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Utah Senate, House Pass Jack Thompson's Game Sales Bill 200

Ars Technica reports that the Utah State Senate and House have both passed Jack Thompson's proposed legislation that would stiffen penalties for the sale of M-rated games to minors. Oddly, on its trip through the state legislature, amendments rendered it largely ineffective; retailers are in the clear if the employee who sold the game goes through a training program, or if the minor misrepresents his age. It's also possible that the bill could cause some retailers to simply take down their ESRB-related advertising. Thompson's statements about the bill put the focus on advertising, but discussion on the Utah Senate floor had a familiar ring, touching on the story of a Grand Theft Auto player who killed two policemen in 2003. The ESRB wrote an open letter in opposition of the bill, saying it could undo the efforts they've made to popularize their rating system. The bill's sponsors fired back, questioning the industry's overall commitment to ratings, and now it awaits only the governor's signature before becoming law.
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Utah Senate, House Pass Jack Thompson's Game Sales Bill

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 15, 2009 @06:19PM (#27203445)

    STILL listening to Jack Thompson? He's already been certified crazy, disbarred with extreme prejudice (out of a cannon, into the sun) and will probably never practice law ever again.

    Besides, we all know Jack Thompson died when Penny Arcade was honored by Washington.

    • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @06:41PM (#27203733) Journal

      Um, this is Utah.

      • by besalope ( 1186101 ) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @08:45PM (#27204785)

        Um, this is Utah.

        Yeah, silly AC thought the constituents of Utah were people.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dbcad7 ( 771464 )
        Just keep in mind that crap sometimes spreads.. There was a time when you could smoke on the Greyhound bus.. that is until you entered the state of Utah.. look where we are at today.
        • by masterzora ( 871343 ) <masterzora @ g m a> on Sunday March 15, 2009 @10:03PM (#27205573) Homepage
          Yeah, now I can travel on that Greyhound bus next weekend without me having to worry about some idiot smoking and triggering my asthma. This bill may be total crap, but it's good to know that I have to thank Utah for something now.
      • by Ahnteis ( 746045 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @01:37AM (#27206999)


        It's getting as bad as Digg around here.

        How about this: Politicians (UT or otherwise) are idiots who will do anything they *think* will make them popular. Right now fighting the evil scourge of video games is a popular choice.

        The fact that they're doing this all over the nation should teach us several things -- none of which is "Um, this is Utah."

    • This bill has been worked on for a while, starting well before he was disbarred.
  • by unlametheweak ( 1102159 ) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @06:19PM (#27203447)

    Didn't Jack Thompson die?

  • must be required to at least pass the 3rd grade?

    Even if one video game player killed a cop, that doesn't begin to make things equal to cops who kill with tasers, or cops who accidentally kill innocent civilians because they are too fucking ignorant to make sure they are doing the no-knock raid on the right house.

    More fairness in legislation! Yes, the Utah legislators are right on the money for this one. God forbid terrorist game players ever leave the grip of their game consoles.... fucking idiots

    • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @06:49PM (#27203803) Journal

      This is no different than the war waged by the religious fanatics (and yes, folks, Utah is filled with them) against fantasy roleplaying games. They latched on to something of an urban myth surrounding James Dallas Egbert III []. Religious fanaticism, ignorance and intense dishonesty go hand in hand with these types.

    • What good is posting this here going to do? You're preaching to the choir. We all know that this is stupid; we also know that JT is a jackass. That doesn't stop the rest of the world from listening to and believing him; and it doesn't stop legislators from being clueless. (Along with the vast majority of people who find such notions credible)

      If you want to do something about it, set about educating your elected representatives (assuming you're in the US...). That's the only thing that can make a dif

    • You don't like cops much do you? []

      Isn't the point of the M rating that kids don't buy these titles anyways?

      This is just a repetitive law. Just like the hate crime laws passed to make hate crimes murder more illegal than regular murder. Or added laws about selling and distributing alcohol / tobacco to minors.

    • God forbid terrorist game players ever leave the grip of their game consoles....

      Exactly why legislation like this should be shot down! If game players are driven from their consoles by puritans, we'll become terrorists! Clearly every house with a game console in it must be covertly replaced with a very deep crater, to ensure this terrorist threat never be allowed to materialise.

    • Did you actually read the article? The bill that was passed only increased the penalties for selling M rated games to minors, and easily avoided penalties at that.

      They aren't forbidding anyone from buying the game (who can legally do so), they aren't making it any harder to buy the game (who can legally do so).

      In fact, this is the only part of game development that the legislature needs to be involved in, is the sale of it to minors. The biggest hole in Thompson's argument is that none of the kids w
  • The gist (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shin-LaC ( 1333529 ) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @06:26PM (#27203537)
    From skimming a selection of the linked sources, the gist is that they're using a false advertising angle: if a retailer says "we won't sell M-rated games to children" (like most do), and then sells them anyway, they will be fined; however, if a retailer makes no such claim, they'll be unaffected. So the safest choice for a retailer is to simply drop their voluntary policy not to sell M-rated games to minors, to avoid liability in case they ever make a mistake.
  • by bugi ( 8479 ) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @06:27PM (#27203545)

    Only three GTA players have killed cops? GTA must make people less likely to kill cops. After all, think of all the killing of cops not associated with GTA players.

    Hmm, perhaps an occasional game of fake-blow-shit-up would make disaffected youths less likely to really-blow-shit-up? It is all about the kids, right?

    • by dogmatixpsych ( 786818 ) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @08:18PM (#27204551) Journal
      Ah, but what if those 3 players would not have otherwise killed cops?

      Catharsis is a myth; no research supports it. All we've ever learned from psychology research about violence is that it is largely a learned behavior. Kids will learn it mainly from family and friends but they also learn violence from strangers, TV, movies, music, and games. Now, violent media may not explain a lot of the variance in violent behaviors but it is completely naive to say that it does not have an affect. There are some people who can drink alcohol and never become alcoholic; there are others who try alcohol once and become alcoholic very quickly. It's the same with violence. Just because violent games may not generally lead to increased rates of violence in a society, does not mean that they don't for some people.

      I'm not calling for a censorship of violent games. I'm not even sure I like this legislation (I'd have to read the full bill to form a good opinion) and I'm certainly not in favor of a government doing the parenting that parents should do but kids don't need to be playing some of the games that they play.
      • by bugi ( 8479 )

        That's a slippery slope you're on (but kudos for all the qualifiers). Do I have this correct? Is the argument that because *some* people are inherently prone to addiction to X, nobody should have access to X? We (USians) tried that with alcohol and we're trying it with "drugs" -- now we're going into the same pit with games? Better be careful or that game of Operation might turn your kid into a sadist.

        Regarding those three, by your argument they would've killed somebody anyway. At least cops go in with

        • by mpe ( 36238 )
          That's a slippery slope you're on (but kudos for all the qualifiers). Do I have this correct? Is the argument that because *some* people are inherently prone to addiction to X, nobody should have access to X? We (USians) tried that with alcohol and we're trying it with "drugs" -- now we're going into the same pit with games?

          A basic problem with drug prohibition is that the "cure" is worst that the "disease". Which is something which was never learned from alcohol prohibition. Though it's difficult to know
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by spire3661 ( 1038968 )

        Violence is a learned behavior? I cant think of a more natural action then violence. Really irritates me when people forget that humans are still animals, driven by the same urges as animals, with only sentience to quell it. When one animal kills another we ascribe no malice to it, but when a human does it all of a sudden its a crime against god....

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          This troubles me. I can definitely deduce a sense of inverted logocentrism in your post. Human beings are not animals. Even "animals" are not animals - at least not in the sense you advocate. What you refer to (if I read your post correctly) is the paranoic human ecology. A radical separation of self from world, such that self *becomes* world.

          I think it important to stand against human/human crime on the very assertion you make in your original post.

          but when a human does it all of a sudden its a crime against god....

          As Martin Niemoller said "We must go on believing the

          • I'm sorry, Slashdot is an English-only forum. In the future, please make sure to post in a language we can understand.
            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              1) Tell me what you don't understand. I'll explicate, if you're polite.

              2) Yeah, I guess I could have just said "be nice," "make love, not war." They do make good sound-bites, don't they...? But were I do go about preaching like that I'd run the risk of being a hippie. I find the idea of humans killing other human beings under the auspices of "we are all animals, right?" completely irrational and utterly repugnant AND has nothing to do with neither "being nice" nor "making war."

              3) Please don't conflate y

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by gandhi_2 ( 1108023 )

          Killing a fellow human is a learned behavior. Almost every single person has an innate resistance to killing someone. There's plenty of research to back this up.

          • Thousands of muskets filled to the muzzle with loads that were never fired.
          • A civil-war era study that calculated the accuracy of an Infantry Company: If all the troops were really trying to kill eachother, battles would have lasted minutes, not days.
          • Studies that found that in all wars UP till the Vietnam war, the vast majority of US soldiers IN COM
      • Oops, "does not have an affect" should read "effect." Man, that's embarrassing!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Spit ( 23158 )

        We are as wired for violence as we are for sex. Natural hormones drive both agression and mating.

      • Catharsis is a myth; no research supports it.

        Show me research that supports that catharsis is a myth.

  • Friggin' Utah. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DurendalMac ( 736637 ) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @06:28PM (#27203561)
    You couldn't pay me to live there. The funny thing is that I know some Mormons who feel the same way. I guess Utah Mormon is a bit of a different breed than Mormons from almost everywhere else. It must be the effect of any one group having a majority. They get to be assholes.
    • Re:Friggin' Utah. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Temujin_12 ( 832986 ) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @08:13PM (#27204513)

      I guess Utah Mormon is a bit of a different breed than Mormons from almost everywhere else. It must be the effect of any one group having a majority.

      Interesting you should say that. As a Mormon who was born and raised in the Seattle area, spent 4 years living in Utah while going to school, and who has since moved back to the Seattle area to start my career, I have some of the same feelings.

      Just yesterday I was in the car with a good friend (also a Mormon who has lived in and out of Utah) and we came the similar conclusion that whenever you have a group that homogeneous, it is human tendency for certain "quirks" to emerge which do not necessarily reflect the identity of the group abroad. You could expect some of the same culturalisms to emerge (some good, some bad) for any other homogenous group.

      That said, I do differ from you in that I could see myself living there (though you would have to pay me to leave Seattle). After living there for a year or two, you learn to ignore the parts of the culture you don't like and embrace the ones that you do.

    • "I guess Utah Mormon is a bit of a different breed than Mormons from almost everywhere else."

      Being Mormon, growing up outside of Utah, and having lived in 4 different states, including Utah, I can't wait until I can move back to Utah. Utah Mormons are no different than Mormons elsewhere - there are just more Mormons per capita so you end up with a few bad seeds, just like you do in every group of people. I've never met nicer people than I have in Utah.

      Utah certainly isn't for everyone, although the Salt
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by IorDMUX ( 870522 )

      I am a Mormon (converted a few years back, in college) and have lived in Ohio and California, but never Utah. I've visited friends in the area and my wife has some extended family there, but I have to say that I can't stand the so-called "Mormon culture" that has sprung up in some areas.

      On issues of religion, we agree fully. As Latter-Day Saints (the actual name of members of the "Mormon" church), I would call them my brethren. But I most certainly don't get the Jello-eating, "oh-my-heck"-curs
  • by arekusu_ou ( 1344373 ) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @06:30PM (#27203591)

    I love how state after state try to pass this exact same bad law, only to have it shot down in the courts and they have to pay legal fines.
    Great to know they're doing something productive.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CrashPoint ( 564165 )
      While this law is thoroughly stupid, it isn't the same one that keeps getting shot down by the courts. The previous batch tried to outright forbid the sale of violent games to minors; this one only provides for penalties when you make such a sale when you publicly claim not to.

      This, of course, only means that it's toothless as well as being unconstitutional.
  • Training programs? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dogun ( 7502 ) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @06:31PM (#27203595) Homepage

    'Training programs' sound like a money-maker for the videogame censorship movement.

  • Utah Senate, House Pass Jack Thompson's Game Sales Bill

    Oddly, on its trip through the state legislature, amendments rendered it largely ineffective...

    So why do you still complain? They added amendments that make the things you fear not happen. I understand that you don't like Utah, but stop making stuff up just to bash them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      So passing a ridiculous bill but adding amendments to make it ineffective in addition to being ridiculous is a good thing? Good job Utah
      • No. Whoever wrote the summary believes that bills are only effective if he/she doesn't like the outcome (since the government is always out to get us!). Now that it has no negative consequences for the author, he/she says it's "ineffective," while that just isn't the case.
        • Re:Come Again? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by dosun88888 ( 265953 ) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @07:52PM (#27204361) Homepage

          The fact that a law is unenforceable doesn't mean that it should be there on the books just for shits and giggles.

      • I'd like to pass a law permitting transcendental numbers to cross the border. You'd get so many interesting riders...
  • Revenge! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by b4upoo ( 166390 ) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @06:52PM (#27203827)

    Picture the sales clerk saying OK kid! You must first misrepresent your age before I am allowed to sell you this game!

    • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @07:11PM (#27203999) Journal

      Picture the sales clerk saying OK kid! You must first misrepresent your age before I am allowed to sell you this game!

      Bart: One "Itchy And Scratchy At It It Again", please.

      Big Tony: How old are you, kid? Keepin' in mind, of course, that I can legally sell you this game unless you are over 18. Think hard before you answer.

      Bart: (thinking) uummm, 23?

      Big Tony: Here you go, and have a nice day.

      (no I don't know why Big Tony would be selling the game)

  • First Utah gives us Orrin Hatch and the DMCA. Then see attempts to regulate keywords []. Now this?

    Utah, could you just leave the union and maybe we can replace your star with American Samoa?
  • The fact that 3 people who have killed police officers played violent video games results in this law? How about this.

    All cop killers have breathed oxygen.
    Therefore use of oxygen may lead to killing cops.
    So they should outlaw breathing oxygen,

    Starting in the Utah state house and senate.

    Im sure that it will be much more effective in stopping crime. :)

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jd ( 1658 )

      If symptoms of a lack of oxygen are taken to include brain death, there is ample evidence they banned oxygen some considerable time ago.

    • by Doug52392 ( 1094585 ) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @08:02PM (#27204431)
      The US has banned numerous chemicals due to their deadly effects, but one chemical is in EVERY PERSON'S HOME! It's called Dihydrogen Monoxide, and it poses a substantial threat to everyone!

      Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO) is a colorless and odorless chemical compound, also referred to by some as Dihydrogen Oxide, Hydrogen Hydroxide, Hydronium Hydroxide, or simply Hydric acid. Its basis is the highly reactive hydroxyl radical, a species shown to mutate DNA, denature proteins, disrupt cell membranes, and chemically alter critical neurotransmitters. The atomic components of DHMO are found in a number of caustic, explosive and poisonous compounds such as Sulfuric Acid, Nitroglycerine and Ethyl Alcohol.

      Each year, Dihydrogen Monoxide is a known causative component in many thousands of deaths and is a major contributor to millions upon millions of dollars in damage to property and the environment. Some of the known perils of Dihydrogen Monoxide are:
      • Death due to accidental inhalation of DHMO, even in small quantities.
      • Prolonged exposure to solid DHMO causes severe tissue damage.
      • Excessive ingestion produces a number of unpleasant though not typically life-threatening side-effects.
      • DHMO is a major component of acid rain.
      • Gaseous DHMO can cause severe burns.
      • Contributes to soil erosion.
      • Leads to corrosion and oxidation of many metals.
      • Contamination of electrical systems often causes short-circuits.
      • Exposure decreases effectiveness of automobile brakes.
      • Found in biopsies of pre-cancerous tumors and lesions.
      • Given to vicious dogs involved in recent deadly attacks.
      • Often associated with killer cyclones in the U.S. Midwest and elsewhere, and in hurricanes including deadly storms in Florida, New Orleans and other areas of the southeastern U.S.
      • Thermal variations in DHMO are a suspected contributor to the El Nino weather effect.

      Not to mention the fact that DHMO can be connected to almost EVERY murder in the United States! All those people dead because someone was allowing this compound into his or her body.

      Just look at some of the uses this deadly chemical is used for:

      • as an industrial solvent and coolant,
      • in nuclear power plants,
      • by the U.S. Navy in the propulsion systems of some older vessels,
      • by elite athletes to improve performance,
      • in the production of Styrofoam,
      • in biological and chemical weapons manufacture,
      • in the development of genetically engineering crops and animals,
      • as a spray-on fire suppressant and retardant,
      • in so-called "family planning" or "reproductive health" clinics,
      • as a major ingredient in many home-brewed bombs,
      • as a byproduct of hydrocarbon combustion in furnaces and air conditioning compressor operation,
      • in cult rituals,
      • by the Church of Scientology on their members and their members' families (although surprisingly, many members recently have contacted to vehemently deny such use),
      • by both the KKK and the NAACP during rallies and marches,
      • by members of Congress who are under investigation for financial corruption and inappropriate IM behavior,
      • by the clientele at a number of bath houses in New York City and San Francisco,
      • historically, in Hitler's death camps in Nazi Germany, and in prisons in Turkey, Serbia, Croatia, Libya, Iraq and Iran,
      • in World War II prison camps in Japan, and in prisons in China, for various forms of torture,
      • during many recent religious and ethnic wars in the Middle East,
      • by many terrorist organizations including al Quaeda,
      • in community swimming pools to maintain chemical balance,
      • in day care centers, purportedly for sanitary purposes,
      • by software engineers, including those producing DICOM programmer APIs and other DICOM software tools,
      • by popular computer science professors,
      • by the semi-divine K
  • Hopefully the ESRB will lose its power in the industry and games will be able to flourish as movies did prior to their censorship by the MPAA. Putting a "18+" sticker on a game should be the responsibility of the game designers. Knowing if the game is appropriate for their children or not is a responsibility of the parent. Refusing to stock games with an 18+ sticker as a major retailer, however, only limits the already pretty limited (by technology and marketing) creative potential of game developers.
    • I preferred the RSAC [] system, which actually required some thought.
    • Explaining to your child why an adult game or movie or program isn't for him or her is surprisingly easy to. "Its not that these games will hurt you or control you or that your not smart enough to understand the material within these games. Its simply that they weren't designed for you. Like watching C-SPAN or the history channel or reading a book on Nietzche instead of a comic book. If you want to play these games, watch some adult television and read some of these books first. Your not missing out on anything."

      But... I read Nietzsche as a child. I would've watched the history channel and C-SPAN if we had had cable. I read encyclopedias and the dictionary instead.

      Yeah, I know, I was a strange kid

  • I don't understand the uproar over the fact that someone is attempting to enforce the restraints suggested by the ESRB. I suppose you might actually be upset that they are wasting tax dollars... but if that is the case, then say so. (The article seems to notice this, I'm just referring to the replies that I have read so far)

    If you have a problem with the idea that a game rated "Mature" might only be appropriate for someone "mature", then consider what the article actually says. The Utah legislature didn't m

  • Its Utah what do you expect? They wear special underwear to protect them from the world and remain in touch with "god"

    Jack Thompson fits right in with those crazy fucks.

  • ... what do you expect? Rationality?
  • Training (Score:3, Insightful)

    by chicago_scott ( 458445 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @10:12AM (#27209593) Journal

    "Retailers are in the clear if the employee who sold the game goes through a training program."

    I wonder which politicians friend will be given the no-bid contract on administering the "training program"? Should bring in a nice fee... 50% of which can be funneled into back into a campaign fund.

  • Dissonance (Score:3, Interesting)

    by stewbacca ( 1033764 ) on Monday March 16, 2009 @11:51AM (#27211259)
    I'm having a hard time connecting the age-limit restriction and the death of two police officers. Is this to say that if a 35 year-old person were to shoot a police officer, we should restrict violent game sales to only those who are 36 or older? These phony imposed age-limits need to go and let parents decide what is best for our kids instead of the government. My kids (13 and 9) will have a harder time drumming up $50 for the game than they would buying it underage anyways.

A bug in the code is worth two in the documentation.