According to a recent report in The Miami Herald, North Miami's majority Haitian-American council has given preliminary approval to an ordinance that will make it illegal to sell or rent violent games to anyone under 18 without first getting written permission from the parents. The proposal was apparently sparked by Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and was approved when all three of the Haitian council members voted in favor of it. The two non-Haitians on the council voted against it.
Critics of the ordinance say that it's not only unconstitutional, but, because it applies to any game that depicts realistic physical harm to a human form, it's too vague. In theory, a retailer in Miami could be fined for renting a copy of Medal of Honor: Rising Sun to a child, even though its rated "T" for teen.
''We don't believe the First Amendment was written to protect those who want to incite violence,'' said Mayor Joe Celestin, a Haitian-American who introduced the ordinance and is one of Vice City's most vocal critics.
If the ordinance is given final approval by the council it will come into effect in just two weeks. Code enforcement officers would have the power to issue warnings and citations and to impose fines of up to $250 per day or as much as $500 for repeat offenders.
We'll bring you more information on this story as soon as it becomes available.