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'War Is Not a Game': AOC to File Amendment Banning US Military From Recruiting on Twitch

"It's incredibly irresponsible for the Army and the Navy to be recruiting impressionable young people and children via live streaming platforms."

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-N.Y.) speaks at a press conference at Corona Plaza in Queens on April 14, 2020 in New York City. (Photo: Scott Heins/Getty Images)

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Wednesday afternoon introduced an amendment to an omnibus House Appropriations bill that would ban the U.S. military from using video game-streaming sites like popular platform Twitch to recruit impressionable young people, including underage children. 

"It's incredibly irresponsible for the Army and the Navy to be recruiting impressionable young people and children via live streaming platforms," Ocasio-Cortez told Motherboard Wednesday. 

The draft amendment, which "prohibits the use of funds for recruiting via video gaming and e-sports platforms," may not make it to the final bill.

According to Motherboard:

The House writes one version of the budget that has to go through multiple committees before being voted on by the entire House. And that's before the Senate gets involved. The Twitch amendment could falter at any step along the way, but the fact that Ocasio-Cortez introduced the amendment at all speaks to the mounting public pressure against the military using video games and Twitch as a recruitment tool.

The military's use of esports for recruitment has caused a number of public relations nightmares for the Pentagon in recent weeks, beginning on July 8 when activist Jordan Uhl was banned from the Army ESports Twitch channel for asking "what's your favorite u.s. w4r cr1me?" in the chat bar and then linking to the Wikipedia page of U.S. war crimes. 

The military is now under fire for violating Uhl's First Amendment rights and the freedom of speech rights of at least 300 other similarly banned users.

"When the government intentionally opens a space to the public at large for expressive activity, it has created a 'public forum' under the First Amendment, and it cannot constitutionally bar speakers from that forum based on viewpoint," the Knight First Amendment Institute said in a letter to military recruiters Wednesday.

Uhl told Common Dreams Ocasio-Cortez's amendment is a step in the right direction.

"It's fantastic to see Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez introduce this amendment," said Uhl. "I'm hopeful more people understand how dangerous and predatory the military's recruiting practices are and especially by exploiting parasocial relationships on Twitch. Shutting this down is one of many necessary steps required to dismantle the military industrial complex."

Using video games to recruit young people into the war machine, said Ocasio-Cortez, is an unacceptable approach to the Pentagon's mission—as evidenced by the Marines' decision not to engage in the platform.

"War is not a game," she said, "and the Marine Corps' decision not to engage in this recruiting tool should be a clear signal to the other branches of the military to cease this practice entirely."

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