The U.S. Supreme Court should rule in favor of the First Amendment by striking down a California ban on violent video games.
VIOLENT video games can pack an aggressive punch to young psyches but parents and game industry-imposed age restrictions offer more protection than a ban.
The U.S. Supreme Court ought to agree and strike down California’s law imposing a fine of up to $1,000 for the sale or rental of a violent video game to anyone under age 18.
The three-year-old ban defines violent video games as those appealing to a deviant or morbid interest of minors, offending community standards and lacking “serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.”
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals saw through California’s attempt to be a purveyor of social taste and ruled against the ban. The appeals court said the state was asking it “to boldly go where no court has ever gone before.”
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And the Supreme Court cautioned last spring that the Constitution does not permit government to impose a restriction “simply on the basis that some speech is not worth it.”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the motion-picture industry have sided with the video-game industry. These groups see what we see: excessive regulation that could go beyond video games to restrictions on books, movies and Internet content.
None of this ought to dismiss concerns about violent video games and psychological harm. But not all social problems can be addressed with a ban.
Court justices heard arguments in Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association this month. More than a touch of irony is attached to the case’s name.
Irony aside, it is time to put an end to constitutional reviews and toss out California’s ban.