I believe it is vital that First Amendment rights be protected, and I further believe that doing so sometimes may require ruling in favor of speech that some group, even the majority, may perceive as having generally negative consequences.
Nonetheless, I was struck momentarily speechless at learning that the Supreme Court overwhelmingly (7-2) believes that banning minors from purchasing gratuitously violent video games is unconstitutional.
Justice Scalia, writing the majority opinion, says violent video games qualify for First Amendment protection. They “communicate ideas,” he asserts. Yes, they do, and so does graphic pornography. The question in this case should have been “What is the quality of the ideas communicated, and are those ideas healthy for children to consume?” These games allow players to occupy fantasy identities and torture, mutilate and kill various life forms, human and otherwise. It is well-known that the preponderance of gamers are male. It is significant, therefore, to note that at least one of these so-called games (somehow, the name doesn’t quite fit) involves the torture of a woman by a man.
Scalia pointed out that a good deal of popular children’s literature over the centuries has contained violent themes. “’Grimm’s Fairy Tales,’ for example, were grim indeed,” he wrote. The comparison is disingenuous.
Violent video games do violence to children. As such, responsible adults should prohibit them.
Many children are going to interpret the ruling to mean their parents have no say in the matter. If parents hold the line, refusing to allow that trash in their homes, can the child then appeal to the state? Sue his parents?
This could get complicated, even ugly. Things of this sort make me thankful that my wife and I raised our kids when the law never wavered from supporting the right of parents to control their children’s moral education.
A psychologist, Rosemond answers questions on his website at www.rosemond.com.