Today is MONDAY, June 27, 2011. This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out our state's ban on violent video games. The law stated that no business is allowed to rent or sell violent video games to anyone under 18 years old. The court ruled that this is a violation of First Amendment rights of minors.
Here is an excerpt of the majority opinion, as quoted in today's story in the New York Times:
“No doubt a state possesses legitimate power to protect children from harm,” said Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the majority opinion. “But that does not include a free-floating power to restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed.”
This is a fascinating ruling -- the majority stated that, unlike sexual content, which can be restricted for minors, violence has always been available to children through avenues like fairy tales. Therefore, the thinking goes, it should not be restricted by law. So if a 12-year-old boy wants to rent or buy, say, "Grand Theft Auto," he should be permitted to, even though it's a game that more or less celebrates drive-by shootings, running down pedestrians, and stealing cars. These are the kinds of "ideas" that the court ruled should be available to children under 18. But these are not ideas -- they are visceral entertainment. Do they have an influence? Sure. Will they teach criminal behavior? I don't think so, but what do I know of such things? I think it's fair to say that exposure to certain activities can numb the repulsion one feels about it.
This is a debate that has been going on for some time now. The court has seemingly settled the matter, but it's unlikely that the ruling will end the controvery. After all, what about R rated movies? Why does a 12-year-old get to see images and activities in a video game he can't see on a movie screen? Those are the same "ideas" he has a right to, according to the court.
By the way, the 2-person minority -- Justices Clarence Thomas and Stephen Bryer -- disagreed, writing that the constitution never meant for ideas to be available to children without the filter of parental and/or adult supervision.
What do you think of this ruling?
Today - Sunny, with a high near 79. Breezy, with a west southwest wind between 16 and 26 mph, with gusts as high as 33 mph.
Tonight - Increasing clouds, with a low around 56. Windy, with a west southwest wind 27 to 30 mph decreasing to between 15 and 18 mph. Winds could gust as high as 38 mph.
Martinez Unified School District Board - 7 p.m., District Office, 921 Susana St. The board will consider approval of the 2011-2012 budget, among other items.
Energy Upgrade California in Contra Costa County - 6 p.m., City Hall Council Chambers, 525 Henrietta St. The City of Martinez and Contra Costa County's Department of Conservation and Development are teaming up to co-host a public workshop on how to conserve energy in the home.
Today In History:
1844 - Joseph Smith, Jr., founder of the Church of Latter Day Saints, is murdered by a mob in Illinois.
1898 - Joshua Slocum becomes the first person to circumnavigate the globe alone.
1950 - The U.S. sends troops to fight in the Korean War.
1967 - The world's first ATM machine is installed in a town in England.
1971 - Promoter Bill Graham closes Fillmore East in New York City.
1974 - President Richard Nixon visits in Soviet Union.