Thompson-penned game bill moves ahead

Obscenity-based legislation coauthored by antigame activist gets approval from Louisiana Senate Judiciary Committee.

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Jack Thompson, Esq.
Jack Thompson, Esq.
A proposed ban on the sale or rental of violent games to minors is another step closer to passing the Louisiana legislature this week, as The Shreveport Times is reporting that HB1381 has been approved by the Senate Judiciary A Committee and will now go to the Senate for final debate.

According to the report, representative Roy Burrell, the Democrat who authored the bill with the help of Miami attorney Jack Thompson, showed the committee a sampling of gameplay from the Grand Theft Auto series. In the clips, the player fought with police officers and attacked a woman with a chainsaw. He also engaged in implied sex with a prostitute in a rocking vehicle before chasing her across a parking lot and beating her to recoup his cash.

Representatives of the Entertainment Software Association were on hand to offer their objections to the bill, and New Orleans attorney William Rittenberg reportedly told the committee that the bill would be ruled unconstitutional, and he would make "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in a court challenge to overturn the measure should it become law.

According to the text of the bill, it would be illegal to sell, rent, or lease a game to a minor if it met the following three conditions:

(1) The average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the video or computer game, taken as a whole, appeals to the minor's morbid interest in violence.
(2) The game depicts violence in a manner patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community with respect to what is suitable for minors.
(3) The game, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.

The bill was based on obscenity laws that have previously withstood legal challenges. If it becomes law, violators could be fined between $100 and $2,000, imprisoned for up to a year, or both.

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