Tax Violent Video Games? Vice President Joe Biden Sees A Strong Possibility

By Binu Paul , Updated May 14, 2013 08:53 AM EDT
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Joe Biden, Vice President of the U.S., says "there's no legal reason why" the government couldn't impose a violence tax on movies and video games.

Talking in a closed door gun legislation meeting with 20 religious representatives, Biden said that a proposed move by Reverend Franklin Graham to tax media companies, that broadcast violent images and produce violent video games, could be a smart move, Politico reports.

According to a participant in the meeting speaking to Politico, Biden said there is "no restriction on the ability to do that, there's no legal reason why they couldn't tax violent images." Graham, son of the evangelist Billy Graham and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, argued that media and entertainment that broadcast violence should be subject to a special tax and the funds raised through this tax should go to the victims of gun violence and their families. Whether this tax would apply to violent religious movies such as The Passion of the Christ and The History Channel's The Bible remains unclear.

Biden also told the religious leaders that he would want a comprehensive study of the impact that violent video games and movies has on developing brains. "He said they really need a good scientific study, which they've done on things like smoking," one of the sources said.

In a sarcastic editorial piece, conservative newspaper The Washington Post has taken the vice president for such a suggestion.  "Mr. Biden obviously doesn't like the First Amendment any better than the Second, and doesn't understand that the First Amendment doesn't guarantee responsible speech, it guarantees free speech. The Supreme Court has ruled that depictions of violence have First Amendment protection because such depictions are forms of speech. In 2011, the court applied this principle in striking down a California law to restrict the sale of violent video games. The court said in some detail how it makes no sense for government to attempt to draw a distinction between the images of violence in video games and the depiction of violence in violent classics such as Homer's "Odyssey" and William Golding's "Lord of the Flies," the report states.

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