Wednesday, July 02, 2008

U.S.A. VS G.T.A.

Our big summer festival in Milwaukee, Summerfest, decided to ask the US Army to "tone down" their Virtual Army Experience by taking out scenes from the game portion of the presentation in which players ride on a Hum-V and shoot at enemy combatants. To see more information about the experience, click here. This game is available for purchase as well, and has been a big seller. It is rated "T" and as part of this experience people volunteer to play the game, which is enclosed in an area that isn't out in the open, so only those interested in the game can get to it. Still, a Summer festival that allows open containers of liquor and has a variety of heavy metal bands swearing day and night, is telling the Army that they can't have the full game play in their exhibit.

To make it even more interesting, in the arcade area, they have the Grand Theft Auto game, which is rated "M," available to be played. Now, I am not one of those people who criticize GTA. Heck, I've even played the game. But part of that game is to shoot people, including police officers, pick up hookers, and steal cars. This game was not shut down by Summerfest, nor was the arcade vendor asked to censor, id players for age verification, or remove the game from the arcade.

I find this quite upsetting that the marketing arm of a summer festival that would seem to support art and free speech telling the United States Army that they have to edit themselves while allowing things that are as much and more offensive to continue.

So somehow a portion of a Teen rated video game is more offensive than a Mature rated game. Somehow shooting enemy combatants within the context of war is more offensive than shooting cops. Quite the double standard we've set!

This isn't about weather or not you support George Bush or approve of the war.

It is about freedom. Freedom to decide for yourself if you want to play the Army game or not. Or GTA or not.

It is about equal representation - if you are going to censor, set standards and apply it to all. If you are going to allow freedom of expression then allow it for all.

To tell the United States Army to censor a presentation that no other city ANYWHERE, including Madison Wisconsin, has asked to have censored, on the weekend that we are preparing to celebrate the very freedom the Army obtained for us and continues to provide. Well, it's really pretty stupid.

I say GO ARMY!

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