Video games have been getting banned a lot recently in Australia (and a few Stateside as well). The Social Justice Warrior brigade have been targeting specific kind of games and putting them in front of ratings boards and platform holders and attempting to get them banned so gamers don’t even have a choice in being able to purchase those titles. Well, Liberal Democrats Senator, David Leyonhjelm, has decided to fight back by issuing three bills that will help protect free speech whether it be in debate, in movies, in books, or video games.
Sentator Leyonhjelm’s initiative was published recently over on Medium on July 15th, 2018, where it states…
“Senator Leyonhjelm’s Freedom of Speech Legislation Amendment (Censorship) Bill 2018 will remove the government’s power to ban publications, films and computer games based solely on the grounds that they might offend against standards of morality, decency and propriety.”
The Freedom of Speech Legislation Amendment Bill for censorship was introduced to Australian Parliament on June 25th, along with the bill for security, and the bill for protections against insults and offenses, according to the Parliament of Australia government website.
In simple terms, the bill would protect video games from being banned or prohibited from release within Australia simply because some group of people were offended by the content. The only kind of content that would not be protected is child pornography or hate speech that incites acts of violence. The Medium piece explains…
“The Bill will not remove bans on material that depicts child sex or promotes, incites or instructs in crime, and dealing in child pornography will remain a serious criminal offence.”
One thing that Leyonhjelm made clear in the Medium piece is that ruling via outrage culture is not adherent to upholding the principles of free speech. He explained…
“Feeling insulted or offended is a subjective feeling that can vary enormously between individuals and for which nobody else is responsible,” […]
“Threatening to imprison someone who may not have intended to offend, simply because someone chooses to take offence, is not only unjust; it also undermines public debate.”
What’s more is that Leyonhjelm is no stranger to the world of video games. Last year ahead of the release of Outlast 2, he proceeded to beseech parliament to “leave gamers alone” after the ratings board initially banned the game from being released in Australia. Outlast 2 did eventually release in Australia.
Of course, this still creates a murky area for games like Omega Labyrinth Z, which was also banned in Australia, in the U.K., and prohibited from release on the PS4 in the West. The rulings centered around the game’s depiction of what the ratings board reviewers considered to be underage girls. So would games like Omega Labyrinth Z still be allowed to be released in Australia, or would it still be banned because a group labels it as promotional material for underage sexual activity? And would previously banned games like Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni receive another opportunity to be rated and released?
These bills could drastically change the current censorship culture that plagues Australia when it comes to video games. However, the bills are still in the early phase of the bureaucratic process. There’s still the potential amendments, schedules for amendments, additional readings, and the pass into legislation.
For now, at least we know that someone is fighting for free speech and to protect video games from unlawful bans in the land down under.
(Thanks for the news tip Ebicentre)