Brazilians explore banning "offensive" and violent videogames

New reports of 11,000 people killed by Brazilian police over the past six years are perhaps one indication that violence in the super-star Amazon country has gotten a wee bit out of hand.

Never fear, there is a long term solution already under consideration: prohibit "offensive" video games, with the option to punish their distribution with jailtime. In all honesty, Brazilian Senator Valdir Raupp probably did not have human rights violations in mind when he proposed the bill, which was recently approved by Senate's Education Committee. It follows on the ban last year on violent computer role-playing games "Counter-Strike" and "EverQuest," and Venezuela and China's bans on warlike and mobster-glorifying games respectively.

CNET's Dave Rosenberg has lambasted Brazil's move, suggesting they deal with "larger social issues, including lack of parental oversight," instead. They praise the US system of industry self-regulation, which relies on ratings to isolate children from violent games.

The Brazilian law is probably overkill, but lets not get all starry eyed about the glories of free-market entertainment violence. Did nobody notice a few years back when U.S. generals begged Hollywood producers to stop showing torture in a favorable light, since troops were getting inspiration on prisoner treatment from 24?

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Sarkozy and Kouchner still not on the same page

French President Nicolas Sarkozy took to the pages of Le Monde yesterday with a partial defense of the Swiss minaret ban:

"How can you not be amazed at the reaction that this decision has produced in certain media and political circles in our own country," Sarkozy said. "Instead of condemning the Swiss out of hand, we should try to understand what they meant to express and what so many people in Europe feel, including people in France."

The "political circles" he mentions, may be a reference to his own Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who declared himself "scandalized" by the minaret ban last week:

"I hope that the Swiss will go back on this decision rather quickly," Kouchner said on France's RTL radio. "It is an expression of intolerance, and I detest intolerance."

It's  of a head of state-foreign minister pair who disagree as often or as profoundly as Sarkozy and Kouchner. The Medecins Sans Frontieres founder has described his frequent frequent arguments with the president as "thrilling," though he's also admitted that it's essentially impossible to reconcile his passion for human rights with the realities of modern statecraft.

It should be interesting to see how much longer this unlikely partnership can last.