Hillary Clinton and Video Games: A Cautionary Tale (Part 2 of What You Don't Know About Hillary Clinton Can Hurt You)

Back in the dark ages of the 1990s, a certain hysteria was sweeping the land. Pre-internet, before your children could watch people slice off parts of themselves and have sex with them on YouTube, some parents' groups were falling on their fainting couches over violence and a little bit of sex in video games. This came after the fainting over dirty words in songs. When she was First Lady, and running for Senate from New York, Hillary Clinton took up the cause of stopping the kiddies from seeing digital breasts and blood.

In December 1999, campaigning in more conservative areas of Long Island, Clinton spoke out against the manufacturers of video games and called for uniform ratings across media, hinting that if it wasn't done voluntarily, she would introduce legislation for that if she became senator. She talked about visiting a video arcade: "It's a very revealing and sobering experience." As for games at home, "I couldn't help but be upset when I read about the two boys from Columbine being obsessed with the game Doom."

Her husband, then-President Bill Clinton, using a report from the Federal Trade Commission that said that media companies, including video game makers, targeted young people in their advertising of content with violence, went out on the campaign trail with Hillary Clinton in September of 2000: "President Clinton, making a rare appearance with Hillary Rodham Clinton to support her Senate candidacy in New York at the Jewish Community Center in New Rochelle, condemned the abuses cited in the report. The Clintons suggested they would support government restraints if the industry did not curb advertising aimed at underage audiences."

While a senator in 2005, Hillary Clinton became outraged because the 2004 game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has a mini-game involving "graphic" sex. This is known as the "Hot Coffee" mod to the game, and if a badly-animated cartoon guy nailing a cartoon woman is your thing, you can watch videos of it. Clinton asked the FTC to investigate Rockstar games to see if this was intentional (it was), saying, "I hear from parents all the time about the frustration they feel as they try to pass their own values onto their children in a world where this type of material is readily accessible."

In a statement on her formal letter to the FTC, Clinton went further: "The disturbing material in Grand Theft Auto and other games like it is stealing the innocence of our children and it’s making the difficult job of being a parent even harder...I am announcing these measures today because I believe that the ability of our children to access pornographic and outrageously violent material on video games rated for adults is spiraling out of control."

The measures she was calling for included legislation to "prohibit the sale of violent and sexually explicit video games to minors and put in place a $5000 penalty for those who violate the law." In December 2005, along with Senators Joe Lieberman and Evan Bayh, Clinton announced she was sponsoring a bill, the Family Entertainment Protection Act, that included the fine and community service to the on-site manager of any business that sold or rented "a Mature, Adults-Only, or Ratings Pending game to a person who is younger than seventeen." It also imposed ratings system oversight so that the government could judge whether or not games were being marked "Adults-Only" correctly.

The bill failed to even make it out of committee, thanks to pressure from the video game industry, as well as free speech advocates who called it government censorship. Oh, and the fact that any of the connections that Clinton was making between violence and video games was utter nonsense.

The point here is not that Hillary Clinton attacked video games, although if the Rude Pundit were a gamer, it would give him pause. The reason for bringing this up deserves some context, especially for the kids reading this blog, and it connects very clearly with the 1994 crime bill that has gotten so much attention lately.

And that, sweet readers, is for Part 3.