Videogames: Just Say No
Listen up, kiddies. You better buy your videogames soon. If state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla has his way, you'll need Mommy to purchase the next Grand Theft Auto.
That's because Diaz de la Portilla, a Miami Republican, submitted a bill to the Florida Senate October 25 that would prohibit minors from buying or renting videogames with violence and sexually explicit content.
Diaz de la Portilla, whose great-grandfather served as the Cuban minister of justice and whose family is among the area's most politically prominent, seems to have good reason: Videogames will melt your brain!
Says the Senate bill Diaz de la Portilla drafted: "Minors who are exposed to depictions of violence in videogames are most likely to experience feelings of aggression, to experience a reduction in activity in the frontal lobes of the brain, and to exhibit violent antisocial or aggressive behavior."
But what about Diaz de la Portilla's own frontal lobes? A federal appeals court in 2003 threw out a similar law passed in Saint Louis County, Missouri, ruling that restricting access to videogames violates the First Amendment.
Maybe, just maybe, Diaz de la Portilla has dabbled in the games himself. That might help explain some of his own past indiscretions. Among them:
Problem: From 1982 to 1994, Diaz de la Portilla received 23 traffic tickets and had his license suspended 16 times.
Explanation: Most of his license suspensions were due to missed court dates. Clearly that occurred because he was too engrossed in playing Pole Position, the 1982 racing game that close aides say the senator still enjoys.
Problem: In 1983, Diaz de la Portilla was charged with threatening his girlfriend.
Explanation: In the Eighties, the good senator was likely playing too many hours of Leisure Suit Larry, in which participants become the balding, sexually dissatisfied Larry Laffer as he navigates a misogynistic world of whores, thieves, and thugs.
Problem: In 1987, Diaz de la Portilla was charged with obstructing a police officer during a traffic stop.
Explanation: Also in 1987, the instant-classic videogame Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel was released. Perhaps the hours Diaz de la Portilla spent in the character of policeman Sonny Bonds altered his cerebral chemicals, making him believe that the cop he was obstructing was, in fact, his beloved partner.
For their part, the insidious videogame-makers are against Diaz de la Portilla's proposed law. "We all know that parents are not well served by the time and money spent on these quixotic battles," says Gail Markels, senior vice president and general counsel for the Entertainment Software Association, a videogame trade group.
Diaz de la Portilla did not return calls for comment. He was too busy playing Halo 2.
Get the Weekly Newsletter
Our weekly feature stories, movie reviews, calendar picks and more - minus the newsprint and sent directly to your inbox.