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Supreme Court hears arguments in Schwarzenegger v. EMA, asks if we should ban fairy tales too

Nov 2 is the day for Americans to make their voices heard, and in the cold of a Washington D.C. morning hundreds of people gathered of the steps of the Supreme Court of the United States in anticipation of the oral arguments heard today regarding the Schwarzenegger v. EMA suit, and the much-reviled California Video Game Law.


Above: Legal… 

While little attention has been paid to this suit on a national level, the Court’s gallery was over-stuffed with observers as Attorney General of California, Zackery Morazzini, made his opening statements. Moranzzini began by suggesting that the “deviant” level of violence that is depicted in certain video games requires legal restrictions to protect minors.

Protect them from what, wondered Justice Scalia. "You are asking us to create a whole new prohibition... what's next after violence? Drinking? Movies that show drinking? Smoking?"  Scalia also suggested that banning violent videogames would be of the same order as banning Grimm’s fairy tales, which are often very similar in their depictions of violence.


Above: Illegal? 

The Court was not prepared to let the video games industry off the hook so easily, however. "Imagining a game that allows a player to torture babies," Justice Breyer suggested. "Why isn't it common sense for the state to say 'Parents, if you want your 13-year-old to play it you have to buy it?” The Court went on to question the game’s industry ardent resistance to any law that would limit the exposure of violent content to children.

While the hearing was not a very somber affair, with Justice Kagan admitting that half of the Court’s clerks played Mortal Kombat, the Justices did press Moranzinni hard to prove why video games should be placed in a ‘special category’ separate from rap music or fairy tales.


Above: As played by real Supreme Court clerks 

Moranzinni declared that video games were ‘unusual’ in that their interactive nature may trigger a subconscious drive within players –particularly young players- to commit violent acts, and that these impulses would not be triggered through non-interactive mediums such as movies, music, or bedtime stories.

After the hour-long hearing both plaintiff and defending representatives emerged optimistic about their chances for success.

“I think what the court really does understand is the difficulty of regulating in the area of violence in the absence of any historical basis for drawing a new exception under the First Amendment…  and so I think the court is, at least I hope, they will come away very skeptical of the notion that just because someone can show you a video of a video game that some people think is offensive that somehow it justifies coming up with a whole regulatory regime – particularly where there is already a whole voluntary regulatory regime,” said Paul Smith, representative of the EMA.

Senator Leland Yee, author of the controversial legislation, countered “I think that they [the Justices] were very, very interested in finding a way to ensure that [these] gratuitous, ultra-violent video games [are not] out in the hands of children.”

The Court’s decision is expected before the Summer recess of June, 2011. Since today’s the day to make your voices heard, what did you think of the proceedings?

Nov 02, 2010

Washington DC rally calls for gamers
Couch potatoes need not apply

 


ECA asks US Supreme Court to reject restrictions on depicting violence in video games
‘Video games are an expressive medium that should be protected by the First Amendment,’ says ECA vice president

 

Parents TV Council criticizes 'abysmal' ESRB retail compliance
Oh really?

45 comments

  • jmcgrotty - November 4, 2010 6:11 a.m.

    " it quite literally could go both ways from here..." Actually, no it couldn't. It could literally go either way from here, but cound not literally go both ways.
  • hester2 - November 3, 2010 8:05 p.m.

    @alliancejake Manhunt isn't a great example, mainly because it was the retailers over there who said they wouldn't carry it. Now this was probably to prevent the government from stepping in with more rules, but that's for a different time. That aside, though, you summed it up almost perfectly. I actually have no problem with the SENTIMENT of the law. I agree that kids under a certain age shouldn't be allowed anywhere near games like Manhunt, Kane and Lynch, GTA, etc. It's the IMPLICATION of the law where I have a problem. If it was guaranteed to stop at "don't let kids buy the game without parental consent," that would be one thing. The problem is, like you said, allowing this law to stand would mean that video games are suddenly subject to any and all legislation. This probably wouldn't happen, but there would be the potential of stricter laws being made to limit the actual content of the games instead of who it could be sold to. That's where my problem is. Before some people argue with me about agreeing with even the sentiment behind the law with the "parents should make that decision," I agree, they should. Only problem is there are a ton of parents out there who really don't put in the thought necessary for that decision. That being said, the fact that this opens the industry up to legislation means that I don't support this and I never will.
  • Sharkbot - November 3, 2010 6:05 p.m.

    The Communists have once again been defeated and America is safe again... for now.
  • alliancejake - November 3, 2010 3:44 p.m.

    @alphafour The problem is that this law is trying to place video games in a separate category with pornography, alcohol, and cigarettes instead of maintaining it's protected 1st amendment status as free speech. The continuation of this law will (#1) create another government bureaucracy that we can't afford to (#2) regulate an industry that is already self-regulating . Your same question can be reversed in so much as, "What is the problem with making it the responsibility to look on the box to see if a game is rated as appropriate for their 13 year old?" I didn't buy Manhunt either, but the fact that it was banned due to content is very troubling to most Americans. In order for free speech to be a reality, hate speech or unconfortable speech MUST be allowed. You said that your government has not tried to come up with "random measures" against video games, but their ruling against a game like manhunt is a random measure. What makes manhunt worse than Madworld? what about games that allow for morally wrong choices and paths like Fable 3? What about modern realistic games like MW2, should those be censored too (which is was in many parts of the world)? Most Americans stand opposed to any sort of censorship and will fight to maintain as many freedoms as we can because we know that the whole of human history is characterized by either either hard or soft tyranny and oppression. America is and has been the exception to that (now that we have abolished slavery and segregation, which has been a part of every culture at one point or another). As Americans, we are not "better" than any other country, but we do have our principles and we try our very best to not compromise. I hope this answers your questions.
  • BurntToShreds - November 3, 2010 3:42 p.m.

    I would like to see more PSAs directed to parents that certain video games are NOT for kids. Put them on during Law and Order, NCIS, CSI and the like. Put up standees (those cutouts you see in theaters) that talk about the ESRB in game stores. Game store workers should do their part as well. If a kid comes up with a parent, the worker should point out the rating and the content. If that doesn't work then I will lose hope in humanity.
  • JoeMasturbaby - November 3, 2010 2:56 p.m.

    if having to show my ID at a game retailer is the cost of shutting these assholes up, then i will gladly do it.
  • Shenlong4517 - November 3, 2010 1:59 p.m.

    At least the Justices have their heads on straight.
  • EdDeRs1 - November 3, 2010 1:57 p.m.

    @NeelEvil vidio games are the lattest in what are supposed to make people crazy, first it was music with AC/DC being taken to court for a murderer calling himself the Night Stalker and people associated that with there song "Night Prowler" (last track on Highway to Hell), a song that was about sneaking into your girlfriends house at night, then Judas Priest were taken to court for "subliminal messeges" causing a suicide or murder (i forget the right one) and the court ruled in Priest's favour. there was Collimbine (or however you spell it) that was Marrilin Mansons "fault" and a few days earlyer the president had bombed a hospital and factory in a country the name of he cant pronounce. in all cases it was the religious groups that acted against them and now the madmen are marching on vidio games cos its an easyer target. in fact the only REAL case of subliminal messageing i can think of was Pink Floyd putting a compition on an album backwards, hell Frank Zappa even recorded a whole song backwards for a joke!
  • EdDeRs1 - November 3, 2010 1:48 p.m.

    all that i can say is thank the diety of your choice that the UK got this out of its system years ago with constant wars against everyone else and Thatcher(BITCH!) :D
  • EdDeRs1 - November 3, 2010 1:43 p.m.

    hmmm sounds like what the American goverment and PMRC tried to do to music in the late 80's after Al Gore's wife was insulted by an album her child bought. what is gona happen to america, it claims to be the land of the free and they attempt to put heavy bans or restrictions on anything non-cristian. all we need now is for a semi-well know musican to stand up against waht is happening (like Frank Zappa did for music in 88). I may be from the UK so this has no direct effect on me but with the cock sucking conservative goverment in power at the moment im woried that they may start sucking the cock of the US if they do regulate games and put bans on them here...
  • hester2 - November 3, 2010 1:26 p.m.

    The one thing that worries me is that almost all the examples of violence they referenced in the case was from Postal 2. Probably about 5 people played that game, and it could play a role in the decision they make.
  • Pyrovizard - November 3, 2010 11:18 a.m.

    glad to see some "intelligent" people in the supreme court, and like most here i think its the parents responsibility to watch what there kids doing/playing, if my mom saw something in a game that made her go WTF i'd explain it and she'd just go ok bye, because my mom knows that i know the difference between video games and reality (just to clarify im 17 now and can buy whatever the fuck i want, cept booze, smokes and porn)
  • NeelEvil - November 3, 2010 11:02 a.m.

    @ alphafour I suggest you visit Game Politics & read up on this, it won't be a system like ours in the UK, the worry is it will simply stop developers making mature games altogether due to the wording of the legislation. It's quite vague in its definition of violent games & could have industry wide consequences. Also Manhunt was never banned in the UK, some retailers refused to stock it after the media falsely claimed it was linked to the murder of Stefan Pakeerah (this was refuted by the police).
  • Soulmantle - November 3, 2010 8:31 a.m.

    Having worked in the retail industry selling these kinds of games, I can honestly say parents are more responsible for acquiring these titles than the kids who are playing them.
  • michaelpreston - November 3, 2010 6:56 a.m.

    They can whine all they want about censorship, but "regulation" must be parental and NOTHING ELSE. What? Are we going to seriously have Arnold place fines on mature adult fun just because some crappy parents are too lazy to watch what their kids buy/play? It's a good day for gamers, but it's embarrassing to me to think that there are idiots out there who think Uncle Sam should watch over them constantly. Grow up, America!
  • kit07 - November 3, 2010 6:50 a.m.

    i live in canada so i dont know how much this would effect me. i will say tho a few year ago when i worked at EBgames, (the gamestop of canada) a little boy came in and tried to buy Blitz the League. i told him he couldnt cuz it was rated M. he left and came back with his mom, i told her that in the game u could hire hookers for the other team so they were tired. she said meh pretty much and bought the game for him. he was probably 8 just saying
  • Nazcom555 - November 3, 2010 5:54 a.m.

    I lol'd several times at the transcripts, Scalia is hilarious. Kagan talking about half of the clerks playing Mortal Kombat was followed closely by Scalia commenting, "I have no idea what she's talking about" (or something to that affect) Epic
  • CurryIsGood - November 3, 2010 4:37 a.m.

    I say we ban little red riding hood because it involves the killing of an endangered animal, the wolf. Also the history channel for all that actual black and white WWII violence. Also most history books because on 7th grade while studying about the Renaissance there was a statue with boobies.
  • Cwf2008 - November 3, 2010 3:59 a.m.

    "Protect them from what, wondered Justice Scalia. "You are asking us to create a whole new prohibition... what's next after violence? Drinking? Movies that show drinking? Smoking?" Scalia also suggested that banning violent videogames would be of the same order as banning Grimm’s fairy tales, which are often very similar in their depictions of violence." Justice Scalia is my newest favorite Justice...sorry guy who voted in favor of Brown v. Board of Education
  • twinkletitsMcGee - November 3, 2010 2:40 a.m.

    If a game allowed people to torture babies. WTF no one would make a game like that because no one would play it... All of these old ass politicians need to go retire or die because they truly do not understand shit about technology. I also love how they are so certain that video games have a much stronger affect on young children. I still have not seen any proof of this, which is probably due to the fact that there is non. I know people that grew up playing GTA and Mortal Kombat since they were in grade school and they are the most peaceful people I know. Why is this you ask? Because video games do not influence behavior as much as the environment that you grow up in. These people would be better off spending their time trying to create programs that teach parents how to raise their kids so that they know that the things that they see in games are not ok to do in real life.

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