[UPDATED with NMA Video:] Supreme Court Overturns State Ban on Sales and Rentals of Violent Video Games to Kids
Take Monday's U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning California's ban on sales or rentals of violent video games to children. Before the animation begins after the jump, the tattooed, live-action host makes a good point: kids playing violent video games is bad because the kids keeping beating adults at it . . .
Jo Linder-Crow, the state association's executive director, joined the law's author, state Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), at a press conference Monday reacting to the ruling. Then Assemblyman Lee's AB 1179, which the Legislature passed in 2005 and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law, prevented the sale and rental of violent video games "that depict serious injury to human beings in a manner that is especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel, to persons who are under 18 years of age." Retailers who violated the act faced $1,000 fines for each violation.
"We, like Senator Yee, are disappointed in the court's decision today," Linder-Crow said at the press conference. "The decision overlooks the volumes of psychological research that demonstrate that these violent video games can be harmful to children. We have been pleased to support Senator Yee's effort to protect children from the harmful effects of these games and applaud him for his efforts.
"Research has shown a causal connection between media violence and aggressive behavior in some children and it is certainly true that these violent games desensitize children towards violence in a way that is ultimately harmful to our society. We hope that the industry has heard this message and will increase efforts to keep these violent games out of the hands of children."
The Supreme Court voted 7-2, with Justices Stephen Breyer and Clarence Thomas in dissent, to uphold a federal court ruling that found California's restrictions on the sale of violent video games to minors violates the 1st Amendment.
Five justices found that under no circumstances can the government be allowed to protect children by limiting violence in the media, while Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito applauded California's effort to deal with a "serious social problem: the effect of exceptionally violent video games on impressionable minors." But they ultimately voted with the other seven to strike down the state's law because it did not spell out clearly enough the limits that the gaming industry must follow. in separate opinions.
The Lewisville, Texas-based Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI) says "striking down California's attempt to subject video games to different rules and regulations than books, movies, music or art is a victory in the battle to quell government's insatiable quest to seize greater control of individual freedoms, ending the expansion of government control of speech."
"This decision was also a victory for parents, 98 percent of whom support the current voluntary grading system applied to video game content--voluntary industry standards and the restriction of sales put in place by the video game industry, a system that has long been hailed in many quarters as the standard of industry responsibility and self-regulation," Bartlett D. Cleland, IPI's policy counsel, says in an IPI statement.
"Ultimately, no matter the layers of government control that hacks away at our guaranteed liberties, parental responsibility is the key," Cleland continues. "Virtually all credible research makes the same point: The key to protecting kids is a multilayered approach combining technology (which is already being deployed and available for free from entertainment software companies), law enforcement, caregiver oversight and private educational efforts such as the voluntary rating system."
UPDATE, JUNE 27, 11:01 A.M.: Common Sense Media, which the Los Angeles Times once called "one of the most zealous voices when it comes to encouraging state legislation limiting the sale of ultra-violent games to minors," is "disappointed" by today's U.S. Supreme Court decision on Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association. (Though then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the law banning the sale or rental of violent video games to children in California, the case is named after now-Gov. Jerry Brown because he was the state's attorney general at the time the video game trade association sued the state over the law.)
Common Sense Media CEO James Steyer issued the following statement in the wake of the Supremes' ruling:
Today's decision is a disappointing one for parents, educators, and all who care about kids. But the fight is far from over. Advocates for kids and families can work within the scope of this ruling to protect the best interests of kids. An overwhelmingly high percentage of parents would support a bill that would prevent their kids from walking into a store and buying the most ultra-violent and sexually violent of video games. That decision should be in the hands of parents, not kids or video game vendors, and certainly not the video game ratings board, which recently approved the Dead Space 2 ad campaign that clearly markets a Mature-rated game to kids.
We respectfully disagree with the Court when it comes to their analysis of the First Amendment rights of children and families--this is a sanity issue, not a censorship issue. If parents decide a violent game is okay for their kid, that's one thing, but millions of kids are not able to judge the impact of ultra-violence on their own. Today, the multi-billion dollar video game industry is celebrating the fact that their profits have been protected, but we will continue to fight for the best interests of kids and families. Moreover, we look forward to working with national and state policy makers on another common sense solution in the very near future.
Little Joey next door issued this reaction to Steyer while waiting for Soldier of Fortune Payback to load:
Then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in November asked the Supremes to weigh in on the law he'd signed that prohibited the sale or rental of violent games to anyone under 18 lest retailers face fines up to $1,000 for each infraction.
But the high court agreed with the Sacramento-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which found the law violated minors' rights under the First and Fourteenth amendments.
The Washington Post has the scoop.