Monday, June 27, 2011

Supreme Court: Video Games protected by 1st Amendment (7-2)

Several years ago, California decided to that violent video games deserved the same, limited free speech protection as pornography.

Not movies and books, though, its perfectly fine for those to be violent. Just video games. Why? Cause they're "interactive"!

I often, just as soon as I get done banging my head on the nearest hard object, wonder if anyone who calls a video game "interactive" has ever played one.

Here's the thing: when I was 13 or so, I saw Godfather for the first time, and saw Sonny get riddled with bullets.

Many years later, when I played Fallout and riddled dudes with bullets, it was not somehow given a huge impact because I pressed "X" first.

Anyway, onto the Supremes decision, which has lots of good stuff idiots like Leland Yee really need to accept:

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.

BOOM. Right out of the gate. These are literally the first words of the decision. There's nothing going on in a video game that isn't going on in a movie. If a video game makes you want to shoot up your school, then Hamlet should make you want to kill your stepdad, and let's not even begin to discuss Oedipus Rex.

But, but, video games are interactive remember?

This country has no tradition of specially restricting children’s
access to depictions of violence. And California’s claim that
“interactive” video games present special problems, in that the player
participates in the violent action on screen and determines its outcome,
is unpersuasive.
I particularly like the bit about our country not really having as a core tenet restricting children's access to violence. I mean, has Leland Yee ever seen a cartoon or an episode of Power Rangers?

And then, the really awesome nail in the coffin:

Because the Act imposes a restriction on the content of protected
speech, it is invalid unless California can demonstrate that it
passes strict scrutiny, i.e., it is justified by a compelling government
interest and is narrowly drawn to serve that interest.

California cannot meet that standard. Psychological
studies purporting to show a connection between exposure
to violent video games and harmful effects on children do not prove
that such exposure causes minors to act aggressively.

Any demonstrated effects are both small and indistinguishable from effects produced
by other media. Since California has declined to restrict those
other media, e.g., Saturday morning cartoons, its video-game regulation
is wildly underinclusive, raising serious doubts about whether
the State is pursuing the interest it invokes or is instead disfavoring
a particular speaker or viewpoint.
Again, I say, BOOM. Video games are no more harmful than TV (which isn't harmful at all). To attempt this sort of legislation on video games and not TV or movies is singling video games out. Something that's rather frowned upon under the 1st amendment.

Now I know idiots like Leland Yee aren't going to be deterred. We've been down this road before. I mean, the Puritans were wringing their hands over Romeo and Juliet a few hundred years ago.

But once again, the reality-based contingent of society has stepped forward to once again affirm that human beings are not empty vessels, waiting to be filled. They do not see someone shoot up a school and decide, on the basis of that work of art to go do it themselves.

I realize why this idea appeals to politicians- it might just mean that they're not completely full of shit. But once again, we have affirmed that they are.

If you'd like to read the whole thing.

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