The ACL Dukes It Out With The Sex Party On Classification

The ACL Dukes It Out With The Sex Party On Classification

The ACL Dukes It Out With The Sex Party On ClassificationWe’ve had our own issues with the Australian Christian Lobby with regards to video game classification, but now it seems that Jim Wallace is taking issue with Fiona Patten of The Sex Party after she expressed support for a complete overhaul of the classification system, including the introduction of an R18 rating for video games.

In an extremely telling opinion piece, Fiona Patten took issue with the SCAG meeting in December, and the fact that Jim Wallace of the ACL was allowed to address the Attorneys-General, along with anti-games campaigner Dr Elizabeth Handley.

The 80% of Australians who supported an R rating in the polls should be pretty concerned that before their last meeting on games, SCAG allowed the Australian Christian Lobby’s, Jim Wallace to address them on the issue. They also allowed another anti games campaigner, Dr Elizabeth Handley to address them.

When I tried to address SCAG a few years ago on censorship issues I was told that the group did not entertain lobbyists of any kind. Clearly things have changed and now if you represent a Christian view you get in. This represents an appalling misuse of power and engages Australia’s Attorney’s General in discriminatory behaviour which could well be illegal if it was someone else doing it.

According to Patten, this a direct result of an extremely conservative group of Attorneys-General that don’t represent the middle ground of the Australian public.

SCAG has probably been the most conservative cross party grouping of senior politicians ever to exist in Australia. The recent changes have altered nothing. Rob Hulls has exited on behalf of Victoria and he has been replaced by an ‘out’ Christian, Robert Clark. John Rau has replaced the ‘high Anglican’ Michael Atkinson in SA and Christian Porter is the newbie for WA. The conservative Christian A-G in NSW, John Hatzistagos, who recently became the first ever A-G to give police censorship powers, is unfortunately still there although he will be removed at the next NSW state election in March. But don’t hold your breath that the new NSW Liberal A-G will be any better because it will be yet another born again Christian – Greg Smith. So why is that men of religious persuasion get such a good run on SCAG? Where are all the civil libertarian Attorneys like Lionel Murphy, Gareth Evans and Daryl Williams

The response from Jim Wallace is entirely predictable, and laced with the same scare-mongering language we’ve come to expect from the Australian Christian Lobby.

While the system has been left behind by new media – a key reason for this probe – any review should also take in outdoor advertising and the self-governing television stations whose constant boundary pushing has left very little public and prime time space as a respite for the necessary innocence of childhood.

Of course those who make a living from exploiting people, particularly young women, along with those who produce violent and sexualized video games, want to see the rules loosened further.

Somehow they want us to believe that lifting current bans on extreme interactive violence and gratuitous sex will better protect children.

He also spoke on his experience of presenting to the Attorneys-General at the SCAG meeting.

Members of the public supposedly expressing overwhelming support in opinion polls for lifting the ban of extreme interactive computer game violence might also baulk if they too could see what the State and Federal Attorneys General saw.

It was very clear to me that the great majority of AGs were in a state of bemusement that anyone could want to make or play many of these games and particularly those proposed for an R18+ rating, and many said so.

We’re almost loathe to give the Australian Christian Lobby any more attention that they deserve, considering their out-dated, out of touch views on what is a clear cut issue for the Australian public – but we think it’s important to see what we’re up against. The influence that the Australian Christian Lobby has had over the R18+ debate is probably the greatest tragedy of this whole affair – considering that not only do they not reflect the opinion of Australians, they don’t even reflect the opinions of the Christians they are supposed to represent.

At the moment the Classification Board are currently taking submissions on the proposed terms of reference for the upcoming review on classification as a whole – you can have your say using this online enquiry form

You can also head here to read our extensive feature on the overhaul of classification in Australia.

Classification system should provide respite for innocence of children [ABC Technology And Games]


    I really don’t know where to start, but this seems as good a place as any “those who make a living from exploiting people, particularly young women”… are you serious?
    People choose these professions, not liking them or not accepting them won’t make them go away.
    Making them illegal makes them harder to regulate and less scrupulous.

    While she mentioned trying a couple of years back to talk to the SCAG about censorship a couple of years ago, I would have respected her more if she ahd tried again recently. Still, it does reveal a disappointing double standard.

    It’s a shame she seems to see Christianity as synonymous with censorship, but with the work the ACL has laid it’s understandable.

  • ‘not only do they not reflect the opinion of Australians, they don’t even reflect the opinions of the Christians they are supposed to represent.’

    Furthermore, they don’t even understand what they are talking about (R18 ratings will not open the floodgates for obscene content).

  • They seem to forget the point of the classification system was to classify not to ban or censor anything.
    The first rule of the classification code was something to the effect of ‘adults should be able to see/read/hear what they choose’.

    The point of the classification system is to classify.
    If a state chooses to ban certain media based on its classification (such as X rated video) that’s a seperate issue.

  • Anyone with subscriptions to the local gaming mags: Are they running stories about this issue much? Curious to know how ‘out there’ the issue is in those publications.

    • PCPowerPlay has been covering censorship in games since the early to mid ninties, covered Michael Atkinson, Gamers 4 Croyden and other key issues with in-depth articles, and the recent media swell and knock back. They’re planning an article for next moth covering the complete saga to date, from the sounds of things.
      Haven’t read many others.

      • Nice, another PCPP reader 🙂

        On topic, I seriously don’t get why religious organisation get a say in the way this country is runned.

  • Members of the public supposedly expressing overwhelming support in opinion polls might also baulk if they too could see what the State and Federal Attorneys General saw.

    Then why haven’t you shown it to them

    Pretty obvious they’ve grabbed stuff that sees release only via the interwebz, and would come under rc anyway

    Not to mention anything taken out of context can be seen as bad

  • I reacted to his article initially, and posted comments arguing it but then I realised something……. Its a reactionary article to a bit the Sex party put up. Its typical for most lobbyists to do when cornered with an arguement that is against them. He is lashing out at everything with his opinion, its a total brain dump WITHOUT evidence (actually he blatently lies on the page about the UK ISPs).

    He is a cornered animal and is lashing out anyway possible and unfortanetly for us GAMERS, our politicans listen to him (and his money).

    • That’s the pattern I have noticed as well. The ACL is expecting an uproar – they want us to react so that it given truth to their fictions.

      One of the oldest tricks in the book.

      • The best result is that they jump into the room screaming “RAAAAAAAGHHHHH I’M YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE!”

        *10 seconds of silence*

        “Honest, I am!”

        Then they slink off dejectedly

  • Maybe we should right complaints to the ABC about allowing scum like him to post on the ABC website?

    I wonder how he would like being censored?

  • I have the strangest feeling that I’m going to waste most of today having fun being somewhat antagonistic in the comments.

    For anyone wanting to play along, I’m going along the lines of:
    1) prove any media content is harmful to children, 2) prove any media content is more harmful to children than any other media content,
    3) find a way for the above arguments to not apply to the Bible.

    Now, I admit that the last one is somewhat trollish, but I’m just sick of the premise that “violent and sexual media” is harmful to children. That claim is unproven, but endlessly repeated and the basis for the entire debate. Any censorship group is going to win as long as we’re going to debate along those terms because people will always take the “safe” approach, so the debate should not be about what is appropriate for children or not, but why children are being involved in the debate at all.

    • Violent and sexual material IS harmful to children. It’s kind of the whole point of introducing the R18 rating. To stop the kids from having too easy access to it.

      It’s a really strange situation where both sides of the debate are using exactly the same points to argue their side.

      • Disclaimer: This became a really opinionated/personal philosophy rant. I didn’t really mean for it to, but I think this kind of stuff is worth saying. Don’t take offense, but I’ve had an awful lot of pent-up frustration on this issue.

        There is nothing that actually proves that, man. I actually would argue strenuously that childhood is not a state, its a process. Specifically its the process of losing innocence. The concept of innocence is a religious notion of purity that simply isn’t true. No one is innocent/guilty the way Christians want us to believe we are. There is no magic ceremony that turns on the ‘grown up’ parts of our brain at the age of 18 that would prepare an ‘innocent’ child to be able to cope with real violence and real sex.

        Sexual and violent media aren’t harmful to children, they are harmful to SOCIETY. That is to say that it might make children unruly or something, but the only problem with that is they’ll misbehave and not fit into society. Now I’m no anarchist, I think we’re better off with some rules and guidelines to keep us civilized. That’s the purpose of media classification. We protect children from it because 1) we believe they are not fully cognitive of their actions’ consequences and 2) we assign responsibility differently to the actions of adults and children because of that. We don’t let adults make many mistakes before they’re arrested or whatever. We view childhood as a time to teach moral right from wrong and don’t want to risk children getting the idea to commit what would be a moral wrong from media.

        But in the end, how else is a kid in first world countries going to learn anything other than through media? Its not as if most of us deal with death on a daily basis. We’re not allowed to have sex as children, etc.

        • I’m not speaking from studies or religious views but as my own experiences as a father of 2 children. An 8 year old is simply not equipped to deal with the issues brought up in games intended for a mature audience. They have enough issues and concerns dealing with eight year old problems without exposing them to ones which require far more emotional maturity.

          That being said, I am in no way supporting censorship in any shape or form. Very few of my games are rated under MA. But my kids are not allowed anywhere near them. It’s called parental responsibility. I refuse to just give in my responsibility to raise my children as I believe is right simply because of “they will be exposed to it anyway”.

          • To clarify, I’m not singling out games. My view applies to all media. To say that games are worse than other forms is just idiotic and sensationalist.

      • How? I’m not trolling here, I would genuinely like to see proof that viewing violent/sexual media has a noticeable negative impact on children.

        Pretty much every study that I’ve read about violence in video games focuses on college age adults (I assume largely because they’re easy for researchers to access). Even then, they don’t demonstrate harm but at most an increase in short term aggressive or anti-social responses.

        If you can prove that, then we can move on to the claims of the ACL (and similarly aligned people) that any other type of media can be more harmful than others.

        Back to the age restriction thing, if it can be proven that something is harmful to children, then you should be able to demonstrate when it stops being harmful to people. Obviously people mature at different ages, so I’m fine with working on averages on this one. At the moment, 15 and 18 years old are really just arbitrary lines in the sand. 18 is because that’s the legal age of majority here, but what’s the justification for 15. Is there anything to show that a 15 year old is not capable of dealing with the same things as an 18 year old?

        I could really go on for a while here. The short version is that I have yet to see anything to back up the claim that is any stronger for the justification for the taboo on profanity.

      • yup violent video games bad for children.

        Yet giving them an intolerant religion normally against there choice. That has caused the deaths of more people than any other thing in the world. That in order to “Protect” the innocence of people makes people feel bad about making the correct choice.

        i know someone who was fairly heavily addicted to drugs and she got pregnant, now according to the church she should bring that child into the world, regardless of the fact that at the time she was unfit as a mother wouldn’t be able to provide for her child and could have caused any number of illnesses

        theres always someone saying that this hurts a kid others could say that it promotes there development as opposed to waiting for when there 21 and going well we had cotton wool there for all your life now here the real world and compared to the make believe one we made up for you it’s gonna drive you insane.

        i mean sweden scientist’s say a pint of beer is healthy for you, but australian scientists run out and say no no it isn’t(probably because there funded by the govt and the govt believes we all have drinking problems)

        • Well were I the cynical sort I’d suggest that the reason the church would want her to have a child is so it’d grow up to satisfy the depraved sexual appetites of their clergy who will be shuffled around the place as soon as anyone gets suspicious but the matter will be 100% investigated in an honest, law abiding and above all utterly SECRET manner by the pope who’ll discover to his amazement that the dozens of cases with an almost identical story and where the priest has no alibi were all a crazy made up story used as a smear campaign by athiests to discredit the fine moral upstanding and definitely NOT paedophile protecting church

          If I were the cynical sort that is…

      • They both use the same arguement because who ever “thinks of the children” always wins it seems. Its the emotive arguement, and whether its good for the children or not (in some cases it is not) people always just take this line/attitude as the correct one for what ever case it is (unfortanetly in the case when its bad for the children).

  • “Members of the public supposedly expressing overwhelming support in opinion polls for lifting the ban of extreme interactive computer game violence might also baulk if they too could see what the State and Federal Attorneys General saw.”

    I read this to mean that someone in the ACL dragged out a game that wouldn’t ever be classified in Australia even *with* an 18+ rating and showed that to the highly biased conservative SCAG meeting to sare them back into line.

    ACL has far too much power. They speak for a fringe element of a single religion, not the majority of Australia.

    • Oh no, they didn’t try that god forsaking Rapelay argument again?

      That game is no longer made and faced a backlash even in Japan where it was made.

      Isn’t there a law where options have to be based on fact?

  • “self-governing television stations whose constant boundary pushing has left very little public and prime time space as a respite for the necessary innocence of childhood.”

    Don’t get to watch ABC2 for Kids much hey Jim? If only they were not destroying the innocence of childhood. Damn you Giggle and Hoot. Damn you Tinga Tales and your immoral crusading.

    • Actually the self-governing TV station ratings is a problem. They have regularly misprogrammed areas or even misclassified programs in recent times. They act as the police and judge at the same time, thus they generally only get warnings for breaches. Maybe OFLC should start classifing TV programs, they pretty well do it anyway when the DVDs come out.

      I think is probably the most valid point he has in the whole article.

  • Can someone please tell me why do not have a separation of church from state here? I must be really missing something. How is it the ACL is allowed to make wild claims yet not be required to provide evidence?

    It’s been a while since I looked into this so everyone if free to correct me if I am wrong.

    First, classification in Australia exists as two layers – first the classification code while defines what is acceptable and what is not and we also have the rating system which provides general a consumer friendly means of identifying appropriate content for themselves and others.

    It is my understanding that even if a R18+ is introduced, there will be no flood of depraved games because (i) the classification code already filters out such content in the first place and (ii) even if such games slip through, they are already here in the MA 15+ bracket.

    My classic example has always been the GTA games. Yes some have been watered down but the environment and context is still there so it is laughable how we are the only nation that allows maturing minors (I deem minors below 15 and adults 18 and above) access to content only accessible to adults in other countries.

    Seriously, from how I see it, we could introduce a X and even a XXXXXXXXX rating and still will be safe as the classification code forbids a lot of the content anti-R18 advocates fear.

    • Shhhhh. You’re trying to use logical arguments on an illogical argument. If you keep that up the world will be sucked into a black hole.

      Hmmm, perhaps if the world is about to be sucked into a black hole we can offer up the ACL and see if that satisfies it. I mean the ACL are here for the good of us all, so I’m sure they’d be more than happy to make that sacrifice.

    • You forgot (iii) Australia isn’t such a large market that devs are sitting there waiting for a change to the Australian classification system to jump at the chance to make an R18 game…

      …Unless they’re like me. Honestly after all the “floodgate” nonsense I’d be making the most depraved game I could think of (ready to be released the day the rating changes) out of simple spite.

  • You know what, I’ve had enough of this argument. It’s time for our spineless games industry to step up and do something about this. If they actually read Fiona Patten’s article they would see examples given of how X-rated dvd’s are sold in Australia by the likes of Club-X and SexyLand, in most states this is against the law to do. It’s time our video game industry did the same thing.

    I’m over trying to support these guys when the most they can do is organise a petition and have their industry CEO occasionally say a few words to the media. Until they take action they will not be getting my business.

    • That’s what I think too, their customers are already ignoring the laws and importing the games because the law is wrong so the shops should just ignore the law too.

      • I do not mean to be rude, but it is reactions like that the the ACL actually want.

        They want to hear of people defining the law as it give credibility to their claims.

  • Ok, so anyone who has been to the UK (or any country that uses 18+ rating) will realise that no ones actually gives a crap, I’ve spent years of my life buying games rated 15 and 18 in england over the counter with no fuss from about the age of 12 onwards.

    games seem to be exempt in the eyes of retailers since theres no-one like these fuckass fundamentalist christians (dont quote me on that) kicking up a fuss, these people really need to start playing these games instead of criticising them lol

  • F#$k the religious right wing in this country and F@#4k local retail and their price gouging.
    Just Import people.
    This debate has gone on far too long with zero progress and will undoubtedly continue well into the future as ignorant minority groups with vested interests attempt to shovel their narrow minded and uninformed views across the rest of Australian society….this is not just with regards to the R18 debate but affects us all in many aspects of our daily lives….Im from WA where we still cant do our shopping on a Sunday!

    Statements such as ‘Members of the public supposedly expressing overwhelming support in opinion polls for lifting the ban of extreme interactive computer game violence might also baulk if they too could see what the State and Federal Attorneys General saw’ are so deliberately misleading, opinionated and when stated without any actual reference or evidence are utterly meaningless, it is shameful that any publication should re-quote them as any sort of valid argument in this debate. What some retarded born again Christian finds offensive compared with the rest of us normal intelligent, informed adults will be vastly different.

    • yeah, u mad. . .

      But seriously, can i get some reason up in this thread? So far it is just a circle jerk of self-affirming vox-pop statements, no better than the statements the ACL are making.

      This is the problem with public debates, the most passionate are usually the most uninformed; case in point, the ACL AND THIS THREAD.

      I support R18+ BTW, but I like to do it based on reasoned argument.

  • The arrogance of these people knows no bounds.

    “Members of the public supposedly expressing overwhelming support (..) might also baulk if they too could see what the State and Federal Attorneys General saw.”

    Did I read that one right? are they saying that they know what I think better than I do?

    On a subject I’m far more knowledgeable than they will ever be?

    Now I’m on a state of “bemusement”.

  • As a pretty conservative Christian myself I honestly can see any depth to the ACL arguement that there shouldn’t be an R18+ rating. It needs to happen to stop games that would have been classified R18+ being tweaked slightly and then released as MA15+. There’s a big difference between being cautious and conservative and burying your head in the sand on an issue and the ACL seems to be doing that by pushing an position that isn’t shared by those they proclaim to represent.

  • Why on earth are people even listening to the ACL? Who gives them a voice on this, or any other gaming related issue?

    What credentials to they have that allows them to say “We, as a dedicated religious organisation that has nothing to do with the games industry, have a more respectable ‘expert’ opinion on this issue than a dedicated gaming website/publication put together by people who ARE involved in the industry”?

    Their organisation and their goals have nothing to do with gaming at all. It sickens me that so many media outlets are giving them an “expert” voice when they don’t deserve it.

    I suspect that they’re probably the only major organisation (with any significant influence anyway) that is actually in opposition to the R18 rating, and if a journalist is to write an unbiased article/editorial they need to provide both points of view. The ACL are probably the only people who are willing to provide it.

  • I’m a religious person and I believe what the Christian Lobby is doing is wrong. Belief shouldn’t be put in front of facts and common sense.

    If anything, their actions are shown to be the work of a cult with just “Christian” put in their name to believe otherwise.

  • I take issue with her statement that if you represent a Christian view you get in. I’m a Christian and in no way is the ACL representative of my opinions.

    Also, John Rau may not be the AG for much longer… he’s the favourite to replace the tresurer.

  • I’m officially over this now.
    It is clear that the ACL and other religious groups have the final say in not only this matter but many other policies and reforms.
    The classification for games in Australia isn’t going to change any time in the near or medium future.
    No argument / poll / research study / debate is going to change their minds, we spend so much energy writing and reading on this issue when they effortlessly bat it away.
    They want us to return to ‘The good ol days’
    They have the political connections. They win.

  • shall we deny adults access to cars because they are not suitable for children?
    shall we deny adults access to knives because they are not suitable for children?

    welcome to the next dark age, where australian adults are forced to walk around like cavemen, eating meat with their bare hands.

  • I remember posting a comment on an ACL member’s article a few months back and they edited it. They cut out my rant at the start about the author using an uncensored violent image in a public forum just to make a point (it was a picture of a crucified person against a wall in Bioshock).

    These morons will lose out in the end. We all know their argument is infantile. The sad fact is that we could be left in the lurch for quite a few years before common sense prevails but we’ll live. People will look back (once we actually have some adult masterpieces) and wonder what the big deal was.

    Even if they could completely spare our youth from violent media (put on your scifi hats now), could they stop “contaminated” foreigners (foreigners who have been subjected to this media) from coming in and corrupting our kids? Of fucking course not.

    I have a suggestion for those supporting the R18+ argument (as I indeed do). Don’t be hypocrites yourselves and dress your argument up in bullshit. The pro arguments sounded almost as insulting as the ACL’s arguments. Don’t pretend that your sole concern is that kids are currently being subjected to violent games already. That isn’t kidding anyone. Have some self respect. I for one am pissed that I’m being denied some cool (and albeit very violent) games. While it is a valid argument that 15 yr olds are playing stuff not suitable for them, I think the big argument is that games are art and that kids aren’t the only ones who play them. This same argument will work but it will take time.

  • Had the overhaul of the classification system been in the government’s hands, we might not be having this argument at all. It would’ve made its way into the senate where several legitemate parties could deliver their imput. I’m probably wrong on this, but last time I checked, the majority of political parties either supported the introduction of an R18 rating, or didn’t have a position on it.

    Right now, the decision lies in the hands of a small, evershuffling board of 6 men mostly of religous conviction, whose influence is dictated by a single lobby group. I know I’m not the only one that sees this as a problem.

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