I’ll Bet if Joe Biden Ever Played Ni No Kuni, He Would Dig it

BidenNow that Joe Biden has firmly inserted himself into the realm of video game chatter, his chatter seems to be causing a stir. According to Politico, he wants to pass a bill taxing violent video games…and he sees no legal reasons not to do so.  Now, I know I’m just a history teacher and not a hot-shot Columbia lawyer (ed.note: what is this, your “aw shucks,maybe I’m not as smart as you city folk” routine?) but if my memory serves me right, I believe there is a law that would legally not let this happen: it’s called the First Amendment.  Didn’t the Supreme Court pass a bill stating this already?

“Like the protected books, plays, and movies that preceded them, video games communicate ideas — and even social messages — through many familiar literary devices (such as characters, dialogue, plot, and music) and through features distinctive to the medium (such as the player’s interaction with the virtual world). That suffices to confer First Amendment protection.”

The notion of taxing violent video games because they “may” be corrupting America’s youth is just absurd.  Also, who is Biden, or anyone else for that matter, to consider what art is good and which isn’t? What form of art is mildly violent or so violent it’s taxable?  I don’t feel anyone has the right to impose judgement values on others, and that we, the video gamers, should be financially punished for poor judgement calls. It is not the government’s place to decide what art is good and bad, and if it is somehow deemed bad, to tax it. (Sidenote: in calling video games an art form, why are violent paintings by, such as, never under the jurisdiction of the government. Check out the Renaissance painting Judith Slaying Holofernes by one of the few female artists of the time, Artemisia Gentileschi, and try to get Biden-style on that piece of artistic culture and history.)485px-Artemisia_Gentileschi_-_Judith_Beheading_Holofernes_-_WGA8563

By using Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 as an example, the link between violent video games and real life violence is quite minimal.  I am not saying that there is no connection, that would be way too ignorant, but I do believe it is quite minuscule.  My girlfriend (#humblebrag) asked me once while playing Black Ops, “Is there any game that you and your friends play where you don’t kill people?”  It took me a while to answer because most of the games out there that aren’t sport games do usually involve killing. Whether it be zombies in The Walking Dead, or little furry anime creatures in Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. (side note, FFVII lovers pick up this game) Black Ops 2 made over $1 billion dollars in the first 15 days of sales; at $60 a game that’s 16.5 million games sold.  I find it hard to believe that 16.5 million players will now become violent offenders.  If that’s the case then he also has to pass a bill taxing comic books starring the Joker.  Or video games starring the Joker.  Or any movie that has a gun in it where people die.

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7 thoughts on “I’ll Bet if Joe Biden Ever Played Ni No Kuni, He Would Dig it

  1. Nanny taxes in general are pretty noxious, even when it’s for a “good” reason like reducing deaths from smoking. In the context of taxing entertainment, who gets to judge what constitutes taxable violence? Actually, that sounds like an awesome job: watching action movies and playing video games all day. Only downside is you’d be a fuckin’ NARC.

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    • Nanny taxes are not imposed for any reason other than to generate revenue for a government body. Just saying. New York City is not trying to stop people from drinking soda, they want people to keep drinking soda so they can make more money. If you want evidence of this, think about state budgets. If a state thought a tax on cigarettes would reduce smoking, it would plan in its budget for a reduction in the revenue from the tax on cigarettes. States don’t do that so they don’t really think there will be a reduction in smoking because of the cigarette tax.

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  2. Ignoring that such a bill will never get passed (for a myriad of reasons, including, but not limited to, corporate dollars in Congress and general enforcement problems) and ignoring that video games are already subject to state and local sales taxes, I’m not sure a constitutional argument will hold water. The question becomes whether taxing something based on speech is a restriction of speech. I’m unaware of any Supreme Court decision on this subject, but it might be a good argument to make. The question then becomes whether a plaintiff will take this case to court. Keep in mind that typically transaction-based taxes (like a sales tax) is imposed upon the purchaser, not the seller. So, if we take a typical software transaction, Game Developer sells Violent Game to Walmart. That transaction is exempt from sales tax as a sale for resale (because Walmart will resell it). Therefore, Walmart and Game Developer pay no sales tax on that transaction. The next transaction is that Walmart sells Violent Game to Fifteen Year Old. Fifteen year old pays sales tax on the game to Walmart and Walmart pays that sales tax to the state. Walmart pays nothing out of its own pocket; rather the Fifteen Year Old pays the tax. So the question becomes whether Game Developer or Walmart are going to take that case to court. I think the answer is no. So you have to get a group of concerned citizens with standing. Good luck with that.

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  3. I think Walmart would take this case court for sure. A lot of people buy their video games at Walmart. People are no longer coming in to the store to buy video games and/or other spontaneous things they see. Walmart would then lose money.

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    • I think there needs to be some evidence that customers will stop purchasing videogames before Walmart spends the millions of dollars in legal fees to take that case. The biggest bang for Walmart’s buck is to continuing lobbying the shit out of Congress, not to hire a legal team when they are going to lose like $50 of sales for the one person who can’t afford to pay the extra 50 cents of tax. Your outrage is not misplaced, I’m just saying no one is going to care enough to (a) stop buying games or (b) take a case to court.

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  4. Walmart no, but mom and pop video game stores maybe. But a) how many of those places are left and b) where will they get the millions to pay for legal fees?

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