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Guv vetoes video-game bill

He believes measure has First Amendment issues

Published: Thursday, March 26 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

Rather, noted Morley, the measure said that if a video seller advertised that it did not sell M-rated games to teenagers or younger children, and then did indeed sell those games to underage customers, then the seller's liability could be increased if an angry parent or some other adult chose to sue. There were no criminal penalties in the bill, "and no video-game stores would be raided," Morley said.

On Wednesday, a group of writers, educators, movie-makers, actors and others, called the National Coalition Against Censorship, asked Huntsman to veto the bill and urged their membership to contact his office. The group's board includes well-known writer Judy Blum, and the association is made up of the Actor's Equity, the Newspaper Guild, an association of college professors, the Directors Guild of America, librarians, and others.

The coalition's executive director, Joan Bertin, said in a news release: "In our view, the bill takes a voluntary effort by manufacturers to provide consumers with information and turns it into a mechanism to deprive minors of their First Amendment rights."

She pointed out that the targeted materials can legally be sold to minors.

Clark, Garn and Morley said there are no freedom-of-speech issues with the bill.

Garn said HB353 "was a fine example of a bill that sends a message to the sellers of these games of violence and nudity — don't sell to minors, especially if you've advertised that you wouldn't."

Said Clark: "There is a big difference between freedom of speech and just telling the truth. This asks retailers to tell the truth — if you say you're not selling these games to minors, don't."

E-MAIL: bbjr@desnews.com

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