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Supreme Court invalidates law banning sale of violent video games to minors
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Editor
June 27, 2011, 19:41:57
 
In a case decided today, the Supreme Court invalidated a California statute banning the sale of violent video games to minors. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority in a 7-2 decision and held that video games are protected speech under the First Amendment. Due to this constitutional protection, the law faced a heightened "strict scrutiny" standard, under which the state needs to show that a law is justified by a compelling government interest and that it is narrowly drawn to serve that interest. Since the state was unable to show the existence of a direct link between violent video games and violent actions by minors, and since the law did not seek to restrict access to other violent media, the law did not reach the necessary standard. The Court rejected the argument that the interactive nature of video games distinguishes it from other forms of violent media.

Source: 2011 WL 2518809 United States Supreme Court

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Posted: 06/27/11, 19:41:57  - Edited by 
 on: 06/27/11, 19:48:08    
 
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I'd like to actually read how they validated this. If you sell alcohol or tobacco to minors, you get fist fucked.


Posted by 
 on: 06/28/11, 00:19:33
@Oldmanwinter
Yeah, but cigarettes and alcohol don't talk. No talking means no free speech means no first amendment axes to grind. Problem solved.


Posted by 
 on: 06/28/11, 00:22:27
Yeah cigarettes and alcohol aren't protected under free speech. Although the tobacco and alcohol thing is a whole other can of worms.


Posted by 
 on: 06/28/11, 00:34:11
Anand said:
@chrisguy
Was that it? I remember reading something about Leland Yee's (?) proposed, vaguely-defined rating system. How could those guys even think they could win with that case?

Yeah. It's the same one.

Don't know how they thought they could win it. Frankly, I don't think they thought they could. I think it was more about scoring political points by showing they you're "tough on violent video games" than actually getting a good law passed.

...And after reading the SC opinion, they were even tougher on the law than the Appellate Court was. The majority opinion didn't even get into an analysis of vaguery. Rather, they simply said that protecting children from violent imagery and educating parents on video game content does not fall into the few exceptions in which governments can regulate free speech under the First Amendment. Thus the Court had to apply "strict scrutiny" to the law, which required California to show that they "narrowly tailored" a law to handle a compelling government interest, which California failed to do.

The concurring opinion by Alito and Roberts (who agreed with the results, but not the reasoning) generally followed the Appellate Court's reasoning that the law was too vague to be legally enforced. They disagreed with the majority and thought that a better crafted law might be allowable under the First Amendment. Thomas, in his dissent, said he doesn't believe the First Amendment applies to speech to children that doesn't first go through the children's parents. Breyer, in his dissent, essentially agreed with Alito and Roberts but thought that the statute was drafted well and was not too vague to be enforced.


Posted by 
 on: 06/28/11, 00:40:22
Oldmanwinter said:
I'd like to actually read how they validated this. If you sell alcohol or tobacco to minors, you get fist fucked.

Alcohol and tobacco are proven to be fucking horrible drugs that can and do kill people every day, and aren't a part of free speech at all.

Video games have absolutely no negative connotations associated with them proven because people are full of shit and just assume that because something is violent that little Timmy can't handle it, coddling little Timmy and making him ignorant, but that's a parent's job so they can do as they please.

But don't let the government parent for me. The government's job isn't to parent anybody. Games are protected by free speech, and aren't dangerous. Why would their sale be prohibited? There's no factual, scientific reason for it. If you don't think your kid should be able to buy Call of Duty... don't let him buy it. Don't rely on fucking game stores and the government to do it for you.


Posted by 
 on: 06/28/11, 03:23:32
@Xbob42

The things you watch/do at a young[ish] age mold your life.

Thats why kids today have filthy mouths, have no respect for authority, lie more, end up in jail sooner, do things far more stupid than years ago, and why kids are having babies alllll the freakin' time.


Its also how my enjoyment of adult films has made me an attentive and wonderful lover.


Posted by 
 on: 06/28/11, 03:31:25
@Mr_Mustache
If that's true about kids today, that's the fault of bad parenting, not lack of gov't regulations.


Posted by 
 on: 06/28/11, 03:34:01
Mr_Mustache said:
@Xbob42
The things you watch/do at a young[ish] age mold your life.

Thats why kids today have filthy mouths, have no respect for authority, lie more, end up in jail sooner, do things far more stupid than years ago, and why kids are having babies alllll the freakin' time.

No. You don't go out and get women pregnant because you watch a goddamn movie. You don't earn a lifetime probation sentence because you played Grand Theft Auto. Those are all directly because of parenting and what you do with your friends. You might swear more because you watch a lot of Comedy Central, but you're not going to kill more because you play Hitman 2, unless you were ALREADY going to kill someone.

There's a goddamn reason every study has come up inconclusive on the subject: Because any actual change from this media is too minor to follow.

The thought that because you see something... you also BECOME that something is a heinous and erroneous thought of middle-ages parenting that must be struck down and burned like the farce it is.


Posted by 
 on: 06/28/11, 03:38:22
@WrathOfSamus777

My parents didn't raise me bad at all. I dug around in the basement and unearthed some mags that had been hidden away. I found a tape, too, not like they're sitting out on the coffee table. And then the internet came along (I was about 16 or so). I guess most of my viewership was in my "adult" life.

Moral of the story: I know my way around solely because of that. Not a lot of field work prior.


--I'm not blaming the government for anything, but M rated games should be hand in hand with R rated games and smokes. If the parents allow it, then it shall be allowed. Kid A going to the mall with Kid B and his Mrs. B to buy a game that Mr and Mrs. A don't know about is wrong.

@Xbob42

No, -- good point -- you go out and get pregnant because MTV has shows like "16 and Pregnant" which glamorizes the whole thing and makes it look great to dumb girls. They let stupid boys inside of them who "don't like the way it feels" and thats that. Am I claiming the family has NOTHING to do with this? Absolutely not.

If you don't think that videogames at the very least desensitize you to certain subjects, you're crazy. The more realistic war games get, the more graphic they'll get, and if you're ever in that situation, you'll probably be more apt to do it without blinking an eye.

The ARMY came to recruit at my school one time. Guess what they brought along? A target practice videogame similar to Duck Hunt with a mounted M-16 (guessing) instead of an orange sidearm with a cord. Now what correlation could they possibly find there??...


Posted by 
 on: 06/28/11, 03:43:44  - Edited by 
 on: 06/28/11, 03:50:38
Mr_Mustache said:

@Xbob42

No, -- good point -- you go out and get pregnant because MTV has shows like "16 and Pregnant" which glamorizes the whole thing and makes it look great to dumb girls. They let stupid boys inside of them who "don't like the way it feels" and thats that. Am I claiming the family has NOTHING to do with this? Absolutely not.

If you don't think that videogames at the very least desensitize you to certain subjects, you're crazy. The more realistic war games get, the more graphic they'll get, and if you're ever in that situation, you'll probably be more apt to do it without blinking an eye.

The ARMY came to recruit at my school one time. Guess what they brought along? A target practice videogame similar to Duck Hunt with a mounted M-16 (guessing) instead of an orange sidearm with a cord. Now what correlation could they possibly find there??...

I respect the angle you're coming out, but what I'm interested in is proof. Solid proof. Not entirely irrefutable of course since that sort of stuff is pretty damned rare even when you have a lot of backing, but a couple of anecdotal scenarios hardly a convincing argument makes.

The army brought video games because kids like games more than lectures. How many kids in that class do you think went "MAN I BET SHOOTING PEOPLE IN REAL LIFE IS AS EXCITING AND HARMLESS AS IN VIDEO GAMES!"?

The answer is either almost none, or none at all, because kids aren't fucking idiots. I don't need a study to know that. But there are plenty out there.

It's not a simple "common sense" debate as lots of parents like to make it out as. "I don't let my son play GTA because he'll become violent!" is so irreversibly wrong and based on assumptions that come from fictional scenarios that it is BAFFLING that these people remain parents. Maybe you don't want your son to play GTA because for the most part it's tasteless, hell, there's a better argument.

Science can and is often proven wrong, mainly it proves itself wrong and auto-corrects like the seemingly autonomous beast it is. But there have been studies on correlations to video games and their effects on children since nearly the birth of games. The results have never wavered: It doesn't look like there's any effect at all, or if there is one, it's minor and largely inconsequential, because while children are impressionable, they are most likely to respond to two things: Their parents, and their friends. End of story.

It's more dangerous for kids to be in large groups of people than it is for them to play video games, far more. Because it's a proven fact that you become a sort of hive mind when in a large group of people. You put the group's priorities above your own and do things you normally wouldn't do so you can be part of this greater being. So maybe the government should ban people from gathering up!

Oh wait, that's something that is proven to make you potentially a violent idiot, and yet the government isn't blocking it. So maybe they shouldn't worry about far less harmful IF harmful AT ALL video games, yes?


Posted by 
 on: 06/28/11, 03:46:06  - Edited by 
 on: 06/28/11, 03:59:49
@Mr_Mustache
But Mr. and Mrs. A need to be keeping an eye on what their child is playing and how much they're playing. If they're oblivious and not paying attention to what their kid is playing because Kid A went to the store and bought a game they didn't know about without their knowledge with another adult, that's bad parenting.

If most of your viewership was in your adult life, that makes you responsible for your own actions then, since you're an adult. If you feel you have an addiction and you need help (I'm not saying you do, just for the sake of argument), you can get help if you choose to. But you have to make the choice for yourself.


Posted by 
 on: 06/28/11, 03:49:57  - Edited by 
 on: 06/28/11, 03:50:27
@Xbob42

Its up!

@WrathOfSamus777

No, I'm just saying that watching all of that stuff made me the Lothario I am today.
Thats proof alone that watching something can single handedly change you one way or another. I've probably been desensitized a little bit with all of that stuff, too, through the years.

I guess I could naturally know my way around everything? Doubtful though with all the stories of utter failure we hear. I mean, there are still adults out there (male and female) who don't know the locations of some very sensitive parts.

And no, haha, I'm not addicted. Thanks though.


Posted by 
 on: 06/28/11, 03:55:23
@Mr_Mustache
Has it changed you for the worse or for the better though? Has it made you kill or rape anyone? I'm guessing no. Watching Lord of the Rings and Passion of the Christ affected me too, but not negatively.


Posted by 
 on: 06/28/11, 03:57:45
@WrathOfSamus777

No, I haven't raped anyone. I don't watch a lot of violent stuff though. If I watched Basketball Diaries every day or Platoon, maybe it'd be different? I'm not a violent person by any means (I rarely even kill bugs) though.

Wrestling on TV expanded my vocabulary a little bit, definitely for the worse. I also put my sister in a Boston Crab a few times. I threw a Figure Four on my dad on the couch one time and made him cry. Fridge horror moment..


Posted by 
 on: 06/28/11, 04:01:03
Xbob42 said:
Oldmanwinter said:
I'd like to actually read how they validated this. If you sell alcohol or tobacco to minors, you get fist fucked.

Alcohol and tobacco are proven to be fucking horrible drugs that can and do kill people every day, and aren't a part of free speech at all.

Video games have absolutely no negative connotations associated with them proven because people are full of shit and just assume that because something is violent that little Timmy can't handle it, coddling little Timmy and making him ignorant, but that's a parent's job so they can do as they please.

But don't let the government parent for me. The government's job isn't to parent anybody. Games are protected by free speech, and aren't dangerous. Why would their sale be prohibited? There's no factual, scientific reason for it. If you don't think your kid should be able to buy Call of Duty... don't let him buy it. Don't rely on fucking game stores and the government to do it for you.


I really don't want to get into this argument with you. I don't have any problem with a state outlawing the sale of M rated content to pre-teens. If they want to get their mom or dad to buy it for them, that's up to the parents, I sure as hell don't think it's OK for Gamestop to be selling GTAIV to a ten year old. Which is what this is about.

And I also don't subscribe to the "Gamer's Theory" that watching and participating in excessively violent behavior doesn't impact you, especially when your mind is still developing. Once you are an adult and can differentiate that's one thing. A 9 or 10 year old though? Within what context is the violence being perceived? I think good parenting can nullify any and all of these problems, however to have the attitude that a child should be able to be exposed to whatever they want without any sort of negative impact and actually be insulted by people like myself who go "wait a minute, how about we don't allow the sale of incredibly violent and sexual material to children" is ridiculous.


Posted by 
 on: 06/28/11, 04:03:24  - Edited by 
 on: 06/28/11, 04:03:43
@Mr_Mustache
Hahaha. I used to put my little brother in figure-fours all the time.


Posted by 
 on: 06/28/11, 04:04:14
Oldmanwinter said:
Once you are an adult and can differentiate that's one thing. A 9 or 10 year old though? Within what context is the violence being perceived? I think good parenting can nullify any and all of these problems, however to have the attitude that a child should be able to be exposed to whatever they want without any sort of negative impact and actually be insulted by people like myself who go "wait a minute, how about we don't allow the sale of incredibly violent and sexual material to children" is ridiculous.

Maybe you don't want to buy your kid "incredibly violent material," based on whatever beliefs you hold as a parent.

That's fine.

But you shouldn't be impacting MY parenting with laws governing it. I think a good parent can tell which of their kids shouldn't be around what sort of material and would rather not have Big Brother doing the parenting for them, which is the biggest fucking insult of all, and why I applaud the Supreme Court on their decision which is based on logic and reason rather than Old Wive's Tales and boogey-man stories.


Posted by 
 on: 06/28/11, 04:24:49
Xbob42 said:
Oldmanwinter said:
Once you are an adult and can differentiate that's one thing. A 9 or 10 year old though? Within what context is the violence being perceived? I think good parenting can nullify any and all of these problems, however to have the attitude that a child should be able to be exposed to whatever they want without any sort of negative impact and actually be insulted by people like myself who go "wait a minute, how about we don't allow the sale of incredibly violent and sexual material to children" is ridiculous.

Maybe you don't want to buy your kid "incredibly violent material," based on whatever beliefs you hold as a parent.

That's fine.

But you shouldn't be impacting MY parenting with laws governing it. I think a good parent can tell which of their kids shouldn't be around what sort of material and would rather not have Big Brother doing the parenting for them, which is the biggest fucking insult of all, and why I applaud the Supreme Court on their decision which is based on logic and reason rather than Old Wive's Tales and boogey-man stories.


Huh? This has nothing to do with banning parenting skills. Nobody was saying a parent can't buy a ten year old God of War 3. What they were saying was if said ten year old wanted to walk in on his own, without parental supervision, unless he could prove he was old enough he couldn't buy it.

Call me crazy however I don't see a problem with that. I also don't see a problem with you buying your kid whatever you want, the parents will (or at least should) always know best. That however has absolutely zero bearing on this discussion.


Posted by 
 on: 06/28/11, 04:36:47
Oldmanwinter said:
Huh? This has nothing to do with banning parenting skills. Nobody was saying a parent can't buy a ten year old God of War 3. What they were saying was if said ten year old wanted to walk in on his own, without parental supervision, unless he could prove he was old enough he couldn't buy it.

Call me crazy however I don't see a problem with that. I also don't see a problem with you buying your kid whatever you want, the parents will (or at least should) always know best. That however has absolutely zero bearing on this discussion.

A child already has trouble buying an "adult" game, it has been proven they're harder to get a hold of than cigarettes, alcohol, even getting into an R-rated movie. The system works fine, why change it to outlaw it and screw with games? Personally I wouldn't see a problem with a kid walking in to buy it, if you're a good parent you'll spot it at some point or another or even better, know where your kids are. Even then, he could just play it at his friend's house, so the entire argument falls to pieces. Trying to supervise your child absolutely as an omnipotent presence, however (Instead of just being aware of where they generally go and who they hang out with and such.) doesn't work, and your continued diligence only makes little Timmy more curious. Next thing you know he has a mommy complex and is snorting crack off a hooker's ass. Well, that's how I turned out anyway.

I kid, I kid, but Ken Levine said it far more eloquently than I could:

Ken Levine said:
This was a terrible law to begin with. It could have effectively made ALL games M-rated games, because publishers would have been rightly nervous about "under-labeling" their titles and facing the wrath of the state (or, more precisely, states, because a California law would have no doubt spawned up to 49 deformed siblings). A cartoon plumber lands on top of an anthropomorphic mushroom and crushes it to death? Hmmm. Better label it "M".

This in turn would have discouraged the industry developing content for non-adults. Why bother, if you're just going to have to label it in a way which means it can't be sold to them? This would have the net effect of the industry under-serving children.

All of our freedoms derive from the right to express ourselves. The wonderful thing about speech is that is both powerless and omnipotent. The Emancipation Proclamation and Das Kapital are both simple collections of words. One led to the freeing of an entire race of people in one country. The other led to the effective enslavement of a population under a brutal dictator. But who has the vision to see where these collection of words lead? The greatness of the American experiment derives from the humility of the First Amendment. Why am I a better judge of where these collections of words lead than you are? I am not. Therefore, the law remains silent on them and lets the words take us where they will.

Today, the Court brought the medium we love fully into that circle of freedom. And we move forward empowered, but also with a sense of responsibility that words have meaning. So we as creators will choose our words with respect, understanding their power. But no law will have the authority to choose them for us.


Posted by 
 on: 06/28/11, 04:40:04  - Edited by 
 on: 06/28/11, 04:41:09
@Xbob42

Rofl. Show me the study that says it's harder for a pre-teen to get alcohol than it is to get the newest Call of Duty.

In fact don't. That's so ridiculous I don't care what blog you quote I'm not going to believe it's factual.

As to Ken Levine the guy has a proven, vested interest in not diminishing the number of people that can buy his products. He is obviously very talented and respected, I wont deny that however he has a horse in the race that is worth millions. I really put about as much stock in his opinion on this as I would a card carrying NAMBLA member ranting about the restrictive laws regarding child pornography... and yes that's a horrible example however it made me giggle when I typed it.


Posted by 
 on: 06/28/11, 04:46:18
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