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The Courts Government Entertainment Games News

Appeals Court Strikes Down California's Violent Game Ban 190

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has struck down as unconstitutional a California statute purporting to ban the sale or rental of violent video games to minors. In a 30-page decision (PDF), in Video Software Dealers Association v. Schwarzenegger, the federal appeals court ruled that 'the Act, as a presumptively invalid content based restriction on speech, is subject to strict scrutiny and not the 'variable obscenity' standard from Ginsberg v. New York, 390 U.S. 629 (1968). Applying strict scrutiny, we hold that the Act violates rights protected by the First Amendment because the State has not demonstrated a compelling interest, has not tailored the restriction to its alleged compelling interest, and there exist less-restrictive means that would further the State's expressed interests. Additionally, we hold that the Act's labeling requirement is unconstitutionally compelled speech under the First Amendment because it does not require the disclosure of purely factual information; but compels the carrying of the State's controversial opinion.'"
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Appeals Court Strikes Down California's Violent Game Ban

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  • Good Call (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @09:26PM (#26937441)
    This was a really good ruling. Leave censorship to the parents. There has been yet to prove a direct corollation between violent behvior and video games. Some studies have shown that operrant conditioning is happening where video game players may overcome the natural inhibition to kill. However, this theory fails to explain why most people that play violent video games do not go out and act like that in the real world. Behavioral science, while fascinating, is inexact at best. Legislating people's actions based on an inexact science is never a very good idea.
  • by digitig ( 1056110 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @09:46PM (#26937569)
    I don't think the GP was arguing that the lifting of the ban is bad, it's just a curious double standard. I've never understood the US (and increasingly UK) regulators' belief that violence is good and sex is bad. I have far more sympathy for the continental European tendency to view sex as good and violence as bad (even if -- or perhaps because -- it does lead to the French tendency when confronted with a war to say "f*** it...").
  • by corsec67 ( 627446 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @09:47PM (#26937579) Homepage Journal

    While many here will certainly applaud this decision, I find the double-standard amazing. If we can ban sales of pictures of people having sex to minors and impose other draconian punishment, then why is obscene violence any different?

    Even better, just look at the FCC.

    Saying "Fuck" is most definitely speech; why can the FCC ban that on public radio waves?

  • by clarkkent09 ( 1104833 ) * on Friday February 20, 2009 @10:31PM (#26937847)
    Publicly owned airwaves are exactly the place where you should be able to express yourself. Not much of a free speech if the only place you can exercise it is in your own bathroom
  • Re:Good Call (Score:5, Interesting)

    The human brain does not develop its judgement part until between 18-22 years old, and the judgement of kids younger than 18 is notoriously horrible.

    No offense, but I don't agree with a single thing you have said. The human brain starts developing its "judgment part" when it's in the womb. Many children's "judgment" is a lot better than that of most adults.

    During the first six years of my legal career I studied under the late Louis Nizer, who was probably the greatest trial lawyer of the second half of the 20th Century. He said that the best way to know whether your position in a case was right or wrong was to present the facts of the case to a 15-year old; if the 15-year old votes for the other side, then settle the case, quick.

  • by clarkkent09 ( 1104833 ) * on Friday February 20, 2009 @10:43PM (#26937917)
    Why can't it be both? There is more good music today and it's more accessible to more people than ever before in history. It might be hard to find though since it's buried under a Mt Everest of crap.
  • by Ravon Rodriguez ( 1074038 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @11:47PM (#26938273)
    That's all fine and good, but profanity is words, like any other word. If I say shit, I'm in trouble. if I say poop, it's okay. Why? Why make one word worse than another of the same meaning? Somehow, saying God dangit instead of God Dammit is better. Won't you be going to hell for both anyway?
  • by Ravon Rodriguez ( 1074038 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @11:51PM (#26938295)
    That may be true, but there is a branch of government whose sole purpose for existing is to interpret the Founding Fathers' intention in the words of the Constitution. That's pretty much what the Supreme Court does all day.
  • by LateArthurDent ( 1403947 ) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @12:04AM (#26938327)

    Ugh...I should read my previews.

    I meant to say I'd applaud a decision against the banning of pornography sales to kids. Again, if the parents care, they should be the ones to monitor their kids.

    Sorry for the confusion

  • by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @12:28AM (#26938461)

    And you both could not be more wrong. While many states at the time of the American Revolution relied on slavery for their economy, many of the founding fathers (especially Thomas Jefferson) sought to abolish it. They were certainly aware that blacks could be the intellectual and educational equals of whites, because they met some such people in business and from African nations.

    Some of the founding fathers would be delighted at how far Mr. Obama has come, and see it as a vindication of their dreams of liberty and justice for all.

  • by geoskd ( 321194 ) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @01:16AM (#26938631)

    Speak for yourself. There's no factual evidence that viewing sexually explicit material is harmful to anyone under any particular age. Calling it "inappropriate" is a matter of opinion, no different from calling political or religious material "inappropriate".

    Allowing anyone to view sexually explicit material anytime they wish is quite harmful to the various Catholic denominations, as it undermines their "god-given" authority. They have a vested interest in preventing it, since the bible says so. If they allow it to go unchallenged then they are hypocrites. For that reason, there is a strong religious need to prevent others from doing the things they themselves are prohibited from doing in order to justify their own faith.

    People don't have an inability to govern themselves, they have a fundamental inability to refrain from governing others.


  • by ElectricTurtle ( 1171201 ) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @04:01AM (#26939249)
    It's amusing how naive and anachronistic people can be about the thoughts and feelings of people over 200 years ago, especially given that the issues of race and slavery have been so conflated by modern interpretations of history.

    Slavery had virtually nothing to do with race in antiquity, Aristotle considered it to be nothing more than the bottom tier of a meritocracy. The Bible spoke of slavery as a social position to be endured rather than reformed (an attitude that the South latched onto with both hands of course) with no mention of race. The Romans were probably the slavin'-est bitches around, having no qualms about putting every ethnicity they could find under the yoke, including their own. Funny how all the honkies the Romans enslaved didn't whine about being victims for centuries. Instead, when the Roman empire showed weakness they kicked the shit out of it and moved on with their lives. (Albeit into the darkest period of recorded history, but that's neither here nor there.)

    All of this is important because the founding fathers were obsessed with antiquity, both directly and through the rehashing of other thinkers from the Renaissance and Enlightenment (if anybody is interested the topic is well covered in Morton White's Philosophy of the American Revolution). Anyway, point is slavery has a history before racism and is not inherently racist. Racism itself is a completely modern abstraction. Every culture on earth has some history of ethnocentrism, only through comparison and synthesis can values be assigned to decide which culture might actually deserve to feel superior. But from the inside of a culture looking out, another culture is almost invariably 'the barbarians and/or heathens'. Only in the West is there enough white guilt to have significantly mitigated that impulse. It sure as hell is alive and well in Asia. I would wager it's harder for a non-Korean to marry into a Korean family than it is for a black person to marry into a white family in the US. (Speaking from experience on the latter.)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 22, 2009 @04:28AM (#26947169)
    Oh wow, this one's going to be fun. First off, learn to read, when I was talking about inter-racial relationships I said I had experience with the latter, not the former. To enumerate it specifically, I'm white and married a black woman and we have a daughter. I'm sure they can both tell you what a dyed in the wool bigot I must be.

    So, what does slavery have to do with race/ethnocentrism or anything else? Ask the poster(s) I was responding to. Both Antique Geekmeister and Toonol make implicit links between race and slavery. I came along to break those links.

    I will come right out and say that contemporary black people need to stop rolling out slavery as some kind of trump card to get pity. Those ancestors who were slaves are long dead, just as my ancestors who were slaves to Rome are dead and I don't get to go to Italy and talk about how The Man messed up everything for me because of what happened to my great*n-grandfather. This neither denies the real suffering of those slaves in the past nor ignores the racism that exists in the present, but there is no (contemporary) link. And I have no qualms with the slave uprisings that did occur (they can't occur now because there are no longer any slaves), both in the antebellum South as well as antiquity such as the Third Servile War and the long struggle between the Spartans and the Helots.

    While I'm not going to go hunting for a citation, I'm pretty sure that somebody was whining back in the 19th century, and as for now, I'm sure that a quick search for 'slavery reparations' would answer your question of who. Rome has nothing to do with my initial assertion about American attitudes toward history, nor did I draw direct links for that. What I was saying is that previous posters are trying to stick modern thought processes and morals into the heads of Enlightenment politicians. That's anachronism, and the attitude that spawned it is naivete.

    I'm not trying to address whether the founding fathers were racist or not. Not only is the truth of that a matter internal to each person, but when you're talking about cultures over time there are certain parameters that might be considered mitigating. Sort of like grading on a curve, if somebody was significantly less racist in what was a very racist society, they might for practical reasons be considered not racist at all (like getting an A+ for being at the top of the curve even if you have some wrong answers). In an absolute sense, probably virtually all the white people in the colonies were racists, but the ones who were least in spite of that social environment could functionally be considered 'not racist' for the work that they did as abolitionists etc.

    White guilt has made Americans less ethnocentric. A lot of people disagree, but ask my wife what it's like as a black person traveling around outside of the US or Africa. Getting catcalls of 'Oy negra!' in Spanish-speaking countries. Asian cultures are polite but militantly xenophobic and insular. Europe thinks they're over it, but tell that to all the victims of ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. At least we stopped doing that after Manifest Destiny. And as for hating 'brown people and their religion' at least it's mutual, and they hated us and our religion first.

    None of this has anything to do with video game violence, but you can take that up with the posts several levels above.

    What I was trying to suggest was simply that slavery was not inherently racist, which means that somebody could be an abolitionist and still a racist (I'm sure that many abolitionists of the antebellum era wouldn't back inter-racial marriage) as well as pro-slavery and not racist (sourced in the classical roots of meritocratic or socially structured race-neutral slavery). Do you see yet? What this means in the context of the original reply is that assuming that because somebody wanted to abolish slavery it doesn't necessarily follow that they wouldn't have wanted all race barriers broken, and THAT was naive and anachronistic.

    I have not

The Force is what holds everything together. It has its dark side, and it has its light side. It's sort of like cosmic duct tape.