On March 28, Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis signed HB 1557, commonly known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The legislation requires boards of school districts to prohibit classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in certain grade levels. It also authorizes parents to bring action against the school district to obtain declaratory judgment which will provide a financial award for injunctive relief, damages, and reasonable attorney fees and court costs. It’s going into effect on July 1 and a lot of controversy has developed from this bill.
We also seen a lot of book banning from schools, with censored topics ranging from the Holocaust with the graphic novel Maus being removed from a Tennessee’s school district eighth grade curriculum to Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and George Mathew Johnson’s All Boys Aren’t Blue. With more book challenges planned or books currently in the process of being banned, the learning that should be easily available is being targeted out of fear and control. I’m guessing a lot of the adults who are challenging these books in different states haven’t actually read the ones they want taken out.
A lot of questions have come into play on why these bans are happening. For a lot of children, they’re not looking to read these mature books and nonfiction works. Children who are trying to find themselves may not understand their sexual preference yet but would love to be informed about it. Even with gender identity. They are doing their best to grasp and comprehend it. When I was younger, I loved a lot of things that were female related: activities like Double Dutch, singing female R&B, and being influenced by women’s fashion to create my own style. In some way, In the eyes of some others, particularly straight males, that wasn’t the right way to grow up; but for me, I was comfortable and adaptive to it. It’s how I saw life and nothing wrong with it.
For me, I believe books help people explore issues they wrestle with. Similarly, video games help us explore and relate to characters who are dealing with the issues we’re encountering. Some Republicans who are executing these laws, such as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, are using these bills and arguments to appease their base of voters, which in turn, is guarantees election success. However, I wonder if people took the time to read the work they want to ban, maybe their fears and concerns would be at rest. Same thing with games; if those who want them ban took the time to play them, or even view streams of these games, perhaps they would learn that various M-Rated games are more than just violence, perhaps they can appreciate and learn about the ideals, stories, and creativity that went into these games.
All this to say that M-Rated games could possibly come into discussion. Now, they are protected under the first amendment, but that hasn’t stopped politicians from trying to prevent the sale of these types of games. Politicians often think such a ban would solve various problems like crime, mass shootings, rape, or sexual assault, but no studies on the effects of M-Rated games have shown any connection.
If other bills are being passed before the current ones are contested or argued before the Supreme Court, it’s possible someone will try to find a loophole to get M-Rated games banished from being sold in stores. I understand that children are required to go to school to learn whereas video games are a hobby or some form of leisure time for people. Yes, these are two separate issues, but with these politicians getting their way lately, some states may try to make the sale of M-rated games criminal. Even though retail stores have implemented a process to not sell M-Rated games to those under 17, politicians might use the issue just for re-election purposes to show their “work” for the people.
It’s something to think about and have some form of concern because M-Rated games aren’t just about guns and violence. There’s depth, storytelling, and creativity that goes into these types of games. To take these games away because of an assumption isn’t right and isn’t fair.
I hope these bills and bans get reversed, but when will that happen? I can’t say for sure. I just know that this time, people of different communities and backgrounds continue to be targeted and it’s going to take some fight to make things right.
How do you feel about things being banned? Do you think gaming would change in a major way if M-Rated games couldn’t be sold? Let us know in the comments or in our Discord.
Eddie V. is a co-founder of Boss Rush Network who writes, podcasts, and loves video game trivia. You can find him on Twitter with @thatretrocode.