Video Games facing Supreme Court review

The US Supreme Court will hear an appeal about a law restricting video game sales.

Two weeks ago, the United States Supreme Court announced that it would hear an appeal of the California ban on sales of certain “violent” video games to anyone under 18 years of age.

This case is very likely to turn on a decision about First Amendment protections of free speech.  On the one hand, this is a good thing, given that none of these types of laws has ever been upheld as Constitutional.  (At last check, video game and First Amendment advocates were 13-0 against overzealous legislators.)  Additionally, this Court recently held that it is perfectly legal to profit from video sales of animal snuff films (US v. Stevens, 08-769).

The scary part, however, is that this is also a Court that does not really understand current technology, as demonstrated in the questioning (on the same day) during City of Ontario v. Quon, when some of the Justices asked basic information about how text pagers work.  Further, recent Courts (with the same core Justices) have not been reluctant to modify the law of the land based on politics rather than law.

It is a crap shoot and we will have to wait until October for the case (Schwarzenegger, Governor of California v. Entertainment Merchants Association, 08-1448) to be heard, and probably even longer before a decision is announced.

In a recent opinion piece, The New York Times agrees that the law is unconstitutional, concluding that, “The Constitution, however, does not require speech to be ideal for it to be protected.”  Bingo!

Click on the banner below to join a free organization that informs citizens of these kinds of threats to free speech, and specifically to video games being treated differently from other forms of expressive media and entertainment, including films, books, and music.

If you are not easily offended, see this related piece of satire from the Onion. [warning: NSFW!]

Poll: Almost nobody disagrees with not regulating video games.

Earlier this month, U.S. News & World Report posted an opinion poll [still open for votes as of this writing] on its web site, using the misleading title, Violent Video Games: Should Kids Be Able to Buy Them? Of course, the poll question is “Should Kids Not Be Sold Violent Video Games?” which elicits an opposite response from the poll title.

Whether by a deliberate and hamfisted attempt to manipulate the results, or just utter incompetence, the confusing wording opens the results up to interpretation.  More than 70% answered the question correctly, and I estimate that 90% of the other respondents misread the question (missing the “Not” or simply answering the headline), so I place lamina in buccinator and conclude that more than 97% of the public oppose video game regulation.

Take that!  (I can be just as unscientific as the “mainstream” press.)

4 thoughts on “Video Games facing Supreme Court review

  1. Editor’s note: I originally made a typographical error on the Supreme Court case number of Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants; “08-1448″ is correct.

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