The Supreme Court Rules Video Games Protected by Free Speech

A California law that would prohibit the sale of “violent” video games to minors has been struck down by the Supreme court (7-2), after being deemed an unconstitutional violation of free speech. This ruling came after strong arguments from both side were weighed and considered.

Arguments against the law included current restrictions on selling certain movies to minor due to nudity or strong language that warrants R or NC-17 ratings. If these restrictions can be made on movies, why wouldn’t they apply on video games that feature decapitation and torture?

Justice Clarence Thomas argued that free speech, as used in the constitution, doesn’t apply to minors and therefor the law doesn’t actually violate this code. Some of his stronger points include various points where founding fathers (including Thomas Jefferson) had indicated parents had control over their children’s speech and therefor the rules of free speech do not apply to them.

The majority, however, shared the viewpoints that America as a country has no longstanding tradition of blocking children from violent content, and therefor it would be unfair to impose such a strong restriction now. In addition, the current ratings system, managed by the ESRB, are already in place to give parents a clear indication as to the level of graphic content present in a game.

Looking back throughout the history of mankind, it is hard to say that violent literature, video games, or other forms of entertainment have actually had any real bearing on the level of violence we see in society. Some of the most violent and dangerous countries in the world have populations with little or no access to some of the most violent video games our youth are exposed to regularly.

Humans have been violent for as long as they have been around, dating back to centuries (and possibly much longer) before recorded history. Violence, while not a good thing, has been a part of human culture since the beginning, and it would be short-sighted to place the blame of any and all acts of violence by youth on pixels.

What do you think? Do video games cause violence?