OUR VIEW: Court right on violent video games

Jun 28 2011 - 9:52pm

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Girls gone wild over parenting
Girls gone wild over parenting

Seven justices on the U.S. Supreme Court were absolutely correct in telling the state of California that it can't step in and regulate the rental or sale of violent video games to kids. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote a majority opinion that expressed the opinions of five justices, stated it very clearly by reminding California that government should not "restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed."

Indeed, that is a job for parents, guardians and other role models, not "big nanny" in the role of a state or other public, tax-funded power.

Scalia and the majority of justices were also right by asserting that there is no history of children being restricted in access to depictions of violence, unlike pornography, which has a history of regulation. In his opinion, Scalia wryly noted that the traditional versions of fairy tales include violence, including Cinderella's sisters having their eyes pecked out by doves, and Snow White being forced to dance until she is dead while wearing very hot slippers.

These violent accounts are mostly excluded in film and stage productions by private companies which adapt these famous tales in the public domain.

That bit of self-censorship is appropriate given that these are private firms risking their own money rather than government, which spends our tax dollars.

To put it bluntly, this was a freedom of speech issue. Had California been successful in its effort to ban parental decisions on what kind of games they allow their children to use, it would have been another example of government encroaching on our personal freedoms. That is not the role of government.

In an ironic twist, the Supreme Court upheld the Ninth Circuit Court's reversal of the California law. The Ninth Circuit, a notoriously left-wing court, has a reputation of almost always being overturned by the high court on controversial cases. This time, the Ninth Circuit, and the high court, are correct.

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