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Jun 27 2011

Supremes say “Make War Not Love to Children” in Ruling Ban On Sale, Rental of Violent Video Games To Children Unconstitutional

The Supremes decided that exposure to sex is more dangerous to kids than violence ruling that while States may limit sale/rental of games with sexual content, it may place the same limit on games with extreme violence. The Supreme Court refused to let California regulate the sale or rental of violent video games to children, saying governments do not have the power to “restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed” despite complaints about graphic violence.

On a 7-2 vote, with Judge Scalia providing the majority opinion, the high court upheld a federal appeals court decision to throw out the state’s ban on the sale or rental of violent video games to minors. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Sacramento had ruled that the law violated minors’ rights under the First Amendment, and the high court agreed. Scalia stated:

“No doubt a state possesses legitimate power to protect children from harm . . . but that does not include a free-floating power to restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed.”

Judge Thomas and Judge Breyer disagreed, stating that America had always required those who wanted to have speech with minors to go through the minor’s parents. citing of course, his beloved Founding Fathers:

The practices and beliefs of the founding generation establish that “the freedom of speech,” as originally understood, does not include a right to speak to minors (or a right of minors to access speech) without going through the minors’ parents or guardians,”

Interestingly, Scalia supported his opinion by going even further back in time than 1776, citing the gore and violence in the original Grimm fairy tales:

Hansel and Gretel kill their captor by baking her in an oven, Cinderella’s evil stepsisters have their eyes pecked out by doves and the evil queen in Snow White is forced to wear red hot slippers and dance until she is dead,

So since it has been in our tradition, Sclia said, to tell violent tales to our kids, this law is unconstitutional. Since we have along history, on the other hand, of covering our kids’ eyes during exposure to sexual content, restrictions based on sexual content are constitutional. This seems to me to be an inconsistent basis for deciding the case.

OMG am I about to agree with Clarence Thomas?

Yes, I guess I am. If the State can regulate the sale/rental of sexually explicit video games to children, then it should be able to regulate explicit violent games to children. The regulation should be based on whether the State has the right to restrict access to content to children and not have it be based on the content itself. IT does say something about our country that we are more concerned about exposing our kids to sex than to violence. But I leave that for the sociologists in the room.

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