Last week the U-S Supreme Court ruled that a California law restricting sales of violent video games was unconstitutional. But did the ruling open the flood-gates for selling violence to unsuspecting children, or did it simply reaffirm First Amendment protections for art and expression?
Now, many of us would never consider video games to be art, but then again how many us consider the violent content in many forms of art “appropriate” for children?
Remember how “Hansel and Gretel” escaped: the two children cooked the old lady in an oven. The court itself pointed out that Odysseus attacks the Cyclops with a hot, pointed stick, and grinds his eye out with it. And Shakespeare’s stage is littered with poisoned and stabbed corpses, as is the Bible.
Some critics of the decision have said the violent games lead to violence in children. And it is certainly true that in some circumstances, some children do respond with some kinds of violence. But the overwhelming research evidence is that violent video games generate exactly the same psychological response as Road Runner and Bugs Bunny cartoons.
What the court did not do is limit the rating system currently used on the video games. In other words, the court is leaving it up to parents to monitor their children’s purchasing power and game behavior.
Over the last few years we’ve seen a groundswell of support for less government intrusion in our lives. Everywhere you turn people are saying they can make their own decisions for themselves and their children.
Yes, some of video games gruesome, offensive and disgusting. But do I want the government to tell me what my children can and cannot have on their computers? Absolutely not.
This decision puts control of children’s video behavior right where it belongs: with parents who need to take responsibility for raising their children.