The U.S. Supreme Court has been quite busy this year. In front of it currently is whether laws prohibiting sales of violent video games to minors are constitutional. There are two main constitutional issues for the Supreme Court: Does the First Amendment cover “offensive” content in video games sold to minors and if banning the sale of video games falls into the strict scrutiny standard. Strict scrutiny refers to the way a court will review complaints about government action by forcing the government to show a compelling interest in protecting minors in the least restrictive way.
What Is The Current Law Banning Violent Video Games?
In California, the law prohibits, “the sale of violent video games to minors under 18 where a reasonable person would find that the violent content appeals to a deviant or morbid interest of minors, is patently offensive to prevailing community standards as to what is suitable for minors, and causes the game as a whole to lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors.” Each violation is met with up to a $1,000 fine paid by the business or manager. This law is aimed at trying to “reinforce the right of parents to restrict children’s ability to purchase offensively violent video games.”
Why Does The Current Law Ban Violent Video Game Sales To Minors?
Outside of the obvious (a very young child should not be exposed to grotesque violence). The Legislature considered the Federal Trade Commission’s report on video game markers attempting to market M-rated (Mature) video games to minors and that 69% of 13-16 year olds were able to purchase an M-rated game.
Many of the games that are targeted involve shooting at armed and unarmed people (the state cited a game in which you shoot at both police officers and schoolgirls). Additionally, some video games include attacking people that beg for mercy, setting people on fire then urinating on them and all these violent acts are usually followed by comments like “now the flowers will grow.”
What do you think? Should violent video games be banned to minors? If a minor wants a violent video game, should a parent buy it for them? Are violent video games Free Speech?
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