Over the five (?!) years I’ve been writing for Horrible Night, I’ve gotten to report and opine on the intersection of video games and the law, often times finding an outlet for my love of First Amendment protection of speech that others find distasteful.
Hopefully, I won’t have to write too many more of those stories following the landmark Supreme Court decision in Brown v. EMA that held that video games were, in fact, protected speech under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. (Because there are no video games sold anywhere else in the world and even if there were, Free Speech!TM is the same in every country).
However, before I hang up that particular set of spurs, let’s make things weird.
Before I went to law school, I did research on the sentencing of murderers, so I read a lot of these things called Pre-Sentencing Reports. It was pretty macabre and fit in well with my sense of humor. Imagine my surprise when Cole sent me a link to a Pre Sentencing Report (US Department of Justice Sentencing Memorandum) for one Leland Yee, former State Senator from the State of
Attempts to Limit Speech California whose bill restricting the sale of ‘ultra violent’ video games to individuals under the age of 18 gave rise to the Electronic Merchant Association’s lawsuit.
-- "All I care about is that the women love me. That’s all I care," Federal prisoner Leland Yee
For those of you who haven’t followed the former California lawmaker’s fall from grace with the same gleeful attention that I have, the long and short of it is that in an ill-fated run for the California Secretary of State’s office (following an attempt to ascend to the mayor-hood of San Francisco), the good Senator engaged in a lengthy racketeering conspiracy for which the FBI investigated and busted him. He ‘exchanged official acts in exchange for money,’ laundered money, and, wait for it…was involved in a conspiracy to import illegal automatic weapons into the United States from the Philippines.
So, the guy who was worried about the impact of ‘ultra-violent’ games on the youth of today really should have been passing laws prohibiting those under the age of 18 from reading about or coming into contact with elected officials, instead.
Lock his ass up. Too bad about his old lady. Mic drop, Department of Justice, out.
Some highlights from the Pre-Sentencing Report, for your enjoyment:
- "Yee was prepared to vote for or against pending legislation…depending on which competing interest gave him the most money."
- Pretty self explanatory, but in short: dude was selling votes to the highest bidder.
- "Yee told UCE 4773 that ‘this is about a long term relationship." Yee mentioned that if he won the mayoral race, ‘we control $6.8 billion, man. Shit."
- UCE is Department of Justice code for undercover agent.
- San Francisco’s 2012 municipal budget was $7.6 billion, so Yee was being conservative about how much money he could redirect to his ‘favored contractors.’
- "As UCE 4599 and Jackson continued to meet and engage in firearms sales, a murder for hire conspiracy, and a drug conspiracy…the arms dealing topic remained on the table.
- Jackson was Yee’s partner in crime, doing the actual negotiation and taking money before reporting directly back to Yee.
- One of the sobering questions raised by his conduct here is whether the frequency and breadth of his corrupt conduct over the three years of FBI scrutiny is indicative of how he has conducted himself previously.
- Translation: We have no good god-damned idea what kind of bullshit this sleaze-bag got up to before we had enough probable cause to surveil his ass.
- These serious offenses were then compounded by Yee’s willingness to engage in arms trafficking…[d]espite the fact that Yee was at the time publicly supporting gun control legislation.
- Translation: Not only did he solicit bribes, he was 100% mercenary about it, like...well, look, we can’t come up with a better example of two-faced politicking than this, really, and that’s saying something.
- In exchange for money, he performed official acts. He did so for purely selfish purposes of maintaining public office. Yee also performed the acts for persons of, at best, dubious character. He even went so far as engaging in a conspiracy to sell and ship arms, including automatic weapons, in order to get money to support his drive for higher public office.
- Lock his ass up. Too bad about his old lady. Mic drop, Department of Justice, out.
Considering the amount of morally empty, agnostic betrayal of the public trust that Senator Lee engaged in, one can only wonder…
If Senator Lee drafted the legislation that would have banned the sale of ‘ultra-violent’ video games to people under 18 while engaging in racketeering beginning (as far as the FBI can tell) in 2011, and Volition put together Saints Row IV during that same time span, was it a case of art imitating life that the openly corrupt leader of the Saints rises to the office of the President of the United States? Was Yee involved in its early development and Volition just didn’t pay him enough not to file his violent video games bill?
Yee’s in prison and Volition isn’t talking, but after reading the saga of Leland Yee, it’s not the craziest idea I’ve had.