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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

If The Right Wants To Legislate Video Games, They Might Ought To Consider "Freedom of Speech"

     After Newtown, like after any great tragedy where lives are lost in a mass-shooting, you automatically know that the Modern American Right will blame everything but the weapon used - especially "violent video games".

     That later catagory has always intrigued me when the nation as a whole tries to pin the blame for the actions of another on some object, action, disposition, or even attempting to sweep the whole issue under the metaphorical rug.  And the reason it has intrigued me is twofold:  who(m) decides what level of violence to address and what is to be done with the game(s) - meaning will they be summarily removed from the individual store inventory and returned to the manufacturer or will they be taxed.

     Seems that the former isn't being addressed in an honest manner and the latter will most certainly be taxation.  But this whole process posses a threat to one thing the Modern American Right aren't considering: The First Amendment - Freedom of Speech and Expression Thereof:

     I never hasten to reference the ideas of an author from HotAir, as they are generally misleading, patently false to such a degree as to be obscene, and of such a sophist nature that one can't but laugh that people take them even modestly serious.  However, it appears that Patrick Ishmael has got the right idea :

.....I think there will be significant interest in a piece of legislation filed yesterday that would levy “upon sales of all violent video games an excise tax based on the gross receipts or gross proceeds of each sale at a rate of one percent.” Last year in Oklahoma, legislator William Fourkiller (yes, that is his real name) introduced a similar piece of legislation, and it appears the Missouri legislation uses a fair amount of that bill’s language. For instance, a “violent video game” in the Missouri bill is defined as “a video or computer game that has received a rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board of Teen, Mature, or Adult Only” — identical to the Oklahoma proposal.

Of course, as most video game players know, E.S.R.B. ratings do not deal only with “violence” but with language, sexual matter, content dealing with drugs and alcohol, gambling and many other factors.

     And while Congress cannot legislate your freedom of speech or expression thereof, the language within the First Amendment - dependant on the "type" of speech used - does have the ability to be interpreted by the Supreme Court:

 The most basic component of freedom of expression is the right of freedom of speech. The right to freedom of speech allows individuals to express themselves without interference or constraint by the government. The Supreme Court requires the government to provide substantial justification for the interference with the right of free speech where it attempts to regulate the content of the speech. A less stringent test is applied for content-neutral legislation. The Supreme Court has also recognized that the government may prohibit some speech that may cause a breach of the peace or cause violence. For more on unprotected and less protected categories of speech see advocacy of illegal action, fighting words, commercial speech and obscenity. The right to free speech includes other mediums of expression that communicate a message.  The level of protection speech receives also depends on the forum in which it takes place.

     So let's take two things into account here:  What type of speech is a video game?  Since personal moneis are being used - and in light of the Citizen's United - money is now considered "speech" by the US Supreme Court.  Things could get dicey at this point.

     We'll start with what "type of speech" a video game is.

     Does the playing of a particular game - violent or not - interfere to threaten the "right" of another?  Is it "hate speech"?  And who(m) decides either of these or the extention or addition to which this portion of the First Amendment applies. 

     Most people I know - unless they are lucky enough to attend a gaming convention where a new game is released - at this point I'm reminded of the initial commercial for Black Ops II which consisted of joyous gamers reveling at the gameplay and the moment they got to buy their copy - most people play at home and don't have contact with others unless they are playing online in a team format or someone is in the room with them.

     Have you ever come across a person(s) that complained about a video game being played within their immediate proximity and claimed that is removed their right to freedom of religion, the press, assembly, et. al.?  Neither have I.

     So what about the second piece of the puzzle that I don't think many are going to consider - money is new considered speech.

     In the Supreme Court's ruling in the still controversial Citizen's United case, money can be "donated" privately and it is now considered speech.  But, does that extend to money being "donated" to gaming stores and traditional retail outlets - which a set percentage is given to the game's producers - and it still be considered speech?

     I would have to say yes, though there may be just enough gray-area there to have a debate that could drag on endlessly.   Let's take a look.

"If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associates of citizens,  for simply engaging in political speech"

     Uh, oh.  "Political Speech".  That could untmately be the downfall here.  But let's look on.

" The majority argued that the First Amendment protects associations of individuals in addition to individual speakers, and further that the First Amendment does not allow prohibitions of speech based on the identity of the speaker. Corporations, as associations of individuals, therefore have speech rights under the First Amendment. Because spending money is essential to disseminating speech, as established in Buckley v. Valeo, limiting a corporation's ability to spend money is unconstitutional because it limits the ability of its members to associate effectively and to speak on political issues."

     It's these two particular sections of Justice Kennedy's Majority Opinion.  So again, what is considered "political" speech since not every game created that has a particular ESRB rating that includes violent content of a pre-determined level, think of all the games that do.  These would likely include games such as the afformentioned Call of Duty: Black Ops series and many other "first person shooters", but also some that have content that is expressly of a political nature - such as themes and character arcs that include a socio-political bent. 

     No, we aren't going to see this in even semi-violent games like the  Need For Speed series, but would it extend to the Grand Theft Auto series?  Would even a minimal of socio-political content warrant referencing Citizen's United?  Certainly something to consider.

     And while there are systemic risks to consider - the phrase "job killing legislation" certainly springs to mind - how is this going to benefit our country, if at all?  Will banning or limiting the sale of "violent" video content prevent tragedies like what happened at Newtown?  At Tuscon?  At Portland?  In the next city?  I have to be blunt and say that this line of attack from the Modern American Right is a complete waste of our legislators ( at the local, state, and federal levels ) time and our tax dollars - since we are paying their respective salaries. 

     As an aside - is there a definative study that shows that a specific game or games causes a person to act or react in a particular way? 


Malkin Pours On The Spin-Love Little Jimmy O'Keefe

Not content with even attempting honest investigative journalism, James O'Keefe and his blind compatriots at Project Veritas have cranked out another completely worthless video "expose". This time attempting to do something along the lines of point out hypocrisy regarding people that own guns and the poor decision of a New York newspaper that printed a map of registered gun owners in the region. At least this is what we are lead to believe.

 The only problem is they just wasted time, video editing equipment, internet bandwidth, but - but at the same time - managed to maintain the uncheck, unwaivering, and fawning support of select members of the Modern American Right that lap up O'Keefe's nonsenscial prattling and context free experiemnts like so much cream. Naturally, Ed Morrissey over at Hot Air attempted - and poorly at that - to approach this from a semi-professional bit of spin, twitching serial misinformer and mouth-breathing sychophant jumps with glee, but it was Michelle Malkin's metaphorical hand-job for young Jimmy that really made me laugh. In her latest piece of Malking drooling over O'Keefe entitled WHAT I ADMIRE MOST ABOUT JAMES O'KEEFE, the Purse Lipped Rage Princess traded in her faux indignation for a warm hand and some lubricated language to prove her undying affections for little Jimmy:
…is his willingness and unmatched ability to go after the most sacred of sacred cows: The sanctimonious beasts of the Fourth Estate;

…his relentlessness in exposing media double standards;

…his entrepreneurial independence;

…his indefatigable humor;

…and his success in bringing a smile to my face every time he produces another classic video using the very techniques of those hallowed beasts of the Fourth Estate who feign objectivity.
let's take these preposterous bullet points ( no pun intended ) one at a time.

- his willingness to distort, lie, misinform, edit, and go after people whom have done no wrong is certainly there.

 - Ah, the dreaded media that doesn't tow the Right Wing line. I would ask her what her alleged "standards" are, but I think that would fall on deaf ears. We know what they are anyway

 - There is NOTHING even remotely "independant" about what Project Veritas do. He was at the beck and call of the late deacon of "nu-media" lies, Andrew Breitbart and WELL funded by the corporate overlords that funneled cash into Breitbart's media complex. However, he is at least marginally considered "entrepreneurial", if only in the sense that even a liar can make a buck.

- I'm wondering where Malkin gets that O'Keefe is humorous in any shape of the definition.

 - The last bit is where Malkin finishes off little Jimmy with her silver-tongued prattlings. It's actually pretty disgusting when you think about it.

 It truly is a sight to see what the Modern American Right consider investigative journalism. But it doesn't matter to them, so long as it can be destributed and they control the narrative across legitimate media platforms that feel compelled to waste precious airtime on discussing such pointless and meandering fakery. But unfortunately, it happens will continue to.

 I guess I at least a little guilty in that regard simply because of this post.

The Right, Our History, and The Fear of Understanding

The Modern American Right has always had an issue with the accurate portrayals of American History and it being displayed in text and film formats. That's always troubled me. And I'm not alone. Enter Oliver Stone and Showtime. The Right, whether in their more modest and farthers forms, have never liked Stone. I can almost see why - to a fault. From Stone's earlier works like Platoon to his forays into the world of documentaries like Persona Non Gratta, Stone has been cast in the character of a pariah for decades. Now he's about to complete another magnum opus for Showtime on American's "real" history. Enter William Bigelow and the serial distortionists at the Breitbart Media Complex
The polemic, which airs its final installment at 8 p.m. EST tomorrow night, intentionally distorts history in order to paint the United States as a terrible country that oppressed its people and hid the seamy side of its past. Ronald Radosh, in a brilliant attack on Stone and Kuznick in the Wall Street Journal, explains how they twist the truth in order to promulgate their attack on the noblest of nations. He begins by noting that Kuznick wrote in a book of essays that his role entails “creating a bridge between leftist and more moderate students … try to radicalize some of the more moderate and liberal students.” Kuznick said of the Vietnam War that America had gone so far "to the dark side" that "we were the wrong side." The authors deny that the Cold War was necessary, arguing that it only transpired because President Franklin D. Roosevelt dumped his socialist vice-president Henry A. Wallace (their hero) for Harry Truman in 1944. They assert that if Wallace had succeeded Roosevelt instead of Truman, everything would have been hunky dory with the Soviets.
While the documentary, regardless of subject matter, requires that somewhat of a common theme or narrative been reinforced throughout it's running time, the Modern American Right have clearly injected their own narrative without even the slightest attempt to understand that the history of this country isn't all waving flags, rhetorical flourishes from great men and women, and people prospering in the face of adversity. It was - and still is - at many times a bloody and scary place to call home and some of it's primary characters didn't always have a life that was white as snow. So here's the question - what does the Modern American Right have against even mentioning the seemingly more darker portion of our nation's history? They are all too willing at times to talk to us about "the truth", but are quite hesitant when that truth is revealed. This isn't to say that Stone's work on the Showtimes series didn't have historical plot-holes or spend longer stretches of time on subjects where more of a wealth of solid information is available or even hypothesize to a degree. Does that make it a documentary that is without merit? No. Does this mean that Stone is attempting to say that America is a place of nothing but evil and where not everyone is created equal? Not in the least. I'm not going to hold my breath in the hopes that the Modern American Right are going to even begin to accept the true history of our nation within my lifetime. Maybe never - based solely on the fact that they are creating their own dark history of this country, but it doesn't include anything about the Right - as the dark history revolves exclusively within the realm of anyone or anything that doesn't accept conservative or even libertarian beliefs as holy writ.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The General Takes A Stand Against Assault Weapons

This morning on MSNBC, Gen. Stanley McCrystal spoke about his new book, his time in Afghanistan, his resignation, but most importantly - assault weapons in American society. Please watch:

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As I had posted in regards to his resignation, I thought it VERY appropriate that he do so. He - and some of those under his command - acted in a fashion that could easily be deemed insubordonate. He did, fractionally, address this on Morning Joe, and let it be known that his wife supported his decision and thought it the right thing to do. But that is ancillary to the topic of this post. His most powerful statement was this:
I spent a career carrying typically either an M16 or an M4 Carbine. An M4 Carbine fires a .223 caliber round which is 5.56 mm at about 3000 feet per second. When it hits a human body, the effects are devastating. It’s designed for that,” McChrystal explained. “That’s what our soldiers ought to carry. I personally don’t think there’s any need for that kind of weaponry on the streets and particularly around the schools in America.
As of now, the Modern American Right are silent. It is, to hold to the well-known phrase - deafening. Why? They were so eager to champion him after the Rolling Stone article? Oh.......I guess when a man that has devoted over 30 years in service to risking his life for this country speaks out against weapons designed and sold to murder humans, then that's where the line is drawn. How typical. We have heard for years from the Modern American Right about how the Left "never lets a crisis go to waste". To that, I would offer the easily recognized point that the Modern Right never consider the deaths of innocent children, women, wives, teachers, daughters, sons...............and in the name of ensuring that they can have access to assault weapons and never consider that criminals can get them too. I have two daughters. My friends have daughters, and sons, and grandchildren. They have brothers and sisters - all in not only the education community, but in public service of a wide variety. Are we to honestly accept the narrative that handing any or all of them a firearm, of removing a sign that designated that firearms aren't allowed, that ignoring basi building safety precautions in favor of allowing a marginally trained person with a gun at the door is going to fix the problem? Are we.........?

What Is A "Friend Of Isreal'?

I've thought of what this really means within the landscape of our modern socio-political culture for quite a few years. The Modern American Right can never clearly define it, but do they really have to? For me, personally, this stems more from a religiously extreme point of view rather than from anything that will truly benefit the Jewish State. But I could be wrong - hence the question. This morning, I noticed that mouth agape Breitbart worshipper Jim Hoft over at Gateway Pundit had launched one of the first misleading salvos in the attack against Hagel for Defense Secretary. And hyper-partisan hack Ed Morrissey followed suit - only with less bloodthirsty fervor. Links follow accordingly: Iranian Regime Supports Hagel Nomiation For Sec. Of Defense
Iran on Tuesday expressed the hope that Washington’s foreign policy will witness practical changes after US officials announced that President Barack Obama will nominate Chuck Hagel as his next defense secretary. “We hope that practical changes will be created in the US foreign policy and the US officials’ approach will change to respect the nations’ rights,” Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehman-Parast told reporters in Tehran on Tuesday. “We hope that the US officials will favor peace instead of warmongering and recognize the rights of nations instead of interfering in the countries’ internal affairs,” he said. “If such a trend is adopted (by the American officials), hatred for the US hostile policies will decrease, although assessment can be made in action,” the spokesman said. Tehran has been under Washington sanctions after the 1979 Islamic Revolution that toppled a US-backed monarch in the country.
Iran Strangely Cheered By US Secdef Nomination And while Morrissey links to the same article, the title alone shows that he is more concerned with disceminating blatant misinformation. After all, being "hopeful" is completely disparate from "support" and "strangely cheerful". To read these headlines, you'd think Iranian leaders would be celebrating - but they aren't. The reason that the Modern American Right utilize such tactics, why they continually point to Iran as to a defining factor, and why they use the Jewish population ( yes, USE THEM - not befriend them ) is to push the wedge in just a little further. They don't want to face the realities of the world around us. They don't want to be honest with their constituents. They want to seem "caring", "holy", or any other adjective that could distort the five seconds in front of someone's face so they won't pay attention to tomorrow, next week, or even next year. So again, here's the question - what does it mean to be a friend of Isreal? Certainly it's not just attending an AIPAC convention, but there's a great deal of that. And I'm not so ignorant to see that politicians have to save face when election time comes around, but what does your support truly mean? This could, in all reality, extend beyond the Jewish State. And it's not even the "original borders" - something that is strictly off-limits to the Modern American Right in terms of foreign policy discussion. While Chuck Hagel wouldn't have been my personal first choice for Sec. Of Defense, he's lightyears away from people like John McCain - one of his loudest detractors - or just about anyone, save John Kerry. And since we are talking about McCain, let's not he was an ardent supporter of James "Fuck The Jews" Baker. Guess he conveniently forgot those years. Suppose it can be said for most, if not all, of us that the past comes back to haunt you. And Israelis have a past that many of them won't immediately recognize. I'm not talking about biblical or even verifiable historic text, but their history of being treated as metaphorical chess pieces in the foreign policy of this country. Do we endanger them as, if one were to say, showing pictures of the coffins of fallen American soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan would put more troops in harms way? Do we assist them in fighting Palestinians in such a way that would ensure a more productive, a more fruitful life? From how I, and many others, see it - No. Who Is A "Friend Of Isreal"? Certainly not those that would continually boast how they are.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Once More Into The Fray

I opted to step away from blogging here for a year, as the end of 2011 and a plurality of 2012 took a seriously disasterous turn for me on a personal level. I still attempted to keep up with various news and information outlets while trying to piece back together segments of my daily life, but to very little avail. With that said, I feel that it's time for me to settle back in here and share my thoughts on all the elements that this blog was started for in the first place. And honestly, while I did hold back and attempt to approach some of the subject matter contained here from a set perspective, I think that perhaps my naieve outlook all too often lost the plot. So, with the reintroduction out of the way, let's get to work - again......

The Playlist Of Doom

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