One of the unfortunate tasks for supporters of the First Amendment is that occasionally they’re obliged to stand up for it. Sometimes doing this doesn’t feel very good. Because sometimes it involves supporting creators and distributors of icky and odious ultra-violent movies and video games, which serve a termite-like function when it comes to diluting social-behavior standards that any morally decent society would want to stand by.
This is one thought, at least, in the wake of the Supreme Court having invalidated a California law banning the sale of violent video games to minors. The court said in a 7-2 ruling issued earlier today that the 2005 law violates the First Amendment.
“The State wishes to create a wholly new category of content-based regulation that is permissible only for speech directed at children,” the decision reads in part via TheWrap‘s Tim Molloy. “That is unprecedented and mistaken. This country has no tradition of specially restricting children’s access to depictions of violence.”
Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t the Supremes essentially saying that no venal video- game content can be legally kept out of the hands of children? And in rendering this decision aren’t they basically stating that even the disgusting and unconscionable Japanese video game RapeLay needs to be protected from moral guardians of the state?
I agree that the state can’t and shouldn’t mandate moral content in entertainment and art, but there’s something sickening about courts and lawmakers giving a free hall pass to the makers of this grotesque diversion.
Justices Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer dissented. I can’t believe I’m siding with Clarence Thomas.
“The law called for fining retailers up to $1,000 per game sold,” Molloy reports. “It covered games ‘in which the range of options available to a player includes killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being,’ if the violence is presented in a way that a ‘reasonable person, considering the game as a whole, would find appeals to a deviant or morbid interest of minors.’
“The law never took effect because lower courts in 2005 and 2007 also said it violated free speech rights. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, an enthusiastic backer of it, appealed it to the Supreme Court.”