California's attempt to ban the sale of violent games to children has been struck down by the Supreme Court in a 7-2 ruling. The state argued it had a legal obligation to protect children from graphic images when the industry fails to do so. The court denied that argument, saying the law overreached by denying parents who think the games are a harmless hobby their First Amendment right to make that choice. Is it possible they were both right?
Is Grand Theft Auto VII really bad for little Billy? Evidence says yes. From Mario and his brother to whoever is killing prostitutes in the latest GTA, violence is rewarded virtually across the board in video games, from gold coins to stacks of cash. Give Baby Albert a treat every time he punches you, and the learned behavior that follows shouldn't be too surprising. It is almost common knowledge that conditioning affects behavior, and children emulate what they see. The problem is, the ban comes a few generations too late. This generation of parents has grown up in an electronic environment-- the age if internet, television, and video games. We grew up on some of the very violent imagery in question, so there is little public debate or discourse about violence anymore. If the state argument is that such legislation is logical and good for society overall, the state should recognize that doing what's "good for you" hardly motivates individuals, let alone society as a whole. Granted it took legislation to pry the trans fats from our cold, fat hands, but popular opinion wasn't far behind. The "No Trans Fat" movement, stopping something we learned was bad for us individually and collectively, only happened because our fatty foods could keep their fatty taste by other means. It wasn't that overweight America decided to go on a nationwide diet, but more about what America didn't do-- throw a fat riot over our right to snack ["Give me Fritos, or give me death!"]. It was a lack of reaction, not action that allowed a positive change to happen. By re-branding instead of banning, we get "No Trans Fat" labels that make us feel better about things like Baconnaise. Instead of pushing legislation, California should have lobbied the FCC. It was the labeling of trans fats that made the label "No Trans Fats" valuable. Instead of legislation against the undesirable action, California should have funneled the money spent on failed legislation towards more accurate labeling of video game content. Video games are still a relatively new industry, with a rating system far less refined than film and TV. Just like any technology, video games can be used for good or bad, able like any new or old technology, to teach more than just violence. Considering 80% of games rated "E for Everyone" contain violence, taxpayer money would have been better used making the "No Violence" label as valuable as "No Trans Fats". We all know that smoking is a proven killer, but no legislation is pending against it. Instead, lawmakers forcibly educate the public and let popular opinion sway over time. It is your right as an American to blow smoke rings in your kid's face while he or she plays "5 Minutes to Kill Yourself". That sounds like something our Supreme Court would support.