SCOTUS Decision Focus of Public Radio Discussion

Southern California Public Radio yesterday aired a 30-minute segment (MP3) on the California violent videogame law that will be discussed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

California State Senator Leland Yee appeared, and voiced much of the same opinions that he offered up through a mini-podcast his camp released yesterday. Representing the other side was Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) VP of Public Affairs Sean Bersell.

Bersell framed the current drama as he sees it:

The lower court opinions in this case, just followed long-standing Supreme Court precedence, that found that these kinds of restrictions are unconstitutional as a violation of the First Amendment. They are perfectly in accord with the Constitution.

This is a content-based restriction. Content-based restrictions are presumptively invalid under the First Amendment.

The show’s host then posed a hypothetical question about a violent game, which also featured extreme sexual content, and asked if the law would be on the side of keeping that material out of the hands of kids.

Bersell answered:

Sexual content is a unique area of the law. An exception to the First Amendment has been carved out for obscene material or for material that’s obscene for minors. Some material that may be protected by the First Amendment is not permissible for minors. If it’s patently offensive to what the community thinks is appropriate for minors… all sexual thresholds… The court has consistently said that obscenity law is restricted to sex.

What this law tries to do is to cab an obscenity law on to violence and to create a sort of violence as obscenity law. And the courts have been consistent that obscenity law is for sexual expression only and not for other types of expression like violence.

Another part of the broadcast had Yee, a child psychologist, explain why "cause and effect" studies are difficult to undertake. "In a free society, you can’t do the kinds of studies that the opposition of my bill is asking for," stated Yee. "You can’t randomly select individuals and put them in one experimental group whereby they have to play these violent videogames."

The host then interjected, “That would be abusive for the kids…” To which Lee replied, “Exactly.”

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  1. 0
    TBoneTony says:

    I also remember that there is just one flaw with Anderson’s research…

    They only let their ‘experiments’ play one violent videogame and one non violent videogame…

    And sometimes the violent videogame is more fun and the non violent videogame is often a boring puzzle game or something like that…

    Really…REALLY…not a good way of conducting a true experiment,

    Psychologists need to realize that when you are looking at videogames, you need to pick videogames from multiple genres.


    Here is a simple test…


    divide games up into different categories and then split them into less violent and more violent groups for different genres.


    lets say…


    more violent platform game to less violent platform game.

    more violent RPG to less violent RPG (remember to use either both Western RPGs or both Japanese RPGs to make sure you get the genre’s right)

    more violent racer to less violent racer.

    more violent sports game to less violent sports game (if realistc for one then realistic it has to be for the other)

    more violent fighter to less violent fighter.

    more violent shooter to less violent shooter.

    more violent sandbox game to less violent sandbox game.

    more violent puzzle game to less violent puzzle game.

    more violent strategy game to less violent stragety game.

    singstar with explicit lyrics to singstar with mildly expicit lyrics 

    You also need to define what is violent and non violent and you also need to define what is agression and what is just playful fun between kids.

    You also need to make sure…that you have games from different consoles and even PCs to measure the PC gamers as well as including handhelds…

    And have at least 100 kids grouped into each of those categories and only comment on their behaviour around other kids in their group and also their opponent group that they are tested against.

    You also need to seperate them amongst male and female children and from age groups from 5, to 10 to 15 and also a bit inbetween them.

    You also need to consider their opinions on how they felt after they played the game…and not try to change them to suit your own bias view.

    I think I have covered the lot…uh?


    I think that the only person to do research THAT size would be Dr Cheryl Olson, I don’t think that Craig Anderson would ever WANT to cover videogames that far…he only wants to do what is simple for him to do and not about what is fair for research.


  2. 0
    TBoneTony says:

    Ok, so that is a bad way of giving a kid a GTA game…

    Thank god that they can’t find any copies of a certain Japanese game then…or else we would really be up a river without a paddle.

    But yeah, it is horrible how people will simply buy an M17+, MA15+ or 18 rated game to a kid and try to smear the gaming industry and retailers…it could have easily been the reporter giving the kids the game and the retailer not realizing that they were being targeted.

    Besides, there are better ways of doing this, talk to the gamers who have played mature rated games when they were younger and ask them to give their views of how gaming has impacted on their lives for better or for worse without trying to alter their words…


  3. 0
    Bennett Beeny says:

    Nice job, NPR host (sarcastic).

    My wife works for NPR so I have a little pro-NPR bias, but winning Yee’s argument for him was not NPR’s finest moment.

    ‘Abuse’ in terms of playing violent games has yet to be shown. That’s why the debate is still a debate. If violent games were abusive they would be banned from kids, like porn.

  4. 0
    Rodrigo Ybáñez García says:

    "You can’t randomly select individuals and put them in one experimental group whereby they have to play these violent videogames."
    The host then interjected, “That would be abusive for the kids…” To which Yee replied, “Exactly.”

    Convenient, don´t you think?

    ———————————————————— My DeviantArt Page (aka DeviantCensorship):

  5. 0
    TBoneTony says:

    Thanks for letting me know about the eveness of the debate.

    I often sometimes am surprized how Diane was able to seperate the two sides so they won’t interupt eachother…so I do believe that is a good thing.

    One thing I often worry about, is that they only seem to focus on today’s kids and today’s teenagers but they hardly ever focused on the past generation of kids or the past generation of teenagers who have played with games like Doom who played games in the early 90s…

    The Interactivity Vs the Passive aspect of the media that seperates the Videogames from the movies, books and music is always going to be something that most anti-gamers will bring up.

    What us pro-gamers should try to combat that with knowlage and sensible both with knowlege of the medium and also with the experience of playing them.

    We also have to define what agression is, as well as seperating what is just fun and what is serious.

    There is also allot of contradiction, contradiction of opinions and to be honest, you need to focus on seeing the evidence, and not really on here-say as what does happen allot on radio interviews…

    they say there are studies that show the long term effects, but they never do SHOW what the effects were or even get down into the depths of getting to SEE what happens…

    Things and arguments like this are an absolute waste of time in people’s lives worrying about if it was or if it wasn’t a real threat of violence videogames and violence in society.

    What does need to happen, if this bill gets turned down from the surprime court, then this debate should be dead in the water and Yee should just focus on REAL violence instead of videogame violence knowing that there is no way to seperate Violent Videogames from Freedom of Speech because the surprime court’s word is final, free speech is free speech whether some people like it or not. Even the Bible is free speech even though it has been mentioned to be the cause of allot of violence in the world without any real proof attached to those arguments. Whether Yee would ever understand that…I think he has wasted a good 10 or 15 years of his life worrying about the violence issue when in reality Videogames have come a long way from the Night trap, Doom and Mortal Kombat.

    Like seriously, Grand Thef Auto has been around for more than 10 years…and no matter how good the graphics are you can’t even say whether the realism makes a violent game worse or not.

    I am still a little sad about the sexual content not being able to have the same freedom of speech as violent content, because it does not make sence that what is the action that makes us all human such as sex would be banned or refused from freedom of speech when all other things do have freedom of speech but sexual content does not have that same sort of freedom of speech and has to go though allot of bull from faking it, or using hopelessly fake sexual organs just to avoid the law that legislate against it.


    Thank god we have the PC market as well as Japan who have different views on things like that, or else we would have a really boring world.

  6. 0
    jccalhoun says:

    No the other two people were someone from the ESA and one of the authors of Grand Theft Childhood (the book that said videogames weren’t bad). I would have liked to have seen more of an attack and Yee got away with claiming they use videogames to desensitize soldiers but it was pretty even other than that and Rehm even got Anderson to admit that despite all his chicken little claims of "aggression! aggression!" that actually going so far as to committ actual violence was very rare.



  7. 0
    TBoneTony says:

    Was this a one sided show?

    because if it was then I don’t really want to watch a group of people bashing violent videogames in the name of their research.

  8. 0
    TBoneTony says:

    Also, I would like to see the evidence that tried to say that Porn was harmful to minors, and what sort of research methods that they used.

    It is highly more likely that the laws that prevent sexual content from being protected by the 1st Admendment are made up by nothing but opinion  based on the fear of what the damage they could have done if they did try to have a group of kids watch porn.

    And like, if you were to gather any evidence, talk to real children who have watched porn and just listen to their responces no matter if they are for or against your beliefs….

    Also interview them as they get older and then ask them if watching porn was a negative or positive effect on their childhood.

    It may be just that these laws against sexual content and violent content are nothing but a fear factor that plays on society’s beliefs but do not really represent what is real or what goes on in reality.


  9. 0
    TBoneTony says:

    I would rather question some of their comments…

    Such as, if it was a belief that it would be harmful for kids to eat chocolate, then all psychological studies would have to put kids though simulated ‘çhocolate’ in order to come up with conclusions…

    Like…just replace the word eat and chocolate with play and ultra violent videogames, and just see how such conclusions and research methods that these child psychologists try to do, like not wanting kids to play violent videogames when in reality if they were really wanting to have an experiment to PROVE that violent videogames DO cause violence in real life, they would have to have REAL kids play violent videogames in the first place in order to make an accurate conclusion…

    All these studies, that have had kids hit bobo dolls, people giving eachother electric shocks, and everything under the sun just to prove that violent videogames cause violence in real life is nothing but a waste of time, because all they are doing is  hypotheticly comming to conclusions where in reality psychologists like Cheryl Olson and co have instead talked to the kids and also the parents and did a summary of their opinions and responses and looked at the kids school behaviour record even though their own studies have not came close to prove that violent videogames affect kids in a negative way, they have shown that many kids get stressed over violence in the news but are unaffected when it comes to violence in videogames.

    So in my conclusion, I would feel that the research that tries to say that violence in videogames and other entertainment media is perhaps looking in the wrong areas to point the blame of society ills on videogames, and have never really talked to the kids and got their information all because they don’t want to be proven wrong.



  10. 0
    Zero Beat says:

    He is right, though.  They’d have to find a large group of kids from similar backgrounds (family life, type of neighborhood, socio-economic status) and then divide the kids in such a way that they have a group of kids play only extremely violent games, kids that only play non-violent games, kids that only play moderately violent games, kids that play no games at all, and a control group that plays games normally, and then see what, if any, differences there are for kids in any of the groups.

    Good luck getting enough kids to volunteer for the "no games at all" group – in this day and age, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in this country under the age of 40 that has never played video games outside of Amish communities.


    "That’s not ironic. That’s justice."

  11. 0
    Zerodash says:

    "In a free society, you can’t do the kinds of studies that the opposition of my bill is asking for," 

    Yee must feel he is doing "the opposition" a favor then, since he and his ilk are working hard to create a non-free society.  ALL HAIL THE MIGHT NANNY-STATE!!

  12. 0
    Father Time says:

    They don’t get to decide what gets an AO rating, the ESRB does.

    —————————————————- Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

  13. 0
    MaskedPixelante says:

    And who gets to decide what is considered as ultra violent? Would cartoonish violence that doesn’t show the consequences of getting beaten up be on the same level as watching Kratos cave a guy’s skull in?

    —You are likely to be eaten by a Grue.

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