by Donna Martinez
Former Senior Writer and Editor, John Locke Foundation
One of my favorite constitutional experts is Jonathan Turley of George Washington University. A self-professed liberal, he calls them as he sees them. It’s a rare quality in analysts these days. His latest blog is about an Illinois legislator who thinks he has the solution to Chicago’s rampant problem with carjackings. How bad is the crime? Turley relates his personal experience.
I have one close relative in Chicago who sold his car because it became simply too expensive to continually replace tires and other items regularly stolen in broad daylight. Cars are stripped on city streets by gangs that drive around harvesting sellable items or just stealing entire cars. The solution for many is to simply not have a car.
Rather than putting more police on the streets of Chicago, or working to increase the penalty for the crime of carjacking, here’s the solution offered by a Chicago Democrat.
Rep. Marcus Evans Jr. (D, Chicago) however wants to ban video games like “Grand Theft Auto” which depict “motor vehicle theft with a driver or passenger present.”
Ban a video game? Really? Here’s how far Evans’ bill would go, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Besides addressing carjacking, the bill also changes the definition of a “violent video game” to one in which players “control a character within the video game that is encouraged to perpetuate human-on-human violence in which the player kills or otherwise causes serious physical or psychological harm to another human or an animal.”
This is really about the broader issue of free speech. If Rep. Evans succeeds, I wonder what comes next. Don’t like how women are portrayed in a movie? Ban it. Don’t like the message of freedom in a song? Ban it. Don’t like the religious nature of a play? Ban it.
It’s these kinds of stories that made me sit up and make note of Locke CEO Amy Cooke’s recent Carolina Journal piece.
Former ACLU executive director Ira Glasser, who led the organization in 1977 when it defended a group of neo-Nazis’ right to march in Skokie, Illinois, is concerned about the future of the First Amendment.
In a recent interview with Nick Gillespie of Reason Magazine, Glasser recalls telling a group of college students that, based on his experience at the ACLU, if they care about social justice issues, then free speech is their ally. That was news to them. What astonished him is that “these were very educated, bright young people, and they didn’t seem to know this history.”
I won’t criticize Rep. Evans’ motives for wanting to ban a video game. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he thinks it will curb the carjacking. But I couldn’t disagree more. Problem is, if his solution is adopted, our societal problem becomes much bigger than carjacking. We need bright young people, like those to whom Mr. Glasser referred, to stand up and reject efforts to simply ban what we don’t like.