No Shortage of Opinions on Brown v. EMA Decision

June 30, 2011 -

Hey GPers!  Up for some opinions on the recent Supreme Court decision that gave Leland Yee’s violent video game law the Kuribo Boot?

Grand Theft Childhood co-author Cheryl Olson wrote in the New York Times that “the most harmful assumption in the California law is that we know enough about the effects of video games to recommend policy solutions.”  More research needs to be done and we need to be “willing to consider that video games may have potential benefits as well as potential risks.”

Delaware Online finds some of the most violent games “anti-social and repugnant” but agrees with the ruling.  While the publication encourages parents to keep those games away from kids, it doesn’t “encourage legislators to make laws to enforce our views on responsible parenting.”

George Mason University senior researcher Adam Thierer (a name that has popped up on GP several times) writes at the Technology Liberation Front that Leland Yee and Common Sense Media’s James Steyer showed poor form “claiming that just because many of us (or the Courts) do take these rights and responsibilities seriously that it somehow means we don’t care about our children or that we only believe these things in order to make corporations happy.”

First Amendment attorney Steven Helle opines at the Chicago Tribune that “much speech is protected that is not wholesome or uplifting. The court was merely saying that the choice as to whether to engage in or receive such speech should be made by us, not by government.”

A Taiwan news show I’ve never heard of (but might check out in the future) uses computer animation to detail the Court’s decision.  Justices with machine guns.  Yeah, watch it.

G4’s Adam Sessler posted a 15-minute Soapbox covering his thoughts.

IGN has supportive statements from several big name industry folks.  Grand Theft Auto publisher Take-Two’s Strauss Zelnick said, “We are pleased with the decision… which reaffirms that freedom of artistic expression is protected by our Constitution… With that said, we take our social responsibilities seriously, and are committed to producing and marketing our entertainment products in strict accordance with our industry's guidelines.”

Want to hear from someone who doesn’t agree with the ruling?  We haven’t seen that many but the Washington Post called the Court’s decision “misguided” and that “the diminished threat of government intervention should in no way impede efforts to keep the most violent games out of the hands of children.”

The Parents Television Council went so far as to “denounce” the Supreme Court's ruling.  “We will continue to use all the resources within our power to call out unscrupulous retailers. If the federal courts won’t stand for parents, then we hope the court of public opinion will.”

For something a bit different, check out legal scholar Garret Epps’ analysis of Justice Thomas’s dissent over at The Atlantic.  “Justice Thomas's dissent… provides a revealing window in the limits (if that is the term) of the "originalist" methodology… [It] should stand, for a while, as the most egregious example of this voices-in-my-head originalism. Indeed, one could go further and point to it as an example of how "originalism" can become entirely unmoored from reality and drift dangerously toward what Newt Gingrich might once have called "right-wing social engineering.""

And that’s just a mere fraction of the dozens of opinions we’ve seen.  Thanks to the GP ShoutBox community, especially BearDogg-X, for many of these links.

Image: GU Comics

Disclosure: I freelance for IGN

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Contributing Editor Andrew Eisen


Comments

Re: No Shortage of Opinions on Brown v. EMA Decision

The Parents Television Council is just upset that they can't go after video game retailers as easily as they can with channels that brodcast tv shows that they dislike. You know, convincing sponsors to pull advertising on shows they disagree with in hopes they will lose the funding the show needs to stay on the air. Can't do that with videogames, so all they can do is bitch, whine, and moan.

 - W

Consumer responsibility is just as important as Corporate responsibility.

Re: No Shortage of Opinions on Brown v. EMA Decision

I think this ruling is great and everything but what people need to be aware of is with just one more vote it could have gone the other way. Two of the seven votes against the law would potentially have voted for a more narrow version of it.

Thats 4 votes right now for a more narrow law. So you only need one more. Judge Ginsberg has stated herself that she will retire for the next President. And I think its important to be straignt about this even if it comes off as poltical: 3 Democrat nominated judges voted agsint the law (two by Obama), 1 Republican (Scalia) did, the other no vote was Kennedy, and although he was nominated by Reagan that was only after a Democratic congress forced him to nominate someone more moderate instead of Robert Bork.

3 Republican nominated judges voted either for a more naroow version of the law or for it as is, just 1 Democrat nominated judge did. 

And if it was sex or nudity in video games we probably would have lost. Scalia, although good on violence and some other 1st Amend issues, is terrible on anything sexual.

I guess what Im sayng in short is, if Obama loses and the Republian nominee (Romney?) wins, this ruling could be overturned at some time in near the future. And for sex and nudity thered probably be no chance of winning at all. Or at least that would be mroe likely if the Republican wins than it would be if Obama does.


 

Re: No Shortage of Opinions on Brown v. EMA Decision

Usually if the Supreme Court says something is unconstitional, there aren't alot of efforts to get around it, the main ones that keep coming up are because the Party(ies) as a whole decided to use them as crowbars to beat people upside the head with. I don't see that happening in this case, there's more then enough issues that actually NEED to be worked on. That and IIRC after the Court slapped down laws affecting other "new" media in the past, the fight was pretty much DOA.

 

Hunting the shadows of the troubled dreams.

Hunting the shadows of the troubled dreams.

Re: No Shortage of Opinions on Brown v. EMA Decision

I have to disagree with you. While it was close to a narrower ruling and yes, if one justice had sided with Alito and Roberts instead of Scalia, there would be a "Son of Brown v. EMA", in the long run, it really doesn't matter.

In his concurrence, Alito himself admits that Scalia's opinion basically leaves no room for a narrower law to even be considered. Even SCOTUSBlog, in an analysis of the opinion, says as much.

While it is possible another law may come along, every court in the US has to take Scalia's majority opinion into account. And the possibility of another state law is dwindling by the day, with at least two separate state politicians in Utah and Delaware saying or initimating that they will not try again. Not to mention that the research is going in favor of the video game industry.

Geaux Saints, Geaux Tigers, Geaux Hornets, Jack Thompson can geaux chase a chupacabra. Hell will stay frozen over for quite a while since the Saints won the Super Bowl.

Geaux Saints, Geaux Tigers, Geaux Pelicans. Solidarity for the Saints = No retreat, no surrender. 2013 = Saints' revenge on the NFL. Even through the darkest days, this fire burns always.

Re: No Shortage of Opinions on Brown v. EMA Decision

"A Taiwan news show I’ve never heard of (but might check out in the future) uses computer animation to detail the Court’s decision."

Wait, what!? Time to get out of the cave you've been living in. NMA TV is awesome! :D

Re: No Shortage of Opinions on Brown v. EMA Decision

 “We will continue to use all the resources within our power to call out unscrupulous retailers. If the federal courts won’t stand for parents, then we hope the court of public opinion will.”

Wow!  What a fucking concept!  Next thing you know parents will start exerting control over what games their children play.  All without governmental control!  Crazy!

-Ultimately what will do in mankind is a person's fear of their own freedom-

Re: No Shortage of Opinions on Brown v. EMA Decision

I head desked at the intro paragraph in that WaPo article.  I'm happy that it got called out on its BS

Re: No Shortage of Opinions on Brown v. EMA Decision

"More research needs to be done and we need to be “willing to consider that video games may have potential benefits as well as potential risks.”"

Most people don't say that video games don't have the ability to cause harm, what people are trying to say is that games are not inherently capable of doing so. They're generally not developed with the idea of causing as much harm as possible.

Other forms of media such as television and film can cause some form of harm as well, but it depends on how you're using it. It's the same with video games. If you go around playing video games for 18+ hours a day, get little sleep, no exercise and eat barely anything then yes, that's going to be harmful for you, but that's not the games fault.

The main problem is that parents are either not being educated well enough or are simply too ignorant (I'm going for the latter, being the cynic I am). If parents opened their eyes once and a while, they may actually find out what's inside a game and then judge for themselves if they want their child playing it - they would do the same for movies, so why not games? People don't usually blame the director or writer for a film for it's violence, yet they do so for developers. Why?

People trying to issue retarded laws are becoming very tiresome and repetitive, quite frankly.

Re: No Shortage of Opinions on Brown v. EMA Decision

"If you go around playing video games for 18+ hours a day, get little sleep, no exercise and eat barely anything then yes, that's going to be harmful for you, but that's not the games fault."

And even then, it isn't the video game that's harming you.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: No Shortage of Opinions on Brown v. EMA Decision

I agree with the court ruling. If you are going to single out video games, it is hypocritical to also not single out other forms of entertainment which offer the same content just delivered in a different medium.

Re: No Shortage of Opinions on Brown v. EMA Decision

Here are some other opinions from various sources I have found:

From the Cato Institute:

Their original thoughts on the ruling: http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/are-corporations-people-when-they-make-vi...

A Follow up comparing this ruling to the Citizens United ruling: http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/so-what-if-corporations-arent-people/

And just for fun, one about job rates comparisons between college graduates and those who don't go: http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/did-they-learn-correlation-and-causation-...

From Reason.com: http://reason.com/blog/2011/06/29/a-compelling-interest-to-restr

From NPR:

http://www.npr.org/2011/06/28/137461841/high-court-oks-sales-of-violent-...

http://www.npr.org/2011/06/27/137446796/court-california-cant-ban-violen...

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2011/06/27/137447288/high-court-says...

E. Zachary Knight
Divine Knight Gaming

Re: No Shortage of Opinions on Brown v. EMA Decision

Mormon Libertarian? What a coincidence. I'm RLDS and conservative Republican.

Anyway here is what I think: The law in California was bad policy because it was using the power of government to try to do something which should have been taken care of by the free market. However, even though I think it was bad policy, it was perfectly Constitutional. So I think this decision by the Supreme Court was totaly wrong because there's nothing in the Constitution which says minors must be allowed to buy videogames at all. Judges aren't elected. This law in California was passed by the people's duly elected representatives. So what the court did was wrong, what California did was bad policy - this whole thing is just compounding an error with more errors.

Re: No Shortage of Opinions on Brown v. EMA Decision

How is a law that singles out a particular medium for a content-based restriction aimed at a select group of individuals "perfectly Constitutional"?

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: No Shortage of Opinions on Brown v. EMA Decision

There is nothing in this ruling that says that minors must be allowed to buy violent games. This ruling says that it is up to the parents to decide what their kids buy and not the govenrment. So I fail to see why this is bad policy on the court's side.

Also, I don't see why the judges not being elected has anything to do with anything. The US Supreme Court is the final decider of what laws are constitutional or not. It has been that way since the founding of this country. Do they get things wrong sometimes? Depends on who you ask and on what topic.

E. Zachary Knight
Divine Knight Gaming

Re: No Shortage of Opinions on Brown v. EMA Decision

"It has been that way since the founding of this country."

Nope. The Supreme Court basically gave themselves their power during the Jefferson administration.

Look up Marbury vs. Madison.

----------------------------------------------------

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.

---------------------------------------------------- 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.

Re: No Shortage of Opinions on Brown v. EMA Decision

"There is nothing in this ruling that says that minors must be allowed to buy violent games. This ruling says that it is up to the parents to decide what their kids buy and not the govenrment"

Exactly, but that's precisely the way every media outlet is making it sound. That "children", specifically those under 13, despite the fact that this bill included everyone 17 and under, should be allowed to buy M-rated games, even though the bill only specified "violent" games. Now the bill also didn't specify what kind of violence either. It would have included the "extreme violence" of Black Ops to the "Cartoonish violence" of Super Mario.

So no matter how the media is making it sound, this ruling has not forced retailers to allow 8 year olds to buy M-rated games, but outlawed a bill that would have prevented 17 year olds from buying E-rated games.

Re: No Shortage of Opinions on Brown v. EMA Decision

If anyone is interested or cares what I have to say, I have two articles on a couple of personal blogs:

From my personal blog, a general discussion of the majority opinion: http://ezknight.net/?p=111

I will be writing an article or two on the concurring and dissenting opinions later this week. Probably tonight.

From my newest blog, The Mormon Libertarian, you can find an agreeing but different take on the ruling based on a mix of Mormon and Libertarian philosophy: http://mormonlibertarian.ezknight.net/?p=30

E. Zachary Knight
Divine Knight Gaming

 
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