Paul Smith and Gaming the Courts

August 4, 2011 -

Metro weekly profiles Paul Smith, one of the leading Supreme Court litigators in the country, and particularly his noteworthy work on Brown v. EMA. But before tackling that landmark case, Smith has (and still does) fought to advance gay equality in the courts. Smith was a key factor in successfully arguing Lawrence v. Texas before the Supreme Court in 2003, which resulted in ending sodomy laws.

Smith began his work on technology issues with a prominent First Amendment case involving the Communications Decency Act or, Reno v. ACLU. The law required "all communications on the Internet, even like email, to be suitable for young children unless … screened away from children." The law "was thrown out by the Supreme Court ultimately unanimously in 1997." Smith has spent most of his career arguing against similar regulations including those applying to video games.

The Reno case, caught the attention of the video game industry, and saw him arguing cases for the video game industry for about 10 years all around the country - including the case decided earlier this year, Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association.

"States and cities have tried to pass laws limiting which games can be sold to minors based on their content," says Smith. "Our position has always been, 'there's a ratings system, and people should be able to make choices about these things themselves.' It's not obscenity, it's protected speech."

"And we had always succeeded in having the laws thrown out under the First Amendment, including in California, which is the case that went to the Supreme Court," he continued. "The alarming moment was when they took the case at the Supreme Court. There was no apparent reason why they should."

"But it led to quite a First Amendment confrontation...which had the attention of not just the video game manufacturers, but the moviemakers and the television producers and all sorts of people who were worried that we were suddenly going to have a new exception to the First Amendment for violence and kids."

"But it didn't turn out that way," Smith added.

Smith's advocacy for free speech and gay rights will continue, but gamers are in his debt for his work on Brown v. EMA.

Metro Weekly is a Washington, DC area publication that covers issues and people important to the gay and lesbian community. It has been in operation since May 1994.


Comments

Re: Paul Smith and Gaming the Courts

He's a legal genius, and now a hero to the video game community.  Hats off to you, Mr. Smith, for protecting free speech.

Re: Paul Smith and Gaming the Courts

But he promotes sodomy and wants kids to have access to violent games!!

I'm making this up but I bet some pundits say so to similar effect...

 
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ZippyDSMleeEh still rather subjective… the haters would be better off going after teen and beauty rags and magazines than fiction, fiction follows reality and going after fiction tends to turn into a bullying fest’s… plus its fiction its unrealistic to start with….02/27/2015 - 1:10am
MechaTama31That's a pretty difficult anatomy to break.02/26/2015 - 11:09pm
MechaTama31"the way her animations repeatedly break her anatomy" <-- I'm sorry, but we are talking here about the woman who can roll up into a little ball and live to tell the tale, yes? ;)02/26/2015 - 11:09pm
Andrew EisenAs far as examples that could be culled from female game characters though, that one's pretty mild.02/26/2015 - 9:11pm
Andrew EisenNot as much the heels or the suit in and of themselves but certainly the way her animations repeatedly break her anatomy to show off her lady bits.02/26/2015 - 9:10pm
E. Zachary KnightWell, Samus's heels are certainly impracticable, but I wouldn't really call her Zero suit objectified. I don't really feel that the new Lara Croft is objectified either, but that is my subjective opinion.02/26/2015 - 9:08pm
Andrew EisenTomb Raider: No but we haven't seen much of anything yet. Samus: Yes.02/26/2015 - 9:07pm
ZippyDSMleeWould you call the new tomb raider objectified? WOuld Samus Aran from the new Smash bros be objectified?02/26/2015 - 9:02pm
WonderkarpI'm hoping they put the rest of the comic book ghostbusters in there. Ortiz and Rookie(From GB the game)02/26/2015 - 8:38pm
Wonderkarpghostbusters board game is doing great. getting close too a 3rd extra playable Character. Ron Alexander.02/26/2015 - 8:37pm
Andrew EisenSmurfette is not subjective. If there's more than one female character, it's not Smurfette. Anyway, as with everything on the list, Smurfette is, in and of itself, not necessarily a bad thing.02/26/2015 - 8:32pm
Andrew EisenI think there's 5 women (out of 15, I think) but other than one being a bit more "hippy" than the others, they pretty much all have the same body type. Especially when compaired to the huge variety of male body types.02/26/2015 - 8:31pm
Wonderkarpso I dont see Smurfette as a bad thing. Unless like all your female characters are Smurfette. remember the Smurfs also had Sassette02/26/2015 - 8:29pm
E. Zachary KnightOne good example of the larger issues is one Anita used in the presentation, Blizzard's Overwatch game. There are a dozen men in the game with a dozen body types. But there are only 4 women with 2 body types, but 3 of them have the same one.02/26/2015 - 8:28pm
Wonderkarpthe smurfette thing is subjective to how many female characters you have. Take Sonic for example. You have Amy, who is obvious smurfette, but there's several other female characters now without that. Including the original animated seriescomics with Sally02/26/2015 - 8:28pm
E. Zachary KnightAE. Very true. I think that is where I was going, but it didn't come out right. Jack Harkness is sexy but not objectified. Whereas, a women would have to be objectified in order to be "sexy" in most games.02/26/2015 - 8:26pm
E. Zachary KnightAnd as Andrew pointed out, there is a big difference between a sexualized man, and an idealized man. But for some reason, there is no distinction between women in games. For the most part.02/26/2015 - 8:25pm
Andrew EisenI think one of the issues we run into repeatedly with these conversations is the confusion over "sexy" and "sexually objectified."02/26/2015 - 8:24pm
E. Zachary KnightYet, for some reason, in orde rto have a sexualized women, she must be wearing lingerie or a bikini. Can't women be sexual and still dress for the job at hand?02/26/2015 - 8:24pm
E. Zachary KnightThe problem I have with complaints of "sexualized men" is that men don't have to wear speedos to be sexualized. Captain Jack Harkness from Torchwood/Doctor Who, was one sexy man, but he spent 99% of his time in a WW2 soldier's trenchcoat.02/26/2015 - 8:23pm
 

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