Mr Michael Atkinson, the South Australian attorney general, still misunderstands a key issue affecting Australians and it's an issue that those he represents are demanding that he consider.
Australian gaming website Kotaku has published a response to a letter that a member wrote to Mr Atkinson; unfortunately for law-abiding, adult Australian gamers the news is all bad. Not only is Mr Atkinson unrelenting in his position to cement Australia's status as the only developed nation not to have an adult categorisation for computer games, he is still displaying woeful deliberate ignorance of the key issues involved.
In the simplest possible terms, Mr Atkinson's position is revealed as “none shall pass”, but a slightly more detailed executive summary is;
Mr Atkinson speaks his opinion on the matter publicly as his, but there is a “silent majority” of Australian attorneys general who share his views.
The vast majority of correspondence Mr Atkinson receives on the issue is anonymous and abusive.
He is aware of the rising age of adult gamers in Australia, however continues to refer to his twenty-two year old son, who is able to smoke, drink, apply for a mortgage or purchase X rated pornography, as a “child” - belying that he understands concepts such as childhood and adulthood at all.
He asserts that the number of games that Australian adults are unable to play because they are unsuitable for Australian children is small, and he therefore does not understand the fuss.
He cannot understand why adults would want exposure to stylised depictions of activity that would be illegal if actually enacted. One might surmise he will soon commence campaigning against crime dramas on television.
His bachelor of laws from Australian National University appears to have provided him with an understanding of the devastating societal impact of adult computer games born of their interactive nature; inviting us to wonder if ANU conversely teaches the intricacies of litigation to sociology students.
The majority of Australians do not want an adult rating for computer games.
What is particularly frustrating from this latest hollow defence of Mr Atkinson's position is both how unilateral it is (the secret support of other attorneys general aside), how starved of facts he is (he refers to the Classification Board as the Office of Film and Literature Classification, he is unique in his doing so since July 2007) and how the siege he continues to weather is generally conducted from a position of confusion and misinformation.
Mr Atkinson continues to conceal his confusion by seasoning his rhetoric with references to the Eros Foundation and unspeakable (actual) crimes visited on people around the world which bear resemblances to artistic depictions in computer games. This is of course all designed to inspire distaste in conservative observers and is a dismaying ploy brought to a remarkable (if familiar) crescendo;
Some of that 'majority' might argue that access to R18+ games is an issue of censorship - that adults should be able to see and play what they want. This is a shallow and lazy argument. If parliament decided laws on the basis that adults should be able to do and see what they want, then child-abuse images (child pornography) would be freely available.
Equating free speech with child sexual abuse is something that EFA is intimately familiar with, but noting the spread of it doesn't seem to get any more pleasant and it is unlikely that this is due to our shallowness or laziness. Mr Atkinson's shameful behaviour will garner continued support amongst moral conservatives, however responsible adult Australian gamers will continue to escalate their frustration with his selfish and and rudderless position.
The full letter response, for those who have the stomach for it, is at http://www.kotaku.com.au/games/2009/03/atkinson_argues_his_case_says_he_doesnt_trust_classification_board.html