Missouri Considering Taxing “Violent” Video Games

So my state of residence is catching one version of the “Legislative Sandy Hook Panic Virus” and is considering a tax on violent video games.

“A Missouri State lawmaker from Taney County wants to tax violent video games in response to the Connecticut shooting.  Missouri House Representative Diane Franklin, a Republican, introduced the bill.  It would put a one percent tax on all video games rated “T” for teen, “M” for mature and adult only… The proposed tax would fund only mental health treatment on top of what the state already has dedicated in the budget.  The bill has been introduced in the house but has not been scheduled for a hearing or a vote.”

This makes no sense to me. Here are some questions I have about the entire idea:

First of all, I am willing to believe there is a violence media correlation, but it applies to TV and Movies at least as much as anything else. As I understand it, cultures that begin to get saturated with Western media also suffer rising crime rates. Assuming that this correlation is causative, why pick out video games? Why allow torture porn to be freely available and then tax far less offensive or disgusting video games?

Secondly, relying on the rating system doesn’t seem warranted from my experience with such games. To this day I still can’t understand why the first Halo game was rated M.  These ratings include a wide range of types of content. Some of it I’m sure should never have been produced for any age. But other is not remotely so “bad.”

Thirdly, why do only “shooter” games have this negative effect? I have never heard of anyone reported to have started “mass punching” after playing a personal hand-to-hand combat game like Tekken. And if those games can also be rated Teen or Mature, why should they be taxed along with the shooters? And what about T-rated racing games? Do they cause illegal street drag racing or dangerous car tricks on the highway?

Fourth, it seems to me that the real threat of all the available video games is being misunderstood. The popular conception is that the games make someone want to be an active killer. But isn’t the real problem with video games is that they train most people to sit around and do nothing? Do we have a problem with proactive people who are prone to take action because of the games? Or do we mostly see an increase in mutant teenage ninja couch potatoes?

Fifth, what about Guitar Hero and Rock Band? I have yet to hear of any rising music star who was trained first on one of these games, and who then went out and acquired a real instrument, and began to play for real. That’s not how video games work.

Sixth, has anyone conducted a study on how males are affected by institutionalized public school? Or about living in settings where they are never allowed outdoors because of fear of crime? Someone stuck inside the house all the time might use video games as a distraction, but the mental health issues may not be due to the video but rather caused by being cooped up indoors.

Seventh, even if some games tend to make people more aggressive, that is not the same as having a mental health problem. How is the money actually going to help anyone?

Eighth, if we really believe these games are dangerous, then isn’t making money off them an implicit endorsement. If I believed that video games caused my child to be killed by a mass shooter, the legislature’s decision to increase revenue for mental health services, would only anger me. And, furthermore, I’ve had a few experiences in Missouri to become fairly certain that dumping some more money into these services means increasing the income of some government contractors who will in turn support the state politicians who got them the loot.

Sandy Hook is already being exploited enough. This doesn’t do justice to the real evil involved in the murders of those children.

22 thoughts on “Missouri Considering Taxing “Violent” Video Games

  1. I think you make some good arguments.

    I think it’s very clear that what we look at and listen to does influence our behavior. The Bible teaches this concept (Ps 101:3, Phil 4:8, 1 Jn 2:16). And, anyhow……isn’t this the way we all learn? Through repetition of auditory, visual, and kinesthetic stimuli? So why are we surprised when impressionable people (especially children) act on those things that they’ve been taught?

    The billion dollar business of advertising is based on that one single concept. Stats show that if a consumer watches a particular ad for an accumulated time of just 15 minutes, it will affect their buying habits for 3 years. One can imagine, then, the affect on the malleable minds of our children who spend long hours playing their video games….or watching violent/sexually charged music videos…or movies in which a number of heinous acts, often against women, are portrayed.

    There are many highly profitable businesses, like the movie industry, which produce all of this garbage and I don’t see them voluntarily stopping production out of altruistic concern for their fellow man. The economic incentives are just too strong.

    It’s a free market and the most effective way to have any impact on it is for Americans to stop buying their products. Since that would mean giving up those things that obviously give them pleasure, I don’t see that happening any time soon.

    Seems to me that at this juncture, we need to be asking some hard questions of ourselves:
    Where is parental oversite?

    What has become of that valuable thing called inhibition?

    Could it be that we are being desensitized and mind-numbed by repetitious acts of mayhem?

    Could it be that the immediate and satisfying reward given a game-player for taking out the enemy contributes to his repeating the action again and again until it becomes almost second nature to him, and the line between reality and fantasy is blurred?

    Could it be that our finding entertainment value in the sights and sounds of brutality and murder speaks to an even greater problem…. with us?

    Maybe a mirror would serve us well at this critical point. A thorough self-examination of what drives us….and our motives… might be needed.

    As a Christian, my own personal belief is that what we are experiencing in our culture is a reflection of what is innately in the heart of man. Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart, we speak and act (Luke 6:45) ….that where our treasure is, there will also be our heart. (Matt 6:21) As a man thinketh in his heart…so is he. (Pro 23:7)

    And God has clearly said that the human heart is deceitful above all and desperately wicked…(Jer 17:9) A hard truth….but that would be your heart and mine.

    Maybe each of us probing his own heart with rigorous honesty would be a more instructive exercise than simply focusing on what’s in our hands.

    Only with a change of heart can we bring about any lasting, positive change in our culture. And only Jesus Christ can make that happen.

  2. If Missouri passes this tax, the response should be for any business in entertainment that relies on videogames, TV, or movies to immediately exit Missouri. To this end, NATO and EMA members should instruct their members with business in Missouri to issue WARN notices and essentially play chicken with the legislature and Governor, saying that we will throw people out of work if this is passed.

  3. You make some good arguments that you cant go based solely on the rating. It might be rated M simply because of some bad language or a nude scene, No violence at all. That said I do believe they are trying to do the right thing. I work as a healthcare provider in MO and can tell you the mental health care here is SADLY lacking. When a judge or a Dr says someone needs to be evaluated or even if a person comes in and says hey Im havin thoughts of hurting myself or someone else i need help, you wouldnt believe how hard it is to even find a facility that will take them. Yeah Im the guy that has to drive 200 miles to get a person in a mental health facility after the hospital has spent literally hours trying to just find one.

    Im all for less taxes an freedom and liberty. In fact im one of those pesky Constitutionalist/ Libertarian types that is supposed to be so bad, BUT if a 1% tax on these types of games AND even movies would help to make mental health care more accessible in this state then i have no problem paying it. That is so long as they have looked for and corrected any problems that may be causing this massive shortage in service.

    1. Isn’t it true that we are now using our prison system for the job formerly done by state institutions. Can’t do anything to someone now until they break a law, and if you could few facilities exist for the long term holding of imbalanced people who may harm themselves or others. Now once they do something we lock em up in jail.

      1. Ive no doubt you are correct. I cant sit here and tell you with certainty that is how it is for sure. I can tell you that there are regions set up in MO and dependig on your region, dictates where you go if you are placed under a 96 hour hold by the court. The one in our region is in St Joseph. That said, I sometimes have to take people there even when they are 96d by the court if they are deemed medically unstable to be transported by Law enforcement. All it takes for that is if they are on something that impairs them to the point the cops arent comfortable being alone with em that far. It is ALOT easier to get em in there if the cops take em though because they have to be medically stable in order to be admitted to the mental health facility.

  4. A big issue I have with war based, shooting games is the fact that they are making entertainment out of someone else’s nightmare. They spit in the faces of the vets who lived through that horror (for real) and pi$$es on the graves of the vets who didn’t make it. I tell this to my son every time he talks about call of duty.

    You are right. What about other things that have influence. When a movie or show teaches something positive the effect is proclaimed loudly for all to hear and consider how wonderful the producers, directors and actors are for making such a great contribution.

    But what of Friday the 13th, or Nightmare on Elm Street, or Saw, or any other violent, horror flick that does nothing but make entertainment out of someone else’s nightmare? You mean to tell me that there is no effect, at least on some? And Hollywood gets together and celebrates the glorification of mental instability and violence by handing out little gold statues of their “god” (Not YHWH. Oscar.).

    When they leave they pretend they care by making a PSA video to bemoan violence that is similar to what they “entertain” us with, only to applaud the positive impact they had with that video (all the while denying that the feature length film they just released could have any effect at all).

    Hypocrisy. Violence is not entertainment. Hollywood has done a lot in desensitizing generations, who now go out and shoot up schools. And they are so stupid that they blame the guns.

    1. You mean to tell me that there is no effect, at least on some?

      That is correct. Those people were already mentally ill. Violent games would would not be a problem (except for people who are mentally ill) if parents did their jobs. Developers cannot plan their games around the mentally ill though.

      1. So then, We should do everything we can to keep these video games out of the hands of the mentally ill. There should be background checks. Limits to how many gaming consoles you are allowed to own, and they must be registered. There should also be limits on the number of games you can own. In addition game manufacturers should be held legally liable for the damage their product causes or contributes to. We must do everything we can. If it saves just one life it is worth it.

        Sound familiar? This is EXACTLY the argument being made to attack law abiding gun owners. If you disagree with what I have said, then you disagree with every gun control argument being made. Thank you for making my point better than I did.

  5. Does anyone truly think that this extra 1% would go exclusively toward mental health treatment? The money they already have “set aside” for mental health treatment doesn’t go exclusively toward that. This is just a money grab, plain and simple. This is no different than the fake charities that try to collect money after a disaster (that the government warns us about, BTW…I guess they hate competition). Those folks exploit the situation to line their pockets, and that’s what the government does with situations like Sandy hook.
    Mark, you said “And, furthermore, I’ve had a few experiences in Missouri to become fairly certain that dumping some more money into these services means increasing the income of some government contractors who will in turn support the state politicians who got them the loot.” That pretty much sums it up.
    FYI, I’m a Missourian too.

  6. How about BANNING them like they are trying to do with guns? Taxing will do about as much good as taxing cigarettes did – NONE – I see kids all over puffing away on cigarettes. BAN the violent video games and the movies.

    1. No-go if it is not pornographic.

      California tried that; SCOTUS said no, ruling that such a ban violates the 1st Amendment in Brown v. EMA in a 7-2 ruling. (Antonin Scalia wrote the majority opinion; Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer dissented separately.)

    2. The government has no business banning ANYTHING. They need to stop telling us how to live our lives. What we eat, wear, drive, furnish our homes with, etc…it’s ALL regulated by the government. We have a first amendment…when we start allowing the government to ban anything, we should expect them to try to ban everything.

      Besides, do you know how many violent video games are sold in this country?

      The number of incidents of mass murder is statistically irrelevant as opposed to the number of video games sold. There may be a correlation in some cases, but in those cases I suspect other, more direct sources of mental problems will be established.

  7. Since when did violence, murder and mayhem become entertainment? It’s been a long, slippery slope from Andy Griffith days. Recall how even that series, he was always the sunny problem-solver in the beginning, later episodes were full of drama and angst, fewer jokes or smiles. The globalist bankers will be trying to enslave a population desensitized to violence– fat chance.

    1. Violence, murder and mayhem have been part of entertainment since the creation of fiction. The Iliad, thought to be one of the earliest fictional works, is thought to have been written around 800 B.C.E.

  8. A game like Batman Arkham City (which is rated T) is far more violent than say, Crysis 1 (which was rated M).

    I will also assume that these non-gamer politicans will try to tax something like Mario (all games in which are rated E) because he jumps on Goombas and Koopas to kill them.

  9. This Missouri politician’s actions are sadly, pathetically typical of what passes for an elected leader any more – got a problem, pass a law, got a complaint, pass a law, got a tragedy, make a name for yourself and pass a law.

  10. You know you live in a Country run by idiots if children are forcibly removed from parents who appropriately discipline them while children of “underprivileged” drug addicts
    are left to rot in filth infested cesspools.

  11. The president says it’s time for “common sense” on more effective background checks and he’s right. It’s also time for “common sense” on how the entertainment industry, centered in Hollywood, has cultivated and marketed graphic, gratuitous violence – particularly to our young – as an acceptable form of mainstream entertainment.

    The “research” thing is a failing stall tactic that those with heavy vested interests in the hugely profitable business of violent entertainment are praying will get them through the current news cycle unscathed.

    Does anyone find it at all curious why political opposites like President Obama and Fox News are both, clearly, taking a hands-off-Hollywood stand by ommision? Is it coincidence, or does major political support and major financial holdings have anything to do with it?

    Common sense is going to have to work both ways, whether special interests like it or not.

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