Assemble: Stan Lee On Videogame Rights

By Kieron Gillen on September 21st, 2010 at 1:30 pm.

As the Supreme Court approaches the Schwarzenegger v. EMA/ Entertainment Software Association case which will rule whether the Californian law banning sale of certain games to under 18s is unconstitutional, the activist Video Game Voters Network have gained a public vote of confidence Stan Lee himself. I’m going to re-print the whole letter below, as it draws some astute lines between what happened to comics in the 50s and what’s happening now…

Dear Video Game Voters Network,

I’m writing to urge gamers everywhere to take a stand and defend both the First Amendment and the rights of computer and video game artists by joining the Video Game Voters Network (VGVN). My memory has always been lousy and it’s not improving with age. But it’s good enough to remember a time when the government was trying to do to comic books what some politicians now want to do with video games: censor them and prohibit their sales. It was a bad idea half a century ago and it’s just as bad an idea now. And you can do something about it.

I created Spider-Man, Iron Man and the Hulk, the virtual ancestors of the characters in today’s games. In the 1950s, there was a national hysteria about the so-called “dangerous effect” comic books were having on our nation’s youth.

Comic books, it was said, contributed to “juvenile delinquency.” A Senate subcommittee investigated and decided the U.S. could not “afford the calculated risk involved in feeding its children, through comic books, a concentrated diet of crime, horror and violence.” Comic books were burned. The State of Washington made it a crime to sell comic books without a license. And Los Angeles passed a law that said it was a crime to sell “crime comic books.” Looking back, the outcry was — forgive the expression — comical.

The more things change, as they say, the more they stay the same. Substitute video games for comic books and you’ve got a 21st century replay of the craziness of the 1950s. States have passed laws restricting the sale of video games and later this year, the Supreme Court will hear a case about one of those laws, this one passed in California. Why does this matter? Because if you restrict sales of video games, you’re chipping away at our First Amendment rights to free speech and opening the door to restrictions on books and movies.

The Supreme Court should find the law unconstitutional, as lower courts have. But politicians will keep looking for ways to restrict the rights of gamers and computer and video game artists because it makes for good headlines to say they’re “protecting the children,” even if they’re doing no such thing. They do so despite the fact that the industry has a remarkable rating system in place already and all new consoles have parental controls — both of which help parents ensure parents are in control of what their children play. But you can help fight the battle against politicians.

The VGVN was created so gamers can express their views and tell our political leaders that it’s as ridiculous to worry about video games today as it was to worry about comic books then. Far from being dangerous, video games are increasingly powerful contributors to our nation’s entertainment, economy, education, and society.

By joining the VGVN, you’ll be telling our political leaders that you care enough about the games you play to use your voice and your vote to help those who recognize the realities and benefits of gaming and punish those who try to restrict both your access to games and your rights. Please join and participate. It’ll be good for your constitution.

Thanks.

If you want more information on the Supreme Court situation, VGVN has a handy FAQ.

[Via BleedingCool.]

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91 Comments »

  1. Tei says:

    this is really a good call, if I ever seen one.

    USA also needs a mature segment that is not porn. It seems in usa things are either for childrens or porn. Maybe make a something betwen, so things can be for +18 years, but not get lost in the porn section of the shops.

    The game industry is also probably bigger than the comic one, if USA start attacking his own industry, there will be economical effects. Japan has lost a lot of positions on the game industry, and would love to get it back from USA.

    • Cooper says:

      That’s because the consumers of most mainstream entertainment in the US have the mental acuity of children, whatever their age.

    • perilisk says:

      The U.S. has an entire class of Nurse Ratcheds that get their rocks off by controlling everyone else (they’re the geniuses that invented Prohibition, for example). Making everything about “the children” just gives them both the moral excuse they need to get the power they crave, and clout with the more easily freaked out of the mommies.

    • Santiago says:

      (in reply to Tei´s first comment)

      Modern American Porn (or porn in general) is as mature as Michael Bay´s work.

  2. Web Cole says:

    Indeed. Games are just another medium on the long list of ‘moral panics’. Novels > Cinema > Comic Books > Rock Music > Television > Computer Games.

    I just hope those of us here can be as open minded and forward thinking as Mr Lee when we get to his age, about whatever morale panic is doing the rounds then. As I have no doubt there will be something to get worked up about that our children will need ‘saving’ from.

    • SF Legend says:

      And of course going back even further, you get the theatre.

    • ZamFear says:

      Don’t forget the waltz.

      The indecent foreign dance called the Waltz was introduced … at the English Court on Friday last … It is quite sufficient to cast one’s eyes on the voluptuous intertwining of the limbs, and close compressure of the bodies … to see that it is far indeed removed from the modest reserve which has hitherto been considered distinctive of English females. So long as this obscene display was confined to prostitutes and adulteresses, we did not think it deserving of notice; but now that it is … forced on the respectable classes of society by the evil example of their superiors, we feel it a duty to warn every parent against exposing his daughter to so fatal a contagion.

    • jackshandy says:

      If we ever get an R18 rating down here, I vow to do a waltz. Vertical expression of a horizontal desire, anyone?

    • BAReFOOt says:

      And remember that before theatre, is was science. Or “witchcraft” as it was called then.

      The biggest joke, is that gaming is the only form of entertainment, that is both active and intellectual. Sports is active, but more for the body than the mind. And TV & co are for the mind, but passive. Games are the only form of entertainment, where you have to think for yourself. And it’s the natural form of education.

      A conspiracy theorist would say, that that’s the reason they dislike it. And given how much politicians like to have people in control, I have trouble countering that argument.

    • jackshandy says:

      Would you consider Debating entertainment, barefoot? Or would that be more of a …sport?

  3. Choca says:

    Stan Lee is pretty awesome, isn’t he ?

    • Atrocious says:

      Yep, if only more old men had his judiciousness.

    • BAReFOOt says:

      Beware what you’re asking for. Because if you crank that knob way up, you get the (stereo)typical angry old man, who wants to chase the kids off his lawn. Maybe most of them are like Stan Lee, just way too much. ;)) (And I don’t say, they are maybe right too. They usually got lots of life experience, which I don’t have.)

  4. Cat says:

    Wow, even more reason to love Stan Lee :) As if creating the worlds best comics wasnt enough!

  5. coldwave says:

    I know this guy, he appears in Heroman once in a while.

  6. StingingVelvet says:

    The last time I had this debate with UKers on the PC Gamer forums it was really evident to me that a lot of you guys, not to generalize, do not get the problem with America’s resistance to any government control or supervision of media.

    I think the key concept to understand is that with the way laws work over here it’s much less about people under 18 having access to games than it is about this law setting a precedent for government action over meda.

    • BigJonno says:

      That’s an interesting perspective, thanks. From the UK point of view, we tend to look at our legally-enforceable age ratings and our big piles of violent games and wonder what all the fuss is about.

      That said, there are definitely problems with the current US system which lead to a degree of corporate censorship. With the likes of Walmart refusing to stock games which get the highest rating, there are a lot of stories of developers self-censoring in order to get their games into as many stores as possible. In the UK, there is no stigma attached to an ’18′ rating as explicit porn has its own, entirely separate rating. Of course movies have legally-enforceable ratings here too, so there is no bad feeling about games being singled out, which I agree is a legitimate concern with the current situation in the US.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      Yeah, if this goes through (which it won’t) then Wal-Mart and other stores would likely not sell any games that required legal procedures, which would make publishers shoot for teen ratings all the time and effect the industry world wide. I think that’s another thing people from other countries misunderstand about this law.

      It’s really the precendent thing that scares me though. The way the Supreme Court has always worked is that a relatively trivial matter is brought before them and their decision changes law and court proceedings for decades because of it. If they decide that violent video games can be regulated by the government it could clear the way for all kinds of laws that have nothing to do with that which regulate games in other ways, or regulate other media types.

    • deejayem says:

      Incidentally, apropos of not very much, corporate censorship operates even without ratings systems – I work for a Major Intergalactic Book Publisher, and the first question we ask ourselves about any US book cover is not “will people buy it?” but “will Wal-Mart stock it?”

    • battles_atlas says:

      Which just goes to show quite how moronic the US anti-government theme is. Opposing the monopolisation of power by a government is fine, if you are similarly vigilant about of corporate power, but there seems no recognition of this in US political discourse. When the President works at Walmat HQ rather than Washington, maybe the populace will wake up some.

      It almost as if everyone gets their opinions from news organisations that are themselves corporate behemoths.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Almost as if?

      Sir, they do. That’s why Fox News is number one in ratings.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      Well, if you want to stop a corporation just band together and stop supporting it. I guess you could say “if you want to stop a government stop voting for it” but at the end of the day the government forcibly impacts everyone under it, where as Wal-Mart only impacts the people who choose to shop there.

      One of the most basic functions of the court system in the US is to basically protect people from themselves. Polls, forums and history show that most people would give away freedom, rights and individuality for a little piece of convienence or safety. The courts are there to make sure that doesn’t happen.

    • Bill says:

      Indeed, it’s sad that here in the uk, where a lot of those sentiments were first articulated, that almost no one has stood up for the rights of the individual to say things that the government had deemed “unacceptable”

      Unfortunately the view of “UKers” you get from the internet will be youngish people who’ve been through the very poor, heavily politicised, state education system, and aren’t likely to have come across much Mill or Burke, or even to know that we have a constitution, a common law, and a Bill of Rights on which yours are based. Children here are more likely to learn about nice European laws like the Human Rights Act than boring old English things like Habeas Corpus, which our continental friends managed to abolish without the slightest protest from anyone.

    • Premium User Badge Harlander says:

      boring old English things like Habeas Corpus, which our continental friends managed to abolish without the slightest protest from anyone.

      Are you referring to something specific there?

    • Tacroy says:

      America is really messed up because it’s full of people going “less government! Less government!” and then not realizing that in the power vacuum created by that less government, the corporations are stepping in and taking over.

      It’s weird. We’re totally okay with authoritarian, Puritan dictators as long as they are a privately owned business, even if they can effectively censor the market far more efficiently than the government (see, for instance, Wal-Mart). We’re so unreasonably scared of our government that we’re giving corporations free regin.

      But back on topic, Stan Lee is freaking awesome.

  7. Rinox says:

    Excelsior!

  8. karry says:

    “In the 1950s, there was a national hysteria about the so-called “dangerous effect” comic books were having on our nation’s youth.”

    Well let’s see…since the 50s US had at least one new war every 5 years, and today every mentally challenged person can have a number of legally bought guns at his home, and the number of public shootings is growing every year…hmmm, i wonder if there is a connection to the comic books that taught US kids that you can solve every problem through violence…

    • poop says:

      ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

    • LintMan says:

      @Karry: Not quite… From wikipedia:
      “In 2004 America’s crime rate was roughly the same as in 1970, with the homicide rate being at its lowest level since 1965. Overall, the national crime rate was 4982 crimes per 100,000 residents, down from 4852 crimes per 100,000 residents thirty years earlier in 1974 (-17.6%).”

    • StingingVelvet says:

      There you go posting facts Lintman, what fun is that?

    • Uhm says:

      “…every mentally challenged person can have a number of legally bought guns at his home, and the number of public shootings is growing every year…”

      So it must be comics.

    • Fumarole says:

      Speaking of mentally challenged…

    • Nick says:

      Great, now do one about Rock’nRoll.

  9. SheffieldSteel says:

    I’m in two minds about this.

    On the one hand, it seems to make sense for there to be a category of violent game that is treated similarly to porn. I don’t think that porn ought to be singled out from every other form of media, and for the US to do so is surely a symptom of deep issues in its national psyche.

    “Explicit sex = bad, explicit violence… okay.” Does that sound reasonable to you?

    On the other hand, Americans are very sensitive about freedom of speech, and are far more likely to fight to maintain this state of affairs, because the alternative is more government control over the media. I wouldn’t be surprised to see many nominally family-friendly, conservative religious groups campaigning against this law, if only as a way to fight the power. The president is taking away our rights, don’tchaknow?

    • StingingVelvet says:

      Point one: in order to have government regulation over media in the US you have to prove it is dangerous to the country. A long time ago in a different era people decided that porn was dangerous as it lowered sexual morals, creating disease and unplanned pregnancies. Whether that would still be true today I don’t know, but the alternative would be no legal controls over porn, so no one is likely to bring it up. It’s not like any mainstream store would start stocking porn though even if they did stop regulating it.

      Point two: Republicans are a funny thing because they have two core principles which often contradict each other: small government and religion-based morality quests. As a small government Conservative I still stay away from the Republican party because of the religous and moral crazies it has. Liberals can do the same stuff though, it was Tipper Gore, Hillary Clinton and Joe Lieberman who campaigned against violent music, movies and games and in the 90s.

  10. deejayem says:

    I’m going to reveal my ignorance here, but is the law in question about banning sale of violent games, or about banning sale of violent games to children?

    I think there’s an important distinction between the two – I’m absolutely against the former, but to be honest think the latter sounds like quite a good idea. It makes sense to stop kids (ie, people whom the state judges too young to decide for themselves) from accessing material that can damage them, whether it’s cigarettes, alcohol or disturbing images. I don’t see that games are any different from films in that regard.

    Stopping children buying violent games isn’t censorship any more than stopping children buying alchohol equals prohibition. (I think I just lost myself in my own double negatives, but you see what I mean.)

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      The law in question bans the sale of violent video games to children. As most major retailers already have a policy in place of checking IDs(I look nowhere near 16, yet am asked to see my ID for rated-M games, while I’m not asked for cigarettes or booze), this is one of those ‘slippery-slope’ things in regards to our 1st amendment. Part political grandstanding, part revenue grab(In Dallas, the police department is the largest buyer of porn, they buy everything, screen it, then arrest clerks for the ‘objectionable’ stuff. The clerks are bonded out in about 45 minutes, the owners pay the ~1500USD fine per count, the clerk is told to just not get arrested for anything for 6 months and it will ‘go away’ from their record. Just another cost of doing business).

    • StingingVelvet says:

      The problem is alcohol isn’t speech and we have very strong speech rights. In order to regulate violent games they would basically have to be deemed not under the protection of the 1st ammendment, which would be a travesty and would effect gaming world wide.

      We have volunteer age requirements set up by the video game industry, just like we do for movies. That works, and puts the power in the parent’s hands, not the governments.

    • deejayem says:

      Interesting stuff. I’d agree totally about the right of parents to let their kids watch/play whatever they deem appropriate – the point of a law like this should surely be to prosecute store owners for selling games to young kids, not parents for buying games to give to their children. If anything, this increases parental control over a child’s viewing/playing, because it stops kids going out and buying “Intestine Extractor III: Spleengasm” without Mum and Dad knowing.

      I’m not sure that I buy the argument that regulating sale of a product to minors necessarily opens it up to government control, or even constitutes censorship. That certainly hasn’t been the case in the UK, although I know we have a very different legal structure.

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      We agree to disagree, then. Perhaps this is a manifestation of American libertarianism/foundation mythology, but we are inculcated from a very young age that our constitution is sacrosanct. Our military swears an oath to defend and uphold it, so does our president. Any attempt at restriction, perceived or actual, raise the hackles across the political spectrum. it is one of the few things that does.

    • deejayem says:

      Devotion to a founding constitution based on protecting the rights of the individual is one of the many things I love about America, even if I don’t always agree with the way it’s interpreted. (And it’s always nice to meet people willing to discuss it!)

      What interests me – about any constitution, not just the US one – is the points where founding principles collide. For example, if you’re going as a state to protect children from parental abuse, you have to have some line to draw where parenting decisions become abusive: I might decide that a sustained diet of Saw films and crack cocaine will help my toddler grow up into a well-adjusted adult, and if I do the state needs a mechanism to label me as an abusive parent and ensure I stop, or that my child is taken away.

      This is getting a bit off-topic, I realise, so I will shut up now.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      Well with the current system there is nothing stopping parents from policing their kids other than their own incompetence or ambivalence. Every game has a rating, every parent can look through their kid’s games and monirot their gameplay time. The problems arise with parents who refuse to tell their kids no or who sit their kids in front of a TV so they don’t have to deal with them. Neither of those issues are going to be solved by having the government enforce the ratings or making their own… parents who don’t care will still let their children have those games.

      The only possible scenario this would improve on is stores selling games to minors when they are not supposed to, but honestly Gamestop, Wal-Mart and other stores take this shit so seriously now I really don’t think that’s an issue, and studies agree with me. I’m 30 years old and I get carded for movies and games at stores all the time, it’s sort of ridiculous.

    • TeeJay says:

      @ Ignorant Texan

      Ironically it is almost like a religious belief (a “state religion”?) to think that the “constitution is sacrosanct”. It was written by a bunch of men way back when so why should it carry any more moral weight than laws written today by people elected by a far wider constituency and under a more democratic system?

      It is also unbelievable to think that the US has unlimited rights to freedom of speech when in fact the law as it is implemented has all sorts of exemptions, get-out clauses and provisions which do actually limit freedoms – just like most other democratic countries and usually for very plausible and good reasons. The US is not really that different from many other countries, even if it it passionately like to think it is.

      Like most (all?) countries there are all sorts of legal age restrictions in the US (for example the right to vote) – so there isn’t actually a very clear dividing line about what children/young people of various ages can and can’t be prevented from doing by the government, is there?

      Moreover theoretical “constitutional freedoms” are a bit of a mockery if there is a de facto agreement amongst the vast majority of movie studios, news networks, retailing outlets and so forth to control what is and isn’t available to 99.9% of the reading/viewing/playing public – “freedom to choose” something requires that that things exists to be chosen in the first place.

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      TeeJay -

      I didn’t say I believe our constitution is sacrosanct, I said that I was raised to believe it. The respect I have for the very human ‘Founding Fathers’ is that they had the foresight to make the US Constitution an amendable document. That says to me, at least, that they were very aware that times change, and so do ideas and beliefs.(Thomas Jefferson was opposed to capital punishment, but said something to the effect that he held no hope for its abolition when the majority of his countrymen were in favor of hanging horse-thieves.) Nor do I believe in the pernicious nonsense of American exceptionalism, as I feel the citizens of this country need to accept we live in the world, not apart from it. I am not one of those who believe government is inherently evil; I think this country would be in much worse shape if it didn’t act as a brake on the excesses of individuals/groups seeking their own self-interest at the expense of all others. A man’s right to make money ends at poisoning my and my countrymen’s air/water/food.

  11. faem,pr says:

    1. some people need to lose their illusions about their perceived “fundamental” rights
    2. please more regulations about general use of violence in the media (thinking about TV and movies. Video gaming is a least offender but affected still).
    3. last time I checked, punching someone to bits is literally more degrading than sex, so lose that idiotic taboo about human contact
    4. 18+ regulations are stupid, teens forge themselves earlier. Bring down the full nudity, sex and violence restrictions to at most 16+
    5. enforce regulations strongly by punishing (fining) the parents. Parents who don’t do their jobs deserve the worst they can get

    • faem,pr says:

      Of course, any regulation is “interdiction to sell X to children under the age of Y / interdiction to broadcast X during some of the hours when children are most likely to see it”.
      If I want to buy a 18+ game and give it to my 15yo son in front of the shopkeeper, it’s my right as an educated parent

    • BigJonno says:

      What exactly would you be fining parents for if you’re saying it’s okay for them to give rated media to their children? Are you saying that if a fifteen year old tries to buy a 16 rated game then the parents should receive a fine?

    • faem,pr says:

      Yeah sorry, I said things before thinking. The “fining parents” remark is a more broad swipe against bad parenting and not applicable to this case

    • StingingVelvet says:

      The problem with your number 5 is that parents should be the ultimate authority in how to raise their children, not the government. That’s a very strong feeling people have over here, and probably everywhere I would think.

      As for controls over media, just choose what you want to watch, or what you want to let your kids watch, and leave other people alone. Frankly I don’t understand why anyone thinks they should control the media I can see or my kids can see other than me, unless it is proven to be harmful which video games are not and likely will never be. Since the surge in violent media crime rates in the US have gone DOWN, not up, and can anyone deny we are a more peaceful world than we were during the crusades? During the world wars? Technology and media has made us less violent, not more.

      That’s my feelings on it.

    • Mattressi says:

      Why do they need to lose the concept of fundamental rights? The US was born because of a conflict with Britain about their perceived fundamental rights. The US won and began to thrive. Britain continued to remain a horrible nanny state and even increased in the number of nanny state regulations it made. I’m a Australian btw (another bloody nanny state), so don’t think I’m backing the US because I live there. I back them because they are free, while other people have to make comments like “well our ratings are government controlled, but it’s ok”. Great, so currently your government is not controlling you to a degree that you find unacceptable?

      Why is the concept of fundamental rights bad? Does freedom, somehow, hurt you?

    • Xercies says:

      Just look at MPAA to see the problems maybe with giving some people the rights to basically control the whole entire film industry. I have to say The BBFC even though government run is probably one of the best if ot the best of giving ratings to films, they usually produce a whole report on it and you sit and read it and you go ok thats resonable. While the MPAA is always think of the children and will put even a bit of breast(excagerating a bit) to an NC17 which means you cannot distribute your movie to thatears while giving any bloody action movie a clean R.

      Just my opinion, I sometimes agree with Americas culture with stopping government control because in the likehood of a dictatorship they have the piece of paer saying they can take down the government however they want(a bit of an extreme example there but you can apply it to non extreme examples) I just think that sometiemes government control does have the right idea…NHS and BBFC is one of them.

    • deejayem says:

      (Pedant mode) Strictly speaking, the BBFC isn’t goverment run – it’s self-funding, and its policies and president are elected by a Council of Management made up of industry gurus. It’s a rare example of industry self-regulation that works.

      Its decisions are legally enforced, though.

    • TeeJay says:

      @ Mattressi

      The US split away because it was wealthy and wanted to write it’s own laws. All the baloney about “fundamental rights” was the current philosophical fashion of 1770s era. If these ideas were really genuine and heart-felt then why did it take another 100 years and a civil war to abolish slavery? The bottom line was (and still is) money and power.

      “Fundamental rights” are all well and good, but political / moral / social thinking has moved on over 250 years. I don’t think it is very controversial to say that a more rounded and contemporary (and less rabble-rousing revolutionary) view is that people’s freedoms often run up against the need of other people for protection and that zero restrictions on the individual can lead to siginificant social ‘harms’. “Fundamental rights” or other ‘absolutes’ are not a very useful starting point when trying to work out where the “sweet spot” lies, for example in setting speed limits, deciding what age people can vote, drive … or play extremely violent videogames.

      Additionally I’d argue that in a democracy it should be up to the people – via their elected representatives – to decide on the law of the land. It should not be locked away in a historical document which can only be poured over by a tiny elite of non-elected judges as if they are reading the entrails of some holy sacraficial cow.

      As for the UK “remaining” a nanny state – things like the NHS and welfare have only appeared since the 1940s, and it has about the same amount of regulation as most other democracy countries. You seem to be nonsensically mashing togeher vast stretches of history.

      You say you “back them because they are free” – the reality is that there isn’t that muich difference in what people can do in the US, UK and Australia – some minor variations in what you can drink, smoke, watch on TV etc and at what age – but virtually no difference compared with – at one extreme somewhere with no controls, law enforcement or functioning government (also centres of trafficking/sex abuse/violence) or places with tight restrictions and censorship.

    • Wulf says:

      @Mattressi

      Yes, but freedom is a double-bladed sword. You are free, hooray!

      How free are you? Free enough to stab someone in the back?

      For some, that’s an outright no, for others it comes down to maybe, how much money you got?

      The problem with too much freedom is that it’s as bad as too little freedom, it’s the opposite of the crazy AI in I, Robot, too little freedom results in restricting people to the point of making them miserable, too much freedom means that people can become corrupt and powerful, enough to make other people miserable.

      The best option, is, of course, always found somewhere in the middle. You are free enough to follow your dreams, but not free enough to stab someone in the back, metaphorically or actually, regardless of how much money you have. This comes down to a simple matter of ethics. Some governments realise that the vast majority of humanity is a vile, corrupt creature that would rampage, kill, steal, and rape given the chance. Our own history shows us as much.

      Am I afraid of freedom? Nope. Am I afraid of having the freedom to stab someone in the back and face little to no repercussions for that act? Absolutely.

      You just have to be able to decide when too much freedom is too much, or when too little is too little. I can’t really answer that question for you, nor can I say which side of things America falls upon, but I was just answering your question of whether i was afraid of freedom or not. And my answer is that all things are best taken in moderation, including freedom.

    • Mattressi says:

      Wulf, the problem I see with your view is that you seem to equate freedom with anarchy. Fundamental rights include the right to life. If someone takes one of your rights, they must be punished. That is what governments should be for. They ensure that no ones rights are taken from them. How is stopping kids from playing violent games going to protect someone’s rights? What is it possibly doing for anyone?

      TeeJay, that’s an interesting take on a well recorded history. Yes, the US was becoming wealthy, but their wealth isn’t what caused them to break away. It was a combination of things, one of which was that they were being taxed through the roof. SO, yes, money had a little to do with it. But what actually started the revolution was when some English soldiers tried to disarm a group of people, not because someone tried to tax a filthy rich American.
      Also, why do you put speeding in with stopping children from playing violent games? Speeding is not a fundamental right (as I’ve said before, fundamental rights on’t mean “I can do whatever I want”, they mean “I can do whatever I want, so long as it doesn’t infringe on someone else’s rights”. Speeding is like firing a gun down a street. Sure, the bullet might miss someone, but it could very well hit someone. Therefore, speeding would be controlled.
      As for your comment about slavery, that was very unfortunate. At the time it was believed that slaves were essentially sub-human and therefore did not have fundamental rights. The “science” of the time backed this up as well. This is an unfortunate blot on US history.

    • TeeJay says:

      Sorry but it’s one of those ‘foundation myths’ that the colonists were being “taxed through the roof”. The claim fits in convenienty with a certain ideological viewpoint and gives a “justification” but it isn’t actually based on facts. The objections were about the political principles (ie democracy/rights) not about high tax levels. This is a modern hijacking and rewriting of history to fit a contemporary agenda.

      Here’s some economic historians having a bash at laying it out:

      The Economics of the American Revolutionary War
      http://eh.net/encyclopedia/article/baack.war.revolutionary.us

      *All* the other sources I have just checked back this up.

  12. Hélder Pinto says:

    I would love to have Stan Lee as my father when I was a kid

  13. Cooper says:

    I’ve never understood the US stance that heavily controls anything sexual, and is liberal about almost anything depicting violence. It’s an odd form of puritanism.

    Blase and naive attitudes to violence, weapons, armed conflict and death (which aren’t cuased by mainstream media, but are arguably perpetuated by their takes on it) are so much more of a problem than, you know, that most natural thing int he world for people to do…

    • Esc7 says:

      I would say it is because America has a large population (relatively compared to other developed countries) of fundamentalist religious members. All mostly Christian. I don’t know what it is, but the wide middle of our country is a ripe breeding ground for sects of Christianity that reject any sort of reasonableness it may have had throughout history and replaced it with a fatalist “chosen people” mentality and persecution complex. (Many sects WERE persecuted, like mormons, but then they are batshit crazy) Mormonism, in my opinion, controls its members just like Scientology: via a strict arbitrary rule system and shame and repression. The number one easiest thing to shame people with here in America is sex. Americans are absolutely against the idea of anyone under the age of 18 having sex whilst we absolutely can not get enough of slutty 16 year old singers singing the barest metaphorical allusion about having sex. (Whilst gyrating!) Our national psyche holds this contradiction very well. In fact if you think about it the repression is self feeding. Being outraged about anything sexual further makes it more and more taboo thus making it more and more attractive.

      Anyways…erm…yes. That was a bit of a rant. We have problems. I would say this religious craziness is actually on the long slow decline as civilized cities basically outweigh the sparsely populated areas, but they definitely feel their slow obsolescence and are currently shouting very very loud in our national political sector. Who knows what the future will hold?

    • Fabian! says:

      Wow, Esc7. That was… really well said. Pretty much my interpretation on the matter, only formulated smarter and more elegantly. :)

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      Esc7 covers the sex thing well.

      As to violence, while I don’t view America as being that different than other nations/peoples, our military expansion at the expense of others(Amer-Indians, before 1900, from 1900 on, our foreign-policy adventures) is relatively recent, historically. To question violence is to question the morality of said things. Cognitive dissonance in action.

    • Fabian! says:

      I’ve heard the term “Repression to the point of obsession” being used in this regard.

    • Fumarole says:

      According to Wikipedia, 81% of the US population live in cities or suburbs.

    • DarkFenix says:

      Fundamental religion is by no means the only problem in the US. Many Americans seem to have essentially turned patriotism into a kind of fanatical quasi-religion, treating their constitution with the same blinkered worship that fundamentalists the world over treat their respective holy books.

      You see the vocal ones on the internet all too regularly, they’re the ones who love (to an obsession) the words “freedom” and “liberty” and never miss a chance to bombard you with a disturbing mix of ignorant bigotry and rehashed sensationalist right wing propaganda. They’ll talk with genuine pride over how they’ve brought “freedom” and “liberty” to the Middle East and continue enthusiastically on to a list of other “uncivilized” countries they should invade next. It’s frankly even more disturbing to listen to than the videos we see periodically from some cave in Afghanistan or Pakistan condemning the western infidels.

    • SheffieldSteel says:

      @DarkFenix: It’s interesting to compare & contrast the attitudes towards government that are common in the EU vs the US. The US people traditionally do not trust government not to do harm, and therefore use the constitution to limits its power to regulate things. In Europe, particularly in countries with social democratic politics (and I recommend avoiding the term ‘liberal’ when discussing politics with Americans) there is not only a trust, but an expectation, that government will use legislation as a means of doing good, usually through codifying what is commonly agreed to be social progress.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      We’re only roughly 63% Christian. Though that number isn’t clarified if “believes in the Christian god because they haven’t given it much thought” or “goes to church every sunday”.

  14. Lobotomist says:

    Stan the man !

  15. My opinion is terrible and I'm sorry says:

    Boy oh boy, that America, huh? With all their guns and fatness and violence and religion and dumbness and not being us. When will they learn.

    (on topic Stan Lee is excellent)

    • My opinion is terrible and I'm sorry says:

      What is not excellent is this reply system!
      My above post was addressed to karry a way back, it makes no sense down here.

  16. Mad Hamish says:

    Anyone else read that in their head entirely in Stan Lee’s voice?

  17. Fred Wester says:

    Rights.

  18. Rii says:

    @StingingVelvet

    “The problem with your number 5 is that parents should be the ultimate authority in how to raise their children, not the government. That’s a very strong feeling people have over here, and probably everywhere I would think.”

    I disagree entirely: children are not the property of their parents. The oversight necessary to ensure that the child survives until he is able to take his place a full member of society with all the rights and responsibilities appurtenant thereto falls largely upon the parents as a matter of pragmatism, but ultimately the responsibility is shared equally by all.

    Re: America vs. ‘the rest of the west’: Americans are ideologues, in contrast to pragmatists. For Americans, the question isn’t ‘does this make sense?’ or ‘does this lead to a better world?’ but rather ‘does this contravene (what may as well be) the Word of God?’ In this case, the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Capitalism is a reasonably uncontroversial illustration of the divide: for most nations, capitalism and the free market are means to end: it’s used because it works. To the extent that it doesn’t work, it gets discarded. See: UHC. In America, capitalism is an end unto itself.

    • SheffieldSteel says:

      In many ways this is the tragedy of American history. The people just don’t question things, and this leads to frankly bizarre situations such as this “violence is more acceptable than sex” viewpoint – or the belief that capitalism somehow equates to democracy (one word counterargument: lobbyists).

    • StingingVelvet says:

      I think you’ll find that a huge number of Americans, perhaps a large majority, would disagree on a fundemental level with the idea that “it takes a village” to raise a child, as Hillary Clinton once wrote. We tend to ignore the way societies create interdependencies in order to focus on individual freedom and achievement.

      This is dwindling as we become more interconnected, or more aware of how interconnected we are you could say. It has not yet dwindled to the point where people are willing to sit down and talk about altering out fundemental ideas yet though. I doubt it will in my lifetime.

    • Rii says:

      @StingingVelvet

      I didn’t mean to emphasise the role of society, I mean to emphasise the primacy of the child. He belongs to no-one but himself, those supporting him are merely caretakers. The de-emphasis of the role of the parent (relative to the standard ‘the parent is the centre of the universe’ model) is merely an extension of that.

      I can’t be the only one who objects to the notion that they were ever the property of their parents? I certainly wouldn’t regard any child of mine as ‘mine’ in any fundamental sense either.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      Well that’s an interesting thought… not sure how much I agree though given that I feel children lack discpline already, so a shift to considering them even more autonomous would be sort of risky.

  19. theblazeuk says:

    What, in the land of the free?

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      And…the…hooooome…of…the…braaaaave!

      Oh, Anacreon, on up in heaven, what have thou wrought?

  20. Mudpig says:

    Guys come to Germany, here we got bullshit like the protection of the youth anchored in our very constitution…reading the “Grundgesetz” you might notice the protection of youth can be instumentalized against the freedom of speech, free press, even to effectively ban books, TV broadcast, film and almost any media you might imagine…not that it is only possible they actually do use it to censor media under the shroud of protecting those poor children. 1984 is here, right down in Germany…

    • Josh W says:

      Ouch, but can you defeat it somehow by saying this repression damages your human dignity? I heard your constitution puts that above everything else.

    • Mudpig says:

      @Josh W

      There is certain movement agains further bans and the laws justifing them , but the situation here clearly shows how hard it is to get rid of such measures if they are allready installed and established. So anyone who has the chance to hinder such efforts should do so before a law that puts freedom away from you is established. And any kind of ban is a piece of freedom.

  21. Davie says:

    Good old Stan Lee.
    I wonder what the big moral panic will be fifty years from now?

  22. Kevbo says:

    I can only hope that this doesn’t go the wrong way… I admit that I am apart of the problem since I just stopped giving a dam about my country, its government and the stupid corporations that control it. It stressed me out too much and sorry but my life is far too short to worry about that crap. It sucks since I know I’m not helping the situation but I just want to live my little life and be happy. I know I’m not helping future generations but I have a strange feeling there will be much worse things to worry about in the future like water wars and global food shortages thanks to over population and other problems…. sigh (sorry for the rant, just got back from two 13 hour days back to back of work…. man I hate society sometimes)

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      It will go the wrong way when people go to apathy. Learning the facts is the one thing people seem to hate doing the most, even if they want to make a difference, because they won’t know why. Stan Lee’s point was to the people like you. You have a chance to be a part of a solution now. No one is asking you to be the next Martin Luther King and organize a social revolution that greases the rusty wheels of politics so something is done for the better.

  23. Dhatz says:

    people always want control and having those impotent ignorants ban what they can seems to be, sadly, the only way they can learn it’s BS. betcha this all happens again when legalization of all drugs happens in US (if humanity doesn’t die out first).

  24. Magiced says:

    I’m deeply disappointed that one of the tags on this article wasn’t EXCELSIOR!

  25. Deus says:

    Cooper, that’s just asking for a flame war and is childish in it’s own right. I think one of the major issues that society (American for the most part) has change the role of what a child is. Not 70 years ago a child was to be seen but not heard and now nothing is more important than sheilding children from whatever reality offends any group of people. “Comic’s rot your brain” was a phrase common around my household, though reading any tripe was acceptible. With any new form of story telling art and it’s emergence into the main-stream there will be resistance and people will villify it at any turn.

  26. JD says:

    Good luck with this, in the name of free will, and by the goal to keep “morale police” out of the arts and media, I hope something can still be done.
    Cartoons, comics, manga and anime should not be restrained even further, there is already age restriction and the governments should focus on making that work instead of becoming dictatorships.
    What laws exist in the USA sadly influence the whole world so let justice prevail!

    Greetings from Hungary