Perhaps not surprisingly, one of the leading battleground states in the 25 to Life controversy is considering its own video game legislation.
As reported in today's Salt Lake City Tribune, State Rep. David Hogue (R-Riverton) is taking up the battle against video game violence.
Hogue's bill, HB 0257 is quite a bit different from most laws crafted to prevent kids from purchasing violent video games. Perhaps in response to the increasingly-heard "violent games as porn" drumbeat, Hogue's measure is designed to amend an existing Utah statute which makes distributing pornography and explicit nudity to minors a felony. Hogue's proposal adds "inappropriate violence" to the porn law.
"We are seeing an increase in mental health problems with juvenile offenders," Hogue told the Tribune... "I feel real strong that violence should be in [the pornography statute]. We need to give parents a tool to protect their children... It's sending out the message that there is more than pornography that is threatening to juveniles."
Hogue's unique approach to the violence issue adds to Utah's existing pornography law such elements as the violence that holds the plot together; violence that trivializes the serious nature of realistic violence; violence that endorses or glorifies torture or "excessive weaponry;" violence that does not demonstrate the consequences or effects of realistic violence; and violence that depicts lead characters who resort to violence freely.
As the Tribune reports, however, even some social conservatives are having a hard time digesting Hogue's bill. Gayle Ruzicka, an anti-porn crusader from the Utah Eagle Forum, told the paper, "The thing I would be concerned about is how this could be used by the state to remove children from their parents."
As might be expected, the Utah branch of the American Civil Liberties Union doesn't think much of the bill.
"You can't just stick violence into an obscenity statute and expect it to stand up to constitutional scrutiny," said Margaret Plane, the organization's legal director. "Obscenity is not protected speech. Government can regulate obscenity. The courts have not said the same thing about violence. There has to be a compelling basis that the harms are caused by the violent video games."
But what about Rep. Hogue's "message?"
"Message bills don't make good law, Plane said. "I thought we'd learned that. This bill is very likely unconstitutionally vague. People need to be able to read something and know how it is going to apply to them."
By the way, Hogue's bill should not be confused with federal legislation planned by Utah congressman Jim Matheson. Matheson's bill was reported by GamePolitics earlier this month.
GP: Good, balanced reporting by the Salt Lake City Tribune on this one. Bad law - and bad grammar - from Rep. Hogue: "I feel real strong that violence should be in (the statute)?