Rep. David Hogue of the Utah House of Representatives has successfully pushed House Bill 257, which categorizes violent video games as obscene, through a vote by 56 to 8. The bill is not yet a law, but the first hurdle toward becoming one has been cleared; next, the bill will advance to the State Senate.
The bill would make it a felony to provide violent video games, a classification Hogue has not yet defined, to minors. HB257 was originally intended to cover obscene material such as pornography, but Hogue added an amendment during the process to add violent video games to its parameters.
Hogue's bill passed its vote despite reservations from other Representatives, including fellow Republicans Margaret Dayton and Scott Wyatt. Hogue mentioned video games' alleged connection to school shootings as support for the bill, saying "Would these same kids have done this anyway without watching violent videos? Maybe not."
Rep. Hogue was confident that his bill would stand up to the likely constitutional challenges posed by classifying violence as obscene, given that the two modes of controversial expression have been traditionally been given different levels of First Amendment protection. Constitutional law experts
have already questioned the bill's legitimacy, and the ESA will almost certainly challenge the bill in court should it go into effect.