Does anyone on the U.S. Supreme Court have kids? How about grandkids, nieces, nephews, even neighbors with kids? I wonder.
In it’s final decision before adjourning for summer break the court struck down a California law intended to protect children from playing with video games that depict murder, maiming, rape and other forms of violence. In a gross perversion of First Amendment jurisprudence, one that probably has the Founding Fathers—all of whom were parents, reeling in their graves, a 7 to 2 majority said that the games are protected speech and can be freely sold to minors.
These are just a few of the games our Highest Court says our kids can have. “Manhunt 2,” which features a display of dismembered bodies and awards points to the player who can mutilate his victim most grotesquely; “Ethnic Cleansing,” in which the player selects a specific minority group then proceeds to gun down members of that race. “RapeLay,” in which the objective is to rape a mother and her daughters.
Writing for the majority Chief Justice Antonin Scalia a conservative Reagan era appointee said that the state’s “legitimate power to protect children from harm does not include “a free-floating power to restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed.”
In his opinion he mentioned Grimm’s fairy tales and Hansel and Gretel thus indicating that in the court’s eyes, today’s games are merely a digital extension of this tradition.
Is Judge Scalia off his rocker and what about the six other justices who concurred?
As a Mom of tween and teenaged boys, I’ve seen these games and they are horrible, even beyond horrible. Last summer, my sons got hold of GTA, Grand Auto Theft—one of the games the Court now protects. GTA is about crime, auto theft, prostitution and murder The soundtrack is a string of obscenities set to a rap beat.
Other than keeping my boys busy, by turning them into zombies (not a state I like to see my children or anyone else’s enter) I hated GTA. One afternoon, I got up my nerve and confiscated the game unleashing a tsunami of anger in my sons akin to the reaction one might get from addicts who are denied their fix. Lets face it, that is what I was doing. These games are drugs of a kind, highly addictive or “immersive,” in euphemistic gamer speak.
Research endorsed by the American Psychiatric Association indicates that these games lead to “an increase in aggressive behavior, physiological desensitization to violence, and decrease [in] pro-social behavior,”
Last year Craig Anderson, director of Iowa State University’s Center for the Study of Violence, authored a paper pointing to clear and convincing evidence that “media violence is one of the causal factors of real-life violence and aggression.”
So why did the Court strike down a law aimed at combating this scourge. According to the law’s author California Senator Leland Yee, who is by the way the senate’s only licensed child psychologist the reason was greed. According to Senator Yee, the Court has “once again put the interests of corporate America before the interests of our children.”
The impact of this decision will extend beyond California. The 11 other states—Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Texas, and Virginia—that submitted amicus briefs will find their options to restrict these games will be severely limited.
As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton herself a prominent opponent of these games, has famously said, “it takes a village to raise a child.” but that village has be aligned with that child’s best interests.
Right now thanks to the Supreme Court, the United States of America is not that village.