Video Games and the First Amendment

Perspectives on our world and our universe, how it works, what is happening, and why it happens. Whether by a hidden hand or natural laws, we come together to hash it out, and perhaps provide a little bit of education and enlightenment for others. This is a place for civil discussion. Please keep it that way.
Forum rules
1) Remain civil. Respect others' rights to their viewpoints, even if you believe them to be completely wrong.
2) Sourcing your information is highly recommended. Plagiarism will get you banned.
3) Please create a new thread for a new topic, even if you think it might not get a lot of responses. Do not create mega-threads.
4) If you think the subject of a thread is not important enough to merit a post, simply avoid posting in it. If enough people agree, it will fall off the page soon enough.
Post Reply
User avatar
collegestudent22
Crazy Person
Posts: 6886
Joined: Fri Jun 08, 2007 10:02 am
Gender: Male
Location: Gallifrey

Video Games and the First Amendment

Post by collegestudent22 » Fri Jul 01, 2011 12:03 am

Supreme Court threw out the California law that prevented sale of so-called violent games to minors! (PDF - Supreme Court opinions).
Justice Antonin Scalia wrote:The most basic principle--that government lacks the power to restrict expression because of its message, ideas, subject matter, or content--is subject to a few limited exceptions for historically unprotected speech, such as obscenity, incitement, and fighting words. But a legislature cannot create new categories of unprotected speech simply by weighing the value of a particular category against its social costs and then punishing it if it fails the test.
Reading Dante is unquestionably more cultured and intellectually edifying than playing Mortal Kombat. But these cultural and intellectual differences are not constitutional ones. Crudely violent video games, tawdry TV shows, and cheap novels and magazines are no less forms of speech than The Divine Comedy, and restrictions upon them must survive strict scrutiny
This case is further interesting because the Justices did not split along "party" lines, and only ONE Justice (Breyer) wrote that the law should be upheld because such a restriction on violent games is a good and necessary thing, consistent with the Constitution. (Thomas's dissent is based on an idea that the First Amendment cannot be fully applied to minors because parents have full control over communication involving their kids - Scalia argues, quite well IMO, this doesn't allow for government action.) Any argument like Breyer's must fall apart once you realize that the most violent games (like that based on Columbine) are distributed over the internet, often for free, and not in the retail stores that this law is targeting.

So, thoughts, comments, opinions, questions, etc.?
Frédéric Bastiat wrote:And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgment of faith in God and His works.
Count Axel Oxenstierna wrote:Dost thou not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed?

User avatar
Arres
Crazy Person
Posts: 2064
Joined: Thu May 12, 2005 4:38 am
Location: Pomona, Ca

Re: Video Games and the First Amendment

Post by Arres » Fri Jul 01, 2011 6:33 am

I was glad this was the result, but I find the dissenting opinion regarding the First Amendment not applying to children the most fascinating. Granted, children aren't real people with all the rights associated, but I'm not sure I'm comfortable saying that they don't have the protection of the First Amendment.
Image
Sheldon wrote:For the record, I am waaaay an adult. Like, super-way.
The Ponynati said:You cannot escape us. You cannot stop us. Soon all the world will bow down to the power of ponies.
The Cid wrote:...the text message is the preferred method of communication for prepubescent girls. Bunch of grown men sending digital paper airplanes to each other. Give me a break.

User avatar
spikegirl7
Crazy Person
Posts: 1970
Joined: Fri Nov 24, 2006 8:51 pm
Real Name: Natalie
Gender: Female
Location: SW city, MO

Re: Video Games and the First Amendment

Post by spikegirl7 » Fri Jul 01, 2011 6:56 am

I heard and my response was pretty much, "meh." Partially because I'm not 100% clear on what this law DOES. Does it just stop a kid from walking into a store and buying an M rated game without a parent with them to approve or disapprove their purchase? Or does it mean his parent can be fined/penalized for providing it? Because quite frankly I have no problem with the first.

To explain, if I had a child looking through my game library there are a few things I might not want my kids to play. And there are many games at my local game store I wouldn't want any kid of mine to play without me first seeing if it was right for them. I am therefore perfectly OK with a law that prevents them from going into a game store by themselves and buying an M-rated video game. But most game stores around here do that anyways (not Walmart, oddly enough) so it's a non-issue.

However the idea of penalizing any parent who provides those games seems a bit off. A video game is no worse than an R-rated movie, and as such I believe that if a parent believes their child is mature enough to play they should be allowed to provide the games without being demonized.
'What is morality?'
'Judgment to distinguish right and wrong, vision to see the truth, courage to act upon it, dedication to that which is good, integrity to stand by the good at any price.'

User avatar
Arres
Crazy Person
Posts: 2064
Joined: Thu May 12, 2005 4:38 am
Location: Pomona, Ca

Re: Video Games and the First Amendment

Post by Arres » Fri Jul 01, 2011 10:15 am

I think the issue for a lot of us was a slippery slope one Spike. We don't want to encourage the government to think that defining what is and isn't a legally acceptable video game is the kind of thing they ought to be doing.
Image
Sheldon wrote:For the record, I am waaaay an adult. Like, super-way.
The Ponynati said:You cannot escape us. You cannot stop us. Soon all the world will bow down to the power of ponies.
The Cid wrote:...the text message is the preferred method of communication for prepubescent girls. Bunch of grown men sending digital paper airplanes to each other. Give me a break.

User avatar
collegestudent22
Crazy Person
Posts: 6886
Joined: Fri Jun 08, 2007 10:02 am
Gender: Male
Location: Gallifrey

Re: Video Games and the First Amendment

Post by collegestudent22 » Fri Jul 01, 2011 3:27 pm

spikegirl7 wrote:Does it just stop a kid from walking into a store and buying an M rated game without a parent with them to approve or disapprove their purchase? Or does it mean his parent can be fined/penalized for providing it? Because quite frankly I have no problem with the first.
It essentially declared the ESRB's ratings incorrect and the self-regulation of the gaming industry (despite being better than that of film) to be worthless, and then set up an independent California government bureaucracy to declare which games were "too violent" for kids, and prevent the sale of those games.
But most game stores around here do that anyways (not Walmart, oddly enough) so it's a non-issue.
It is far easier for a kid to see an R-rated movie at a theater than to buy an M-rated game. Yet, California did not ban the sale of R-rated film tickets to minors. Video games were specifically targeted - and many of the examples weren't even retail games.
Frédéric Bastiat wrote:And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgment of faith in God and His works.
Count Axel Oxenstierna wrote:Dost thou not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed?

User avatar
collegestudent22
Crazy Person
Posts: 6886
Joined: Fri Jun 08, 2007 10:02 am
Gender: Male
Location: Gallifrey

Re: Video Games and the First Amendment

Post by collegestudent22 » Tue Jul 05, 2011 5:25 am

"Obscene" (i.e. sexually explicit) material still is restricted to adults. Yes, this is a peculiarity of American culture. However, in this particular case, Justice Breyer used roughly the same argument to say why we should just ban all kinds of speech "we" (i.e. politicians) don't like.
Frédéric Bastiat wrote:And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgment of faith in God and His works.
Count Axel Oxenstierna wrote:Dost thou not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed?

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests