, and aggravated assault) is 0.2%.

        Source: http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/uscrime.htm [disastercenter.com]

      • You support government thought-control of yourself and 100s of millions of adults to hypothetically protect a small minority of children from an imaginary threat while your heart bleeds for government Ivy League lawyers, government media whores, government espionage creeps, corporate cubicle/retail drones, etc. who eagerly sold their souls. Study at the feet of a real thinker like Larry Flynt until you understand what it means to be free.
      • by Hatta (162192)

        you dont have a 'right' to sell children simulated experiences of murdering prostitutes and robbing them, any more than you have a 'right' to sell them simulated experiences of fucking prostitutes, or to put cigarette advertising inside of comic books.

        Of course you have that right. Why wouldn't you? If parents don't want their kids to see something, they can prohibit their kid from seeing it. It's not my job to enforce the prudery of parents.

        of all the actual, real censorship going on in society today, n

  • Interesting (Score:5, Funny)

    by colinrichardday (768814) <colin.day.6@hotmail.com> on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @09:34PM (#39119307)

    Arnold Schwarzenegger tried to prevent children from experiencing violence?

    • That's probably why he never played in a violent movie, to set himself up as an example.
      • by Osgeld (1900440)

        I remember commando, it was a heartwarming tale of a girl and her father bonding on a tropical adventure...

    • Not Arnold... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by tomhath (637240)
      FTA:

      Created by California lawmaker Former San Francisco Democratic Assemblyman Leland Yee, now a senator, in the hopes of curbing children’s access to games that allow for assassination, violent crimes, rape, etc.

      Seems this was a law the Democrats "attempted to push through".

      • by gmhowell (26755)

        FTA:

        Created by California lawmaker Former San Francisco Democratic Assemblyman Leland Yee, now a senator, in the hopes of curbing children’s access to games that allow for assassination, violent crimes, rape, etc.

        Seems this was a law the Democrats "attempted to push through".

        And with the signature of the Republican governor, they did.

      • And how many of those Democrats starred in violent movies? I wasn't trying to make a partisan statement.

    • by c4tp (526292)
      Schwartzenegger, the guy from the humorless family classic Jingle All the Way? Of course he hates violence, he has Junior to think about!
      • by c4tp (526292)
        By the way, these are just about the only two movies he's made that don't have guns (or swords) in them. Not saying they don't, but they're his "cleanest" films for sure.
        • By the way, these are just about the only two movies he's made that don't have guns (or swords) in them. Not saying they don't, but they're his "cleanest" films for sure.

          Kindergarten Cop. There were guns in the beginning and end, but not so much in the middle. Actually wasn't a bad comedy.

    • by gmhowell (26755)

      Arnold Schwarzenegger tried to prevent children from experiencing violence?

      He had no movies coming out, so he stood nothing to lose. (or loose, as all the kids say these days)

    • Arnold Schwarzenegger tried to prevent children from experiencing violence?

      You've never had a guilty conscience? ;]

  • by VinylRecords (1292374) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @09:37PM (#39119333)

    Come on...this should have been submitted in the slashdot summary within the first two or three sentences.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Violent brutality in video games should only be depicted between a man and a woman, man on man violence sends the wrong message to our children and encourages deviant behaviour.

  • *points at California*

    Ha ha.

  • The time spent on legislating, the time spent on making it official, the time *some* people might have spent actually enforcing that law, all that adds up to more than 2 million $, probably by an order of magnitude at least. They are only counting the fee the state has to pay.

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