In a July 1 opinion piece in First Things, Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput wrote that the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on the California video game violence law (Brown v. EMA) is "wrong," and will add "poison" the country’s future.
Chaput also wrote that the court’s ruling "extends and elevates the individual’s right to free expression – or in this case, a corporation’s right to make a healthy profit – at the expense of family sovereignty, the natural rights of parents and the intent of the Constitution’s authors."
Chaput went on to write that the ruling overlooked the government’s duty to protect "human dignity and the common good."
"A law which respects mothers and fathers trying to make good choices for their family does just that," he wrote.
Of course parents don’t need the government to hand-hold when making decisions about what is right and wrong for their children. They do this every day without the government’s help.
Archbishop Chaput did write in his opinion piece that he does not think video games are "bad." But he added that allowing minors access to violent video games without parental consent violates natural law and parents’ rights.
This is a common argument for proponents of the failed California law, because they believe that children now have magical access to mature rated games. This is absolutely not true thanks to retail enforcement of the ESRB ratings system and I.D. checks for purchasers.
While Archbishop Chaput acknowledged that the court’s backing of defining what lawmakers can and cannot ban is important, he added that the court acted "prematurely" in striking down the law, and made "a serious mistake in too quickly lumping violent video games under the same protections given Grimm’s Fairy Tales or network TV."
The rest of the article praises Justice Clarence Thomas’s opinion on the case, and mistakenly continues to omit the safeguards already in place to deal with children trying to purchase mature content without a parent.
The Archbishop of Denver then cited the 1999 Columbine shooting as "indirect but brutally real proof" of his point. Clearly a red herring since no proof has ever been provided in that case that video games were the cause. He was Archbishop of Denver when the shootings occurred, and said he still remembers visiting with families of victims and "trying to make sense of the violence to the wider community."
Chaput is no stranger to hating on video games; he addressed a special session of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation two weeks after the 1999 shootings, saying then that violence found in video games had a "direct impact on youth and is among the roots of real-life violence."
"Common sense tells us that the violence of our music, our video games, our films, and our television has to go somewhere," he said at the 1999 session. "It goes straight into the hearts of our children to bear fruit in ways we can’t imagine – until something like (the Columbine shootings) happens."
Given his opinions then, should we expect him to say anything different now?