So this is a knee-jerk response post to the R18+ discussions at today's meeting of the Standing Committee of Attorneys General in Australia. While the reporting on this issue is likely to be all over the usual outlets (GameSpot.com.au, Kotaku.com.au, ABC's Tech site and it seems likely the Laura Parker will be featured on the major TV news broadcasts tonight), its also a little confusing. From what I can tell, despite the reports of NSW AG John Rau opposing the rating earlier in the week, he doesn't actually oppose it. Further, ABC's story calls this a delay, when in fact this meeting signposts the most progress since, well, ever on this issue.
So all around this is good news, though apparently South Australia consider a ten year old and 17 year old to be the same thing, such that any game rated MA15+ will be rebadged with the R18+ stickers before being sold. Bizarre. As someone deep in my Twitter feed said, this only deepens the gulf between ultra-childish and ultra-adults only. Its a deep conception of games, that they are either entirely juvenile, or entirely pornographic with no middle ground whatsoever.
Still, the most disturbing thing I heard flew a little below the radar, regarding a proposal by Rau to make Facebook an 18+ website... somehow. Of course he didn't go into details, but rather gave anecdotal evidence of a mother who was concerned about the slutty pictures her 13 year old daughter was posting on the site. Having discovered them, the mother found that she could not force Facebook to take them down. So this is why Australia should prevent all children in the country from using the single most widely accessed website in the history of the internet, because one woman is a terrible mother. Not only can she not keep enough of an eye on her own offspring to stop her from taking, then posting the pictures, but she is unable to sit down with her, explain the situation, and have the daughter take the pictures down herself? I'm sorry but I call bullshit.
This is obvious avoidance of parental responsibility. Out of the hundreds of millions of users of Facebook, some percentage are going to get themselves into trouble. That can't mean a government needs try to legislate this fact into non-existence. Rau trotted out the same old "Parents can't be around their kids 24/7 to watch what they do. Gee whiz kids these days are so clever," argument that is so prevalent in these kinds of discussions. But this is not a new thing. Parents have never been able to do this, why are we suddenly making laws about it in the case of new-ish media? I mean, any parent who doesn't realise their kids are a little different at school or in that God-forsaken space between school and home is delusional. Of course the difference in some kids is greater than in others, but there aren't any laws against this. Where and when did today's adults learn to swear or talk about sex and drugs and whatever else? Around the kitchen table? I think not.
At one point, I heard the phrase "Managing the flow of information through the internet." They still don't get it. They don't get the internet and they don't get liberal democracy.
In response to this week's US Supreme Court ruling in the Brown (Schwarzeneggar) vs. Entertainment Merchants Association case, I've written another editorial for Kotaku AU. As an American living here in Australia, I'm feel I'm in a fairly unique position to use this case as a backdrop for our own discussion of content regulation. There will probably be more discussion of this here in the near future, as a lot of the commentary following my article seems to genuinely miss my point, or rather the point of the discussion.