Constitutional Law, Free Speech, Video games, Violence

Connecticut State Representative Proposes 10 Percent Tax On Mature Video Games

Ed. note: This post appears courtesy of our friends at Techdirt. We’ll be sharing law-related posts from Techdirt from time to time in these pages.

Silly reactions to violent video games are coming so fast these days it makes one’s head spin. Redundant labeling of games, doubling down on unconstitutional laws, and even special 1% taxes for games with a rating of “Teen” and above… It’s quite difficult to parse out the well-intentioned silliness from the grandstanding silliness. What’s clear, however, is that there are a great many people who don’t recognize games as the speech that they are.

One state representative from Connecticut, home of the Sandy Hook tragedy, is now upping the ante on that last idea and proposing a 10% tax on games that are rated “mature”….

Here’s Rep. Debralee Hovey’s idea:

“That the general statutes be amended to establish a sales tax on the sale of video games rated “mature” at a rate of ten per cent on the entire sales price and to require the moneys derived from such sales tax be used by the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services for the purpose of developing informational materials to educate families on the warning signs of video game addiction and antisocial behavior.”

There is more than one problem with this type of legislation, but let’s get the most obvious out of the way: it’s likely unconstitutional. Courts have held in the past that both limiting violent games, as well as taxing specific types of speech differently than others, fails on constitutional grounds. Hovey’s proposal would appear to violate both precedents. But even if that weren’t the case, Forbes goes further in explaining how dangerously dumb this is.

This is of course punishing an industry based on conjecture, as no concrete evidence has yet been put forth linking video games and violent actions. The Obama administration’s new gun plans do involve the NHS studying this link, but as nothing is proven (and likely won’t be), video games should not be treated in the same way as a product proven to cause cancer.

I’ve said this before, but I will say it again: emotion is not a reliable basis for legislature. Ever. Data is what should drive laws and, in this case, the data is at best inconclusive and at worst nonexistent. Proposing laws without data to perform the function that is supposed to be performed by parents is the height of a nanny state.

CT State Representative Proposes 10% Tax On Mature Video Games [Techdirt]

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