Seth Schiesel of the New York Times seems to be channeling me in his piece yesterday entitled, “Courts Block Laws on Video Game Violence.”
As video games have surged in popularity in recent years, politicians around the country have tried to outlaw the sale of some violent games to children. So far all such efforts have failed. Citing the Constitution’s protection of free speech, federal judges have rejected attempts to regulate video games in eight cities and states since 2001. The judge in a ninth place, Oklahoma, has temporarily blocked a law pending a final decision. No such laws have been upheld.
(1) Video games are a form of expression protected by the First Amendment.
(2) Not a single court in America has supported the theory that a causal link exists between exposure to video games and real-world acts of actual violence.
(3) Parents have many less-restrictive means of dealing with underage access to potentially objectionable games—such as the industry’s private rating and labeling system, third-party ratings and info, console-based controls, and the fact that they don’t have to buy the games in the first place! [See my paper and book for more details on all these things.]
Unfortunately, that’s not going to stop other states from trying to regulate. As Schiesel points out,
New York will probably be the next state to try its chances in court. Gov. Eliot Spitzer has declared regulating children’s access to video games a priority. The State Assembly passed a game-regulation bill in June, and the Senate could take up the measure when the Legislature reconvenes as soon as next month. The New York bill has been phrased in an attempt to pass constitutional muster, but it will almost surely be challenged by the same game-industry legal team that has successfully opposed game regulations around the country.
You can bet the bank on it. And they will win again.