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Utah Republican Suggests Game Clause In Obscenity Bill

Utah Republican Suggests Game Clause In Obscenity Bill

January 25, 2006 | By Simon Carless

January 25, 2006 | By Simon Carless
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In the latest U.S. State-specific example of attempted legislation regarding perceived violent or explicit video games, David L. Hogue, a Utah Republican, has submitted a possible amendation to Utah's obscenity laws, inserting video games directly into the definition of what is obscene.

The obscenity law specifically deals with minors who are less than 18 years old, and Hogue's suggestion adds the word 'video game' into the normally pornography-related law, and then defines a number of extra violence-related clauses.

These include reference to any video game that "depicts lead characters who resort to violence freely", "graphic violence that is not contextually relevant to the material", "taken as a whole, does not have serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors", and applies to any violent game-related acts which are "patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community as a whole with respect to what is suitable material for minors."

However, it is far from clear whether the bill will be passed, since it is still in the planning stage, or even if it it would be constitutional if it was - the ESA game trade organization has successfully brough injunctions against a number of state-based laws over the past few months, blocking their passage into law.

In relation to the Utah law's possible constitutionality, Margaret Plane, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Utah, talking to the Associated Press, commented: "You can't just stick violence into an obscenity statute and expect it to stand up to constitutional scrutiny. Obscenity is not protected speech. Government can regulate obscenity. The courts have not said the same thing about violence.''


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