There was hot news this week that affects all of us coming from the Supreme Court. In a 7-2 ruling, they said that the sale and rental of violent video games to minors is protected under the First Amendment.
While thinking about this, I have to admit some of my opinions contradict themselves. As a parent, I feel it is my responsibility to protect my children from what I consider evils in the world. I would classify maiming people and raping women as being evil which is exactly what you have to do with characters in certain video games in order to get them to “power up” and continue the game. The entire concept of some of these games just seems wrong.
The majority opinion was written by Justice Antonin Scalia. It said in part “like protected books, plays, and movies that preceded them, video games communicate ideas and even social messages.”
If I had the power to sit down with a member of the court, I would bring up two things. Keep in mind though that I am not a constitutional scholar (and I don’t play one on TV). The first thing I would bring up is a movie/documentary called Faces of Death (produced in the late 70’s I believe). Basically, the movie was real life death in various capacities. It was brutally graphic and subsequently banned in 40+ countries including the United States. This was before the internet so, of course, there are ways to purchase it now but that’s beside the point. My question is why wouldn’t that movie have the same first amendment protection as the violent video games?
The second point of emphasis/question I would raise to the courts is this. Why is it illegal for a minor to purchase magazines such as Playboy or Penthouse? Why wouldn’t those publications fall under the same first amendment protections? I’m not saying I want my children to be allowed to purchase Miss July’s naked photos. I just do not understand the difference.
The thing about video games this. In order to play, a person isn’t a passive observer as he/she would be watching Faces of Death or staring at a naked person in a magazine. In order to play violent video games, the person playing has to have the character do the raping, maiming, or killing. This is an extremely important difference in my opinion. Today’s video games are incredibly graphic and realistic. This is a very serious topic no matter what side of the fence you fall.
The Supreme Court is designed to be the ultimate judicial body. I fully respect the court’s decision. Regardless, this decision means I will have to continue to be as vigilant a parent as possible. I will most likely be making some unpopular decisions with my children and even appear to be a jerk because I won’t allow them to do what some of their friends do. But wait- doesn’t that happen already?
In order to effectively deal with this problem, an open line of communication with your child is critical. I would also suggest those who have video gaming systems to rent the games in question and play one night after the kids got to bed. I believe you will have a clearer understanding of the games and the challenges they potentially pose.
Please, if you liked this post, pass it around to neighbors and friends. Don’t pretend everyone keeps up with the Supreme Court. This is an important issue and I need your help to get the message out to people who would like to listen. Your time is greatly appreciated!
The next post will be written on Tuesday. Have a fun and safe weekend with the fireworks!
I would also like to thank the following websites. Their information was very valuable.