Friday, November 05, 2010

The Terminator vs. the Constitution

We read:
"Does a zombie count as ‘an image of a human being?’ What about an android or a shape-shifting alien? If his arm regenerates when you hack it off, does that still amount to ‘maiming?’ Are you ‘killing’ him if he comes back to life after you incinerate him with a flamethrower?

These are a few of the questions raised by California’s law against selling ‘offensively violent’ video games to minors.

But the most important question is this: Should the Supreme Court, which considered arguments for and against the law on Tuesday, create an exception to the First Amendment at the behest of moral crusaders who, like critics of dime novels, motion pictures, and comic books in earlier generations, see a newly popular medium as an intolerable threat to the youth of America?”

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who starred in violent movies that have inspired several violent video games, nevertheless argues that the Court should uphold the law (which he proudly signed) by extending the logic of a 1968 decision that allowed states to impose age restrictions on sales of pornography. But that ruling was based on the obscenity doctrine, which holds that certain kinds of sexual material are beyond the scope of the First Amendment even for adults. The Court has never taken that position with respect to violence.



Anonymous said...

Movies have ratings which equate to age restrictions, and many theaters actually enforced those restrictions. For video games to fall under similar restriction does not seem to be unreasonable. What IS unreasonable is parents who use movies and video games as babysitters and then complain when their little precious complains.

If parents would actually BE parents, these kinds of issues would be pretty much moot.


Anonymous said...

If the SCOTUS did this, it would be overstepping it's constitutional role/authority. Only the states (the people) can amend the Constitution.

This is another example of how a handful of Leftists in Mexifornia can change the lives of 320 million people, via a court. This is why the Left worked so hard, for so long, to rid our country of one of it's founding principles, majority rule.

Anonymous said...

I thought the Constitution wasn't based on majority rule and opposed the concept of "tyranny of the majority" - ??

Anonymous said...


Yes, movies have ratings that are set voluntarily by the motion picture industry. Theaters that comply with those ratings often do so because it is their choice.

An industry making a rating of product and a theater following that rating as a choice is radically different than the government saying you must follow these ratings, or you must rate these films.

One is an industry policing itself within the limits of the Constitution and the other is governmental censorship.

Generally speaking, restrictions of free speech and expression must be directly related to the violation of other's rights.

Here the government of California is asking for a ban or restriction on a product because of a perceived harm to the person making the choice.

Obviously, there are many problems with that. First, the choice of a video game does not harm anyone else. There is no direct speech / expression to violating someone else's rights path. Secondly, if some lobbyist or interest group can ban free speech, what is next?

Lastly, it should be remembered that if the government can violate your rights and tell you what you cannot see, it can also tell you what you must see.

We have seen that with judges ruling that kids in school must take classes and courses that contradict the morals and religions of parents and students. (And in violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.)

I, for one, do not want the government to tell me what I can and cannot see simply because they "think" it is best. America was founded on the principle that the government exists to protect the rights of the citizens. Now we have moved away from that to dangerous territory where many believe that the government exists to bestow rights on the individual.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:54 AM, thank you for a great response. But I still contend that parents are not parenting like they should, and they are using issues such as this to try to shirk their responsibilities as parents. Blame it on the industry. Blame it on the government, but don't blame the (typically) two people who can really teach morals and ethics: the parents.


Anonymous said...


On the issue of parenting, there are parents that are, shall we say, "less than desirable." I don't buy into the notion that it is those less than desirable parents that are pushing for laws like this to be passed.

Frankly, it doesn't matter.

The issue is still whether people can have their rights stripped from them because someone in government feels they "know better."

If a parent is using video games and movies as babysitters or using them in neglecting the care of their child, then you go after the responsible parents. You go after the people that are causing the harm.

You don't say "because some parents are irresponsible, we are going to strip all parental rights, First Amendment rights and the right of liberty in choice from all people.

I deal with kids and parents a great deal so I do understand your point. I truly do. I am just not sure that it is germane to this discussion. I don't care so much who is attacking my rights and the rights of others, only that those rights are being attacked.

I am just unwilling to say "the rights of people can be stripped by the government because of the actions or in-actions of some."

The rights belong to the individual - not the government.

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