The New Jersey city of Paterson, looking for a way to discourage violence among youth, has voted to ban the playing of direct-shooter video games, like Call of Duty, on the computers at its libraries. The vote comes during a time when video games are under intense scrutiny from politicians and the NRA, due to an increase in gun violence here in America. The recent tragedies in Aurora and Sandy Hook, in particular, have led many to rethink laws surrounding video game violence.
Normally, I disagree with stories like this, as I believe games are being used as nothing more than a scapegoat for the violence. However, in this case, I'm ok with forbidding violent games from being played in a library, or even other public learning facilities. I wouldn't expect direct-shooters to be allowed in schools either, so I see no problem with banning it from a library.
"We felt we should do everything we can to prevent our kids from learning these behaviors,'' said library board member Irene Sterling.
Library director Cindy Czesak echoed Sterling's sentiment, adding: "We feel a responsibility to the kids of the community."
Library officials have been discouraging youths from playing these type of games for quite a while now, but the vote gives them something more official to act on. PatersonPress.com reports that the city's libraries can't actually block the games from the computer because they're part of an electronic shared system with about 18 other libraries. However, library staff can now require anyone playing the games to stop.
The only material actually blocked from the city's library computers is child pornography. Although the computers allow visitors to access adult pornography, they are forbidden from watching sex films.
"Most library policies tend to be very libertarian,'' Sterling admitted. "The whole idea is for the free flow of information.''
Czesak maintains that library officials have tried to "balance their First Amendment responsibilities with their commitment to do what's best for Paterson children."
Do you think banning direct-shooters from libraries is a good idea?