Utah governor vetoes game bill

Jack Thompson-penned legislation targeted at retailers who sell mature games to minors nixed due to First Amendment concerns.

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After cruising through Utah's legislative branch, a bill that took a new approach to keeping inappropriate games out of children's hands suffered its first setback today when Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. vetoed it. The bill was crafted in part by notorious gaming activist and disbarred attorney Jack Thompson. It seeks to amend Utah's Truth in Advertising Act to punish businesses that sell age-rated media to audiences outside of the recommended age groups, but only if they do so against stated policies.

Fun fact: Gov. Huntsman is fluent in Mandarin Chinese.

In a letter to the legislature, the governor explained his objection to the bill, saying that the language used is so broad that it could be struck down for "an unconstitutional violation of the Dormant Commerce Clause and/or the First Amendment." He also indicated that retailers had told him that they would no longer use the ratings system rather than be liable for enforcing it under the law.

Entertainment Software Association president Michael Gallagher hailed the decision in a statement, saying, "This is an absolute win for families. Utah's parents will benefit from Governor Huntsman's leadership and thoughtfulness on this issue. His decisive action helps caregivers and prevents businesses from being opened to unproductive, wasteful civil litigation and needless expense." To date, the ESA has recovered more than $1.5 million in legal fees from states that passed--and fought to keep--antigame laws that were ultimately judged unconstitutional.

Under Utah law, the bill now returns to the legislature, where it will be reconsidered in light of his objections. The state House and Senate can override the veto and force the bill into law if they each vote in favor of the bill with a two-thirds majority. Both the House and Senate overwhelmingly voted in favor of the bill previously, far surpassing the two-thirds threshold.

Discussion

44 comments
Jedilink109
Jedilink109

Even if they DID pass the law, just like the Governor said, stores would stop having their own rules on the matter and just go ahead and be free of liability. I think Jack Thompson has a noble crusade....he's just not putting his energy in the right place or on the right things. He thinks games are the downfall of modern society and that they're corrupting children. This isn't the case. And there's MUCH MUCH larger problems he could and should be parading against in order to protect his country and it's citizens from harm. Not to mention the fact that these people don't seem to realise that these bills are unconstitutional and are making laws going AGAINST works that are fully protected under the 1st Amendment.

dockholidaiy
dockholidaiy

I wish that the consoles would allow for AO games. Most gamers are adults and i don't see why we all need to be bound to games that are made primarily for 17 year old kids. Its not fair that the movie industry can do more in R rated movies than a MA 17 video game can. Just take SAW for example. You will never see a game that is as graphic as SAW.

BtmnHatesRbn
BtmnHatesRbn

Just mention that, besides Liberman (one of Thompson's friends), Hillary Clinton proposed and conducted investigations into a gaming bill on a nation level. Frankly, leave it up to the parents. There's no need to have any form of censorship for anything in this nation. Censorship leads to extremes, such as barring booze leads to binges, barring porn leads to somebody getting too involved with it, etc. We're the only nation crazy enough to propose and allow laws like this, though the other nations aren't so hot either. As for Jack Thompson, was his dad the guy who went after the comic book companies in the 1950s? Or movies in the 1920s? Or women showing their elbows in the 1880s? Or how no slaves in the 1860s? And was Thompson's ancestors also against no taxation with representation in the 1770s? Or against freedom of religion in the 1640s? Jack Thompson and his "friends" are idiots.

lamprey263
lamprey263

well, the biggest incentive to veto the bill would have been the ESA's record in overturning these laws followed by a recovery of their legal fees at the state's expense, which is significant enough to realize it's a savings to veto such legislation

grigjd3
grigjd3

Evidently the governor of Utah has a brain and chooses to use it.

Autolycus
Autolycus

WASTE OF TIME, STOP RE-ELECTING THE PEOPLE THAT ARE FOR THIS! Praise the Governor for being smart enough to see exactly where this Bill would have landed... back where it started. For the upteenth time.

silent_step
silent_step

Oh and hoo rah for common sense prevailing if only by one person instead of many... (sigh. the political system, re-election votes...)

silent_step
silent_step

@ hannify... wtf does the 2nd amendment has to do with the first amendment? Bearing arms and freedom of speech, press, ect. are no way related. Hell, it is bad litigation in order to further personal agendas but it has no way being enforced by the police or by any agencies other than minor stings. Nor would it, the police don't consider this non-index crime or mala prohibita to be worth their time. Unless they have nothing better to do... but seriously...2nd amendment? wtf.

Rect_Pola
Rect_Pola

The ratings cannot be a legal vehicle because it is not a perfect system. This has been made clear many times before. It relies on subjective opinions based on the material developers give to be review (the Hot Coffee scandal proved how easy for the trust this requires to be abused and allow something to fall through) The ratings are at best a dossier of what to expect and a worst a vague warning. It exists so retailers and parents can be mildly informed within 5 seconds and take a little responsibility. Because that what this is about. Jack Thompson believes ALL adults are so stupid and ALL their spawn are so impressionable heavy laws that affect every last one of them must be enacted to keep society from regressing into gun crazy psychotics and waging war against everything that moves.

fritter7
fritter7

@ bwilkins928 Trust me, Jack Thompson would be ecstatic if video games would just disappear. What if in ten years he gets this bill passed in most states? Then he'll do something like try to ban AO rated games. If this keeps going, soon we'll have censorship like Australia on our hands (no offense to Australia :P) EDIT: Didn't mean to make it sound like Thompson was leading a one-man charge. There's plenty of anti-gaming activists on his side.

atopp399
atopp399

Most prime time television is worse than a majority of the M rated games. Look at CSI for example. It gets pretty graphic. Not to mention all the sex on TV. These parenting laws they keep trying to come up with are a joke.

snakes3425
snakes3425

Jack Thompson needs to realise the US Constitution is the supreme law of the land, not a soap box preaching lawyer. It's been that way since the Founding Fathers wrote it in 1787

forhekset
forhekset

Hitokiri: The bill has ramifications which go beyond that issue. Besides, parents should be responsible regardless, the law is not needed. I only care cause there's retarded stuff like this going on here in AU to an extent.

nurse_tsunami
nurse_tsunami

While I agree that kids have no business playing M rated games, passing unconstitutional bills that ultimately get overruled by the state supreme court isn't productive. Parents have to assume some level of responsibility for their kids. If they control the purse-strings, they should monitor what they are buying. It is hardly the store's fault if a parent can't figure out a game like GTA 4 isn't for a 10 y/o.

MadCat221
MadCat221

StZiggy: Gaming is a scapegoat. The act of scapegoating is intended to deflect attention away from real problems. Anyhoo, I'm glad at least one governer is willing to abide by the US constitution, despite his state's legislature's willingness to disregard it and deign to give any sort of time to a disbarred crackpot lawyer's ramblings.

I_Am_Sin_Seared
I_Am_Sin_Seared

well I do wish they stopped M games from gettin into children's hands

The_Hitokiri
The_Hitokiri

While they need to be careful as to how they write the law, there DO need to be laws in place, keeping games like Grand Theft Auto, away from children. Of course, if parents would pay attention, we wouldn't need those laws. But, since they don't pay attention, we do.

bwilkins928
bwilkins928

dont live in utah. dont care. over 21. dont care. as you can see... i really dont care.

stziggy
stziggy

It's nice to see common sense prevailed in Utah. Even if the legislature overrides the veto, the state supreme court will strike this bill down. This can't be the most pressing matter going on in Utah. Don't these folks have something better to do, like try to end the recession, repair health care, fix the schools......you know, things that actually improve the quality of life in Utah.

MSPeck17
MSPeck17

Jack Thompson should shut up and go away already. He's pathetic and a waste of time, along with his little helper, Hilary Clinton.

haichuu
haichuu

no celebration yet as this still has a very good chance of becoming law...

strayfies
strayfies

Jack Thompson could make more progress if he switched sides. And everyone look up which political party Jon Huntsman is in.

PumpkinBoogie
PumpkinBoogie

Oh thank god....there's actually someone in Utah government (ironically the freakin' governor of the state!) that actually ain't completely drunk off the Thompsonade. Phew, all seems not completely lost for the state of Utah (...at least not yet).

nappan
nappan

wow... legislation SO BAD the governer of Utah actually nixed it. It must have been positively foaming at the mouth lol.

Desperados11
Desperados11

lol @ fixer293 nice one poor Jack Thompson :P As for this governor I'm glad he kept a level head and saw the bill for the violation of rights it is.

KingKevo71789
KingKevo71789

in all seriousness, good for Gov. Huntsman for not buying into this latest Thompson attention-grab

KingKevo71789
KingKevo71789

Nick_Hexum Posted Mar 26, 2009 2:11 am GMT Yay for a level-headed republican that's not afraid to call bs when he sees it. ------------------ Lord knows if there were more of them, us Dems wouldn't have utterly annihilated them in 06 and 08. :p

fixer293
fixer293

Tom Tucker: Good evening, Im Tom Tucker, tonight the Utah game bill has been struck down by the governor. Diane Simmons: Yes, it seems the once fragile mind of Miami lawyer Jack Thompson has finally collapsed. (cut to seen of jack Thompson in strait jacket singing King Henry the 8th, as asylum door is shut.) Tom Tucker: What do you think Ollie Ollie Williams: MAN'S CRAZY!!! Tom Tucker: Thank you Ollie, now sports.

hatieshorrer
hatieshorrer

Whats the point of this bill most retail stores refuse to sale M-rated games to minors and the parents buy it for their kids anyway so it doesnt change anything.

Terminal_Omega
Terminal_Omega

Nothing to see here people - even if the bill somehow gets enough support for a veto override, it will eventually end up in court and struck down as a violation of the First Amendment. This is coming from a law student currently studying Constitutional law for his final exam.

daabulls23
daabulls23

I hope this sends a message, although who knows what the House and Senate will do now? I bet it passes...

ahpuck
ahpuck

are any real gamers fighting this fool? or do we just sit by the sidelines and watch him hit the wall time and time again? maybe he should move to iran(or any of those countries), where the government dictates what you can and you can't do, he will fit right in. i'll chip in for the one way ticket.

expandingeye
expandingeye

Jack thompson needs to get into an actual line of work, not this bulls*** whistle blowing business.

Gao_Wuji
Gao_Wuji

"Personally, I let my 8 year old cousin play BioShock..... the 'choice of being a murderer or a savior' was a little bit of a shock to her, but we talked it out and she realized that many people have that choice in their lives.... and they choose to be the first thing, not the second." Are you saying more people choose to be a murderer or a savior? And in the game or real life? This stuff will never really work. A game prohibition does sound like a comical thing though. We could have game bootleggers, and Chicago can get some of it's excitment back.

Nick_Hexum
Nick_Hexum

Yay for a level-headed republican that's not afraid to call bs when he sees it.

maverick_76
maverick_76

And on this week's episode of, "Jack Thompson knows best....another game law that makes parents more into meat production factories and less into moral teachers, yay!"

truedog80
truedog80

jack thompson may or may not prefer pepperoni pizza to mushroom pizza, and while it may seem obvious that pepperoni is a very popular pizza topping choice, mushroom is still quite popular, especially among men that have built up some years.

chibi-acer
chibi-acer

Wow, a governor that actually pays attention. It's stupid to waste time on a law that will instantly be struck down by judges as unconstitutional. This probably helped the state save a fair amount of money.

X3Warrior
X3Warrior

I knew that we haven't seen the last of Jack Thompson. Will this guy just crawl back under his rock and give us gamers some peace?!

hobotech64
hobotech64

Good news for gamers in Utah, but a complete waste of time for everyone else.

Leria
Leria

Fact is that the only people who should be dictating what children buy are their parents, and then only because they are supplying the money to buy the games. Personally, I let my 8 year old cousin play BioShock..... the 'choice of being a murderer or a savior' was a little bit of a shock to her, but we talked it out and she realized that many people have that choice in their lives.... and they choose to be the first thing, not the second.

breakitapart
breakitapart

I can't help but feel that maybe- just maybe- my letter to my Governor might have made an impact at the beginning of the week. :) "businesses from being opened to unproductive, wasteful civil litigation and needless expense" is an understatement...

jeffokiecorry2
jeffokiecorry2

Good job Governor Huntsman! It's nice to know he trust us parents to do our job. We sure try. The thinking behind the bill is fine, in my opinion, it's just that parents can do this too, and they ought to. Hmmn. Prohibition never really worked and those of us who just plain don't want to buy M games, don't have to. Now just to teach parents to look at the descriptors, because not all M games are created equal. Halo is pretty tame compared to God of War or GTA...