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The Courts Your Rights Online

US Supreme Court: Video Games Qualify For First Amendment 458

Wrath0fb0b writes "The United States Supreme Court threw out a California law prohibiting the sale of violent video games to minors. Notable in the opinion is a historical review of the condemnation of "unworthy" material that would tend to corrupt children, starting with penny-novels and up through comic books and music lyrics. The opinion is also notable for the odd lineup of Justices that defies normal ideological lines, with one conservative and one liberal jurist dissenting on entirely different grounds. In the process, they continue the broad rule that the First Amendment does not vary with the technological means used: 'Video games qualify for First Amendment protection. Like protected books, plays, and movies, they communicate ideas through familiar literary devices and features distinctive to the medium. And the basic principles of freedom of speech... do not vary with a new and different communication medium.'"
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US Supreme Court: Video Games Qualify For First Amendment

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  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Monday June 27, 2011 @12:27PM (#36585334)

    The middle one should be.

  • by BlaKnail ( 545030 ) <blindspot @ n imh.net> on Monday June 27, 2011 @12:40PM (#36585558)
    Breyer's dissent has a bit of nice reasoning in it, actually.

    "But what sense does it make to forbid selling to a 13-year-old boy a magazine with an image of a nude woman, while protecting a sale to that 13 year-old of an interactive video game in which he actively, but virtually, binds and gags the woman, then tortures and kills her? What kind of First Amendment would permit the government to protect children by restrict- ing sales of that extremely violent video game only when the woman—bound, gagged, tortured, and killed—is also topless? This anomaly is not compelled by the First Amendment. It disappears once one recognizes that extreme violence, where interactive, and without literary, artistic, or similar justification, can prove at least as, if not more, harmful to children as photographs of nudity. And the record here is more than adequate to support such a view. That is why I believe that Ginsberg controls the outcome here a fortiori. And it is why I believe California’s law is constitutional on its face. "

    Basically, the court had previously ruled that it's ok to ban porn sales to children, and the court is generally bound to prior rulings unless overturned by new legislation. The logic used to ban pornography sales to kids still applies to this case. Not saying it's a good law, but Breyer's position makes a lot of sense.
  • by nschubach ( 922175 ) on Monday June 27, 2011 @12:49PM (#36585726) Journal

    There are some "conservatives" (I'll call them the Glenn Beck inspired conservative) that feel that the intent of this country was as a "Word of the Bible" following Christian country with all morals and values enforced.

    Ironically, it would make The Constitution the most hypocritical document ever written... but that's not part of their thought process.

  • by Skarecrow77 ( 1714214 ) on Monday June 27, 2011 @12:53PM (#36585774)

    The answer to that is easy, if unpopular:
    Your "right to live" exists solely by your ability to defend it.

    You have the same "right to live" as anybody or anything else, which is none.

    We live in a civilized society, where we have negotiated out most of the anarchist might-makes-right tendencies of our forefathers, but you walk down the wrong dark alley on the wrong night and those negotiations mean jack squat.

    so, to answer your two riddles, the vampire and the renal patient have absolutely no right at all to your blood/organs, nor do they have a "right" to continue living either, but they certainly might make the attempt to continue living at your expense, hopefully (well, from your PoV anyway) you can stop them.

  • by oneiros27 ( 46144 ) on Monday June 27, 2011 @01:19PM (#36586210) Homepage

    You gotta love supreme court opinion that reference both Lord of the Flies:

    California's argument would fare better if there were a longstanding tradition in this country of specially restricting children's access to depictions of violence, but there is none. Certainly the books we give children to read--or read to them when they are younger--contain no shortage of gore. ... And Golding's Lord of the Flies recounts how a schoolboy called Piggy is savagely murdered by other children while marooned on an island.

    ...and 'Pick a Path' / 'Choose Your Own Adventure' type books:

    California claims that video games present special problems because they are "interactive," in that the player participates in the violent action on screen and determines its outcome. The latter feature is nothing new: Since at least the publication of The Adventures of You: Sugarcane Island in 1969, young readers of choose-your-own- adventure stories have been able to make decisions that determine the plot by following instructions about which page to turn to.

    And understands the difference between causation and correlation:

    The State's evidence is not compelling. California relies primarily on the research of Dr. Craig Anderson and a few other research psychologists whose studies purport to show a connection between exposure to violent video games and harmful effects on children. These studies have been rejected by every court to consider them,6 and with good reason: They do not prove that violent video games cause minors to act aggressively (which would at least be a beginning). Instead, "[n]early all of the research is based on correlation, not evidence of causation, and most of the studies suffer from significant, admitted flaws in methodology." [] They show at best some correlation between exposure to violent entertainment and minuscule real-world effects, such as children's feeling more aggressive or making louder noises in the few minutes after playing a violent game than after playing a nonviolent game.7

  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Monday June 27, 2011 @02:15PM (#36587034) Journal

    I see no reason why a state may not place age restrictions on video games.

    Because children have first amendment rights too. The fact that you can't see this is why conservatives are so fucking scary.

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN