Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Skeletor makes bad game, liberals do something stupid

Tim LaHaye action figureFor the last couple of weeks I've received a few emails from the generally excellent Campaign to Defend the Constitution (aka DefCon) about a new video game called "Left Behind: Eternal Forces".

If you're not familiar with the "Left Behind" franchise, it's based off Skeletor-lookalike rapture fundamentalist Tim LaHaye's popular book series. It's also spawned movies starring creepy Kirk Cameron. Now it's branched out to a crappy video game.

All well and good. Bad prose and bad movies often spawn bad video games.

Unfortunately, DefCon has gotten all in a snit over the game:
Just in time for Christmas, the religious right has released a violent video game in which born-again Christians aim to convert or kill those who don't adhere to their extreme ideology. Disturbingly, the game's apparent attempts at religious indoctrination are aimed at children and focus on violent, divisive, and hateful scenarios. While the religious right apparently has no problem pushing the product this holiday season, America's #1 video game seller should know better.

Take action now and urge Wal-Mart to stop selling religious violence this holiday season.

Now, I don't know if their main idea is to get major retailers not to sell the game at all of if they just want Wal-Mart to be consistent in its moralizing. Wal-Mart, of course, refuses to sell certain games due to content all the time. Either way, they're horribly misguided.

Worse yet, they've attracted other groups to their cause, and I've seen complaints about the game pop up on several liberal blogs.

One thing I thought the "reality based community" had a good grasp on was the fact that video games are not reality. Grand Theft Auto didn't make people go out and shoot hookers, Doom didn't cause the Columbine shootings, and Sim City has been responsible for very few city-planning disasters. Left Behind similarly is not going to cause its players to go out trying to kill or convert everyone they see (though some players may already have those propensities).

Unfortunately, the mainstream media has picked up on this story, which will mostly have the effect of selling more games. Reuters, AP, and the Boston Globe all have stories. I even heard it mentioned on Al Franken's Air America show (ugh, that's hard to admit listening to).

Here's some advice to liberals who want this game to go away. Shut up about it!

All indications are that it's a really terrible game based solely on its gameplay alone:
This game can do a great job of failing on its own merits, it doesn't need anyone to help it along.

Yes, the premise offends a lot of people. It is pretty awful. But censorship is censorship, and there's no place for it.

It all reminds me of the truly awful game Postal, which came out back in 1997. It was violent and stupid and not the least bit fun to play, but I played it. So did enough other people that it got an equally stupid and violent sequel.

Why did so many people play such a craptastic game? Because Joe Lieberman made a public issue out of it (in return, easy mode in Postal 2 was named "Liebermode"). He gave a ton of free press to a bad game that would have died a quiet death under the boot of just not being very fun and made it sound cool.

So please liberals, leave the whining about video games to the conservatives and Joe Lieberman. Defend the company's right to make and distribute lousy games about offensive subject matter. Stick with reality, we've certainly got enough instances of the wall between church and state breaking down to keep us busy. You can't defend the first amendment by attacking video games, you can only do it harm.

Sticking our nose in video game sales is not just silly and counterproductive, it's dangerously close to advocating censorship. This is not a fight we should be a part of.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Romney loves gays, anyone else he thinks can get him elected

There's a gay man in the barrel.Newspaper folks have short memories.

Today's Globe has an article entitled Romney is fast rising as a serious contender. In it they claim he's the number two contender for the presidency behind John McCain. This was based largely on a National Journal poll that was released on December 8th.

Among the reasons for his rise cited were the self-destruction of George Allen and Bill Frist, but also his wonderful new conservative credentials:
Now, Romney is widely accepted as a true conservative, to the right of the quirky McCain, by the large GOP punditocracy.

Good for him, he's finally managed to throw off that nasty liberalism of Massachusetts and convince the punditocracy that he's just as bigoted as their favorite sons.

Just one problem...

Between the National Journal's article and today's Globe love-fest the Log Cabin Republicans reared their confused and well-coiffed heads.

First there was a December 8th article in the New York Times. It introduced his 1994 letter (available here as a pdf) to the Log Cabin Republicans and his claim that he'd be a stronger gay rights advocate than Ted Kennedy, who he was running against for Senate at the time.

The religious right doesn't take kindly to such things. From the Times:
“This is quite disturbing,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, who had praised Mr. Romney as a champion of traditional values at the group’s conference in late September. “This type of information is going to create a lot of problems for Governor Romney. He is going to have a hard time overcoming this.”

Paul Weyrich, a founder of the modern conservative movement, said: “Unless he comes out with an abject repudiation of this, I think it makes him out to be a hypocrite. And if he totally repudiates this, you have to ask, on what grounds?”

He hasn't repudiated it, of course. He's instead chosen the baffling tactic of claiming that his views haven't changed. Apparently staying the course and looking like a huge liar to everyone is more sensible to him than just saying he had a change of heart. It's worked great for Bush so far, why not try it himself?

The day after the Times article, the Globe itself printed an article entitled New questions on Romney's stance on gays, which dealt with the same issues. It also throws in an added jab at his flip-flopping on abortion issues:
Romney is likely to face similar criticism over his comments on abortion. During the 1994 Senate race, he said, "I believe abortion should be safe and legal." When he ran for governor in 2002, he said he did not support abortion but would "protect the right of a woman to choose" the procedure. In a 2005 Globe op-ed article, he wrote, "I am pro life," and explained to reporters that his position on the issue had evolved.

In a recent posting titled "The Mitt Romney deception" that touches on Romney's gay rights positions, local conservative activist Brian Camenker wrote: "Despite recent statements across the country by Governor Mitt Romney claiming he's pro-life, pro-family and a committed conservative, a broad investigation of his actual statements, actions, and public positions over the years indicates that he has spent his entire career speaking and governing as a liberal."

As a liberal, I have to disagree with the assertion that he's governed as a liberal, but he certainly does say anything he thinks will get him elected. He's pro-gay rights as long as he's talking to gay people. He's pro-choice as long as he's trying to get elected in a heavily pro-choice state. Everyone in Massachusetts already knew he's an abject liar, it's about time the rest of the country caught on.

Today's Globe article ignored all this inconvenient information, of course. Perhaps the reporter was on a bender over the weekend and missed the developments that totally deflate his main point. Good reporting, Globe!

I'll say it again. Romney has no chance in the presidential election. I just hope he stays in the race, because it's just plain fun watching him flail his way to defeat.