Court To Rule On Video Game Regulation

MJS

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WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court will decide whether free speech rights are more important than helping parents keep violent material away from children.
The justices agreed Monday to consider reinstating California's ban on the sale or rental of violent video games to minors, a law the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco threw out last year on grounds that it violated minors' constitutional rights.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who signed the law in 2005, said he was pleased the high court would review the appeals court decision. He said, "We have a responsibility to our kids and our communities to protect against the effects of games that depict ultra-violent actions, just as we already do with movies."
 

Rich Parsons

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the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco threw out last year on grounds that it violated minors' constitutional rights


Did anyone sitting on this bench go to college or read the US Constitution?

I understand the US Supreme Court rules on constitutionality, but the lower courts need to pay attention.

Let us look at some logic that any first year law student would present.

If Minors have Rights, then any law that prohibits a minor from doing something is unconstitutional including the voting age which was set to 18. This is the bases for determining a minor and an adult. There are cases where they try someone younger than 18 as an adult but they have to go through a special process to get it done.

So, according to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, it is not valid to limit a minor :

1) from driving due to age.
2) from drinking alcohol due to age.
3) from voting due to age. (* So the Circuit Court just over rulled / turned an amendment Scary huh. *)
4) Insert many others here.


WOW, just wow.

Now the caveat, I can only assume that the orignal law was written so poorly and that the sumation presented for striking it down was not complete. Otherwise like I said just WOW.
 

Empty Hands

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If Minors have Rights, then any law that prohibits a minor from doing something is unconstitutional including the voting age which was set to 18.

Er, no. Minors clearly have some, but not all rights. You can't sell minors into slavery. You can't eat them for breakfast. You can't have sex with them, or even put them to work for you before a certain age. Minors have limited but still present rights to free speech, against unreasonable searches and seizures, etc. Whatever the rationale used, the 9th clearly found that the statute violated a right that minors DO possess. Whether that finding was reasonable or not I do not know, but you can't simply say that minors have no rights.
 

CanuckMA

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Whatever the rationale used, the 9th clearly found that the statute violated a right that minors DO possess. Whether that finding was reasonable or not I do not know, but you can't simply say that minors have no rights.


So by the same argument, not sellng porn to minor violates their rights? Movie ratings violates their rights?

As a society we set boundaries as to what minors can and cannot do. I fail to see how not selling violent materials to minors violates their rights.
 

cdunn

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As usual, it's best to go straight to the court opinion. The essential argument advanced by the court is that the state is over-reaching, in creating a new class of non-protected material that is not a subset of anything else that is non-protected. There is an established procedure for showing that speech is not protected by the first Amendment. The law fails.

US courts have consistently ruled that obscenity based laws(I know it when I see it!) apply only to sexual material. Since the material is not legally obscene, it then falls that the state must show 'compelling interest', and use the narrowest possible proscription against that speech, as it is censoring on content.

The law in question indicates that its interest is the prevention of violent behavior, and the prevention of 'psychological or nerurological harm to minors'. However, precedent again exists that the government cannot suppress violent speech, save in the event that it prescribes immediate violence against persons - "The right to think is the beginning of freedom, and speech must be protected from the government because speech is the beginning of thought." Even where minors are concerned, the State cannot attempt to use censoring to control the minor's thoughts where violence is concerned. Further, as the studies used by the legislature to prove that these games case harm to the minor are self-admittedly deeply, even fatally, flawed, the state is unable to show that these games cause mental harm to minors, and therefore, the statue fails the compelling interest test. Further, because the ESRB rating system exists in order to allow parents to censor or not-censor their children's video gaming experience, clear down to the theoretical imposition of rating-based parental locks at the console level, the statue also fails to show that a large fine to sellers of video games is the minimally invasive way to censor this speech.

There is some further crap about the labelling, but this in no way invalidates the 'normal' restrictions on the freedoms of minors. Pornography is a 'special' exemption carved into the law over decades, if not centuries. The MPAA movie rating system, as it exists in America, is self-imposed by the film industry, specifically to avoid questions of censoring, as is the ESRB game rating system. These enable the parents, rather than the government, to make the choice.

Besides, this should always have been the parent's job, not the governments, no? Or is it magically better because it's a state government and not the federal government?
 

RandomPhantom700

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While I'll, most of the time, favor the free speech argument, in this case, I gotta say I agree with the Governator (*shudders having to type that*). Primarily, it's not really the free speech of the minors that's in question, but the free speech of the game developers. There's already plenty of precedent for restricting the sale of media to minors based on content.

Now, if they banned violent video games completely, regardless of the age of the purchasor, I'd be screaming bloody murder. That, however, does not seem to be the case.

And as Empty Hands pointed out, while minor's rights can be restricted, they still have rights. An example would be clothes in school; while you can limit them based on the possibility of disruption of the classroom, there's still a right to wear non-disruptive clothing such as armbands or music t-shirts.
 

tahuti

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Are movie ratings required by law? If not why games need law requirement, don't forget to put it also for theater's, books, magazines and other forms of entertainment.
 

CanuckMA

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Theatres can restrict entry based on ratings. Video stores can restrict sales and rentals of movies based on ratings. So why are video games different?
 

cdunn

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Are movie ratings required by law? If not why games need law requirement, don't forget to put it also for theater's, books, magazines and other forms of entertainment.

Theatres can restrict entry based on ratings. Video stores can restrict sales and rentals of movies based on ratings. So why are video games different?

These two are related: The movie rating system, in America, is NOT required by law. Any merchant may refuse to perform any transaction for any reason, so long as it does not violate common carriage laws. Self censorship is in the best interest of the film industry. Thus, the MPAA rating system, and the refusal to sell tickets to underage, unaccompanied minors. Any store may choose to refuse to sell any given game to a minor, if it so chooses. However, lacking clear and substantial proof of harm, the government may not force either industry to censor. The system is fully voluntary, and not even enforced in the film industry!
 

Empty Hands

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So by the same argument, not sellng porn to minor violates their rights? Movie ratings violates their rights?

As a society we set boundaries as to what minors can and cannot do. I fail to see how not selling violent materials to minors violates their rights.

None of that contradicts what I said.
 

Rich Parsons

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Er, no. Minors clearly have some, but not all rights. You can't sell minors into slavery. You can't eat them for breakfast. You can't have sex with them, or even put them to work for you before a certain age. Minors have limited but still present rights to free speech, against unreasonable searches and seizures, etc. Whatever the rationale used, the 9th clearly found that the statute violated a right that minors DO possess. Whether that finding was reasonable or not I do not know, but you can't simply say that minors have no rights.

I see your point, but you missed mine. Maybe it was the way I presented it.

The point was that it was presented as a black in white issue. One or the other. Which was the point I was trying to say, is that now they have no rights or they have all rights. Nothing we do to prevent them from driving or buying alcohol or what have you is a legal law.
 

Cryozombie

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Aren't Videogames already rated by the ESRB?

Yes, yes they are.

ESRB ratings have three parts: rating symbols suggest age appropriateness for the game, content descriptors to indicate elements in a game that may have triggered a particular rating and/or may be of interest or concern, and more detailed rating summaries that are available through the ESRB Web site. To take full advantage of the ESRB rating system, it's important to check the rating symbol (on the front of the game box) and the content descriptors (on the back of the game box); parents are also encouraged to read the rating summaries for the game.

So ultimately isn't this just an issue of parents not parenting properly, and allowing their children access to material they do not wish them to have? I understand the argument that you can't control your kids all the time, when they are at Billy's house, but it's the same with or without this law, right?

I guess what I am asking is do we NEED more stupid nanny laws to take over for the common sense of parents?
 
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