I want to write a short post about what my friend masterninja sent me. It was a GameSpot article from 2009. It was a through recap of a speech from Lawrence Walters “an attorney from free-speech and constitutional-rights specialist firm Weston, Garrou, Walters, and Mooney.” I read this article in stunned disbelieve. Take a look at it, and I think you will understand:
Walters–in his 2009 GDC session titled “Silencing The Censors”–identified political correctness as the new battleground on which critics of games will base their future censorship arguments. Walters said the industry should take this new threat as seriously as those who have called for the prohibition of games due to violence, sex, or drug use during the past decade.
“We are in a culture war here,” Walters said. “Like it or not, the video game industry is on the frontline of a war between the family values groups on one hand and the civil libertarians on the other hand. We didn’t ask for this–we’re just trying to entertain people with a product the public seem to want.”
“Just when the decency police and moral values group have been all but defeated in the courts–both of law and public opinion–a new threat has emerged from our left flank: political correctness,” he continued. “The leftist thought police are now wanting to impose their view of propriety on modern cultural discourse. We’re now seeing objections to racial slurs and sexist video game content that feminists and minority groups take offense to. Now without taking a position on the propriety on that content in modern video games, this trend is just as damaging to free expression rights.”
Walters pointed out legislation pending in New York that aims to prohibit sales to minors of games that have various degrees of profanity, racist stereotypes, derogatory language, and/or actions toward a specific group of persons as setting a dangerous precedent.
“Think about that for a minute. Would we ever in a million years tolerate the government passing a law that movies cannot have profanity, racial jokes, or derogatory language? That would eliminate practically every movie made,” he said.
“Now we can debate all day long whether racist stereotypes or derogatory language is even appropriate in video games, but that’s for us to debate, and not for the government to decide,” Walters said. “If this law passes, I think it will open the door for some very dangerous forms of thought control the likes of which we haven’t seen in this country.”
Walters says the best way for the game industry to combat its opponents is by becoming more proactive and not just by responding to laws that have already been passed.
“It needs to reveal its enemies for who they are–radicals on the left and on the right–and marginalize them. They need to speak with a cohesive and united voice on issues related to censorship and video game violence,” he said.”