Reader K.P. comments on our The Other Charlotte’s and This Charlotte’s outrage over Washington Post fashion critic Robin Givhan’s snide take on the dressy pastel outfits that Jane Sullivan Roberts picked for herself and her children for their trip to the White House to hear President Bush announce the appointment of their paterfamilias, John R. Roberts, to the U.S. Supreme Court. (See TOC’s remarks and mine, July 22.)

Our wrathful reaction sparked an e-mail from reader K.W. agreeing that Givhans was out of line but that 4-year-old Jack Roberts looked like a “sissy” in his short-pants Eton suit (see the Mailbag for July 25). I disagreed, and now I’m hearing from K.P.:

“Hey gals, the reax to the Roberts’ children’s attire is regionalist. That’s how Southern parents dress their kids!”

Hmm, I’m not sure that I follow: Do Southern parents always choose Eton suits for their little boys, or do they always laugh at parents from other regions who dress their boys that way? I don’t know myself, because the closest I come to being from the South is Southern California.

To confuse matters further, the Robertses live in Maryland, a border state. Are they Southern or non-Southern?

At any rate, reader “Rod” offers words of comfort about Roberts’s nomination:   

“Hey, don’t worry; John Roberts will get his spot….The real fight is next time. John will walk in, but the next nominee will be the true battle. Love u gals xox.”

And we love “u” too, Rod!

Reader N.K. offers her thoughts about the new “San Andreas” episode in the video-game series Grand Theft Auto. San Andreas contained a locked but easily unlockable explicit sex scene (Warning: It’s an explicit sex scene), and it took a while–and a lot of fury from outraged parents–for a reluectant Electronic Software Ratings Board to switch its rating for the game from “M” (for “mature”) to “AO” (for adults only). (See “Here’s What the Entertainment Industry Deems Suitable for Kids,” July 21, and the  Mailbags for July 22 and July 25.) 

Says N.K.:

“It’s apparent that most people commenting about the game and the labeling did not actually READ the rating that was put on the game to begin with. The game was an M-rated. On the front of the box AND the CD, it says, “17+M,” in big fat letters. On the back of the box it repeats the message and then adds WHY it?s rated M. Once again, it’s printed in big, easily readable letters.

“This is the exact description from the back of the box: ‘Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs.’ The ESRB does a fine job of labelling GTA?s content. In fact, ESRB does a much better job labeling and explaining rating than the movie rating system does. There is no reason to blame ESRB for GTA.

“Also, almost all game vendors won’t sell M-games to minors. Many of them actually do ID checks if they’re not sure. If a parent comes up with their child and is buying a M-rated game, often the employee will TELL the parent, “Hey, you know this is a Mature-rated game, right?” There is no question in my mind that this is not ESRB or the game vendor’s fault. They do their job exceptionally well, and all on a volunteer basis. Don’t blame them. If kids are getting hold of this game, it?s completely in the parents’ hands. The gaming community has done more than enough to inform people of what their ratings mean. If parents refuse to take the time to look at the front of the box, the CD, OR the back of the box. It’s their own fault.

“I don’t like GTA. It’s a very immoral game. Adults shouldn’t be playing it, much less children. But I feel a lot of unwarrented anger has fallen on ESRB and game vendors. Give ?em a break.”

You make an excellent case, N.K. But what happens when a kid buys GTA on his own from a not-so-conscientious store employee? The fact remains that video games are games, and their biggest market is children. I’m not arguing for censorship but rather for responsibility on the part of the industry. And I agree that the film industry flagrantly abuses the PG-13 rating to allow a lot of material that’s not suitable for 13-year-olds.