Friday, February 24, 2006

State of confusion: Utah wants fewer videos, more guns for kids

It seems that the residents of Utah are in a state of confusion about what constitutes danger to their children. While the state legislature is about to make it a felony for an adult to provide a minor with a violent video game, it also is about to lower the hunting age in Utah from 14 to 12.

In addition, state lawmakers want to eliminate the minimum age altogether for hunting turkey and small game. Does quail qualify as small game? Perhaps the Vice President can take his young grandchildren hunting in Utah next time he's in the mood for a little shootin'. Every young'un needs a good peppering every now and then, after all.

While I'm not one to believe that some of the violent video games on the market today are necessarily appropriate for children, that decision should be left to parents to make. And it seems just a bit whacky that they want to eliminate the chance that a child can kill a fake person with a fake gun, but enhance the possibility that he or she can kill a real person with a real gun.

HB257, which passed 56-8, would add extremely violent "interactive video or electronic" games to the state's statute protecting minors from harmful material; the statute is commonly used to prosecute those who provide pornography to children.

To violate the terms of the legislation, a violent video game would have to be "patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community" and lack any serious "literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors."

Rep. Scott Wyatt, R-Logan, said such a tough standard means only the most depraved video games would fall under this bill.

Patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community, eh? In Utah, I guess that means Spongebob Squarepants is out.

Luckily, at least some in Utah appear to have the right perspective on this.

(A) few lawmakers, including Orem Republican Margaret Dayton and Salt Lake City Democrat Ross Romero, questioned HB257's constitutionality.

Dayton said the bill was "frustrating." She dislikes such video games but said violence has certain constitutional protections that pornography does not have.

"That's why we can have pictures in the Bible, battle scenes or war movies," she said.

Romero also didn't like the fact the bill could land a parent in jail for two weeks, if they buy an extremely violent video game for their child.

But that doesn't seem to matter to
Rep. David Hogue, R-Riverton.

"It will set an example that Utah is a family state," he said.

Sending parents to jail for letting their kids play a video game while encouraging younger kids to head out into public with shotguns. Now there are some real family values for you!

(Thanks to The DrewL Bucket's official Utah social and political correspondent, Charlie E - no relation to Sheila E, as far as I know - for contributing to this report.)


At 10:50 AM, Blogger vcthree said...

I've already got several problems with this law...err, legislative morality mandate. "The most depraved video games"? Whom, pray tell, gets to decide the level of depravity? And furthermore, what? Is this bill even neccessary? All this bill does is mollify a boisterous yet pithy group of people who want the government to safeguard them from anything. How many times do I have to say it: PARENTS HAVE CONTROL OVER WHAT COMES INTO THEIR HOME.

How do you even enforce this law? Do you have the Utah State Troopers (who I'm sure have bigger, better, and a hell of enough things that are more important on their plates ) stand in front of the "M" rated games at every EBGames and Best Buy in the state, machine guns in hand? Is the state of Utah going to create an "Counter Depravity Unit", where a bunch of people scan the movements of every person in the state when they buy one of the games on the "Database of Depravity"? Are we to expect CDU agent Jack Bauer coming to your house in Salt Lake City, demanding to see your XBOX games and GameStop reciepts?

It's not okay for kids to kill pixellated people, or watch pixels have sex with each other, or drive the pixellated car off the road. But it's perfectly fine to let preteens kill deer. Okay, Utah. Whatever you say.

At 11:16 AM, Blogger DrewL said...

And you may recall that Utah not long ago had it's very own "Porn Czar" to take a bite out of porn in that state.

Ironically, she was a a 41 year old Mormon woman who had never married, leading many to question the "street cred" of a middle-aged virgin enforcing what is or is not considered acceptable.

Two years after creating the position, the state axed the "Porn Czar" job in a round of budget cuts. I guess the benefit of keeping porn out of Utah ultimately had its price.

At 12:19 PM, Blogger vcthree said...

In all that I've read in regard to the "porn czar", I haven't seen one ounce of shit that she actually did while in the position. Not one. Esentially, Paula Houston was paid$150,000 a year to be a taxpayer supported anti-porn activist.


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