But surely we have to protect our children from bad influences? As a father myself I understand that sentiment perfectly, but the answer isnâ€™t lobbying to ban anything that you donâ€™t like. The responsibility of protecting our children lies first and foremost with the parents, and if a parent doesnâ€™t think that a game is suitable for their child, they shouldnâ€™t let them play it â€“ itâ€™s that simple!
Trying to ban anything that you personally donâ€™t agree with completely contradicts the basis of a democratic society. The whole basis of a democracy is that even though I may not agree with what youâ€™re saying, I will fight for your right to say it. Ultimately, if I donâ€™t want to hear what you have to say, Iâ€™m not obligated to listen. And in exactly the same vein, if you donâ€™t want to play Bully or let your kids play it, then donâ€™t!
Unfortunately, no matter how calmly and clearly I lay out the basics of democracy and freedom of speech, there will always be some people who feel that their opinion should be adopted by all of society. After all, the situation that Rockstar finds itself in right now is far from new. Back in the 1950s J. D. Salinger published The Catcher in the Rye, and despite the fact that it is widely considered to be one of the most important books of the 20th century, it caused the kind of hysterical backlash that makes the current furore over Bully seem completely insignificant.
What made The Catcher in the Rye such an important and brilliant book, was also what made conservative America fear and loathe it. Holden Caulfield was the original non-conformist, he hated society and the weak willed people that populated it. Holden was different at a time when being different wasnâ€™t just frowned upon, it was stamped on. And despite the fact that a worrying amount of schools and libraries did in fact ban Salingerâ€™s masterpiece, it still became an icon for a generation of young people. Holden made them feel that perhaps, just perhaps being different wasnâ€™t necessarily a bad thing.
Now, Iâ€™m not going to suggest that Bully is as important a work as The Catcher in the Rye, but the controversy surrounding Bully highlights the fact that there are still people out there who would like to take our freedom of choice away from us, and that my friends, is a very scary prospect. Just imagine if The Catcher in the Rye had been banned; for good. Just imagine if every printed copy had been burned and no publisher was allowed to set it in print again. The world would have been robbed of what is (in my opinion at least), one of the greatest books ever written.
Censorship is a slippery slope and once we start to allow the few to decide what the many can and canâ€™t do, we stop living in a democracy and start living in a dictatorship. It doesnâ€™t matter whether or not I think that Bully is a good game. What does matter is that I will fight for Rockstarâ€™s right to publish it, just like an entire generation in the 50s fought for Salingerâ€™s masterpiece. And Iâ€™m very grateful to each and every one of them, because if it wasnâ€™t for them I would never have the chance to introduce my daughter to Holden Caulfield.