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Massachusetts is latest to propose videogame law blocking minors from violent material

In the latest string of videogame law proposals, the Massachusetts legislature will hold a hearing Tuesday on House Bill 1423, which seeks to restrict minors from buying violent videogames in a similar way how minors are blocked from purchasing sexually explicit material.

As GamePolitics excerpted from HB 1423 regarding the proposed restriction, “Matter is harmful to minors if it is obscene or, if taken as a whole, it… depicts violence in a manner patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community, so as to appeal predominantly to the morbid interest in violence of minors.”

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino is championing this bill. “Children aged 17 and under should not be sold this stuff, so they are not getting into the hands of 9- and 10-year-olds,” said Menino’s chief of human services, Larry Mayes, to the Boston Herald.

While not actively involved in the promotion of the bill, Florida attorney Jack Thompson had a hand in authoring an early January 2007 draft of the HB 1423.

“The Mayor of Boston asked me to draft a bill, on his behalf, for the Massachusetts legislature. Mayors get to do that in Massachusetts,” Thompson said to GamePolitics.

Thompson also had a hand in drafting the HB 1381 game law, which was deemed unconstitutional and forced the state to cover the game industry’s $91,000 in legal fees.

Although Thompson sees the Massachusetts bill as similar to the one that was shot down in Louisiana, he feels that those behind the HB 1423 could achieve a different outcome. “The difference is that these people intend to win the court fight, unlike the knuckleheads in Louisiana,” he said in 2007. “That bill was constitutional. They took a dive because of (ESA boss Doug) Lowenstein’s threats.”





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