Michael Klurfeld is a Chicago-based musician and technologist specializing in legal happenings and public policy. You can find him on Twitte Michael Klurfeld is a Chicago-based musician and technologist specializing in legal happenings and public policy. You can find him on Twitter here, or send him an email here.
The US Supreme Court announced today that it would review a California state law which makes the sale of violent video games to minors illegal.
Champions of the law, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and state Attorney General Jerry Brown, plan to appeal, claiming that the government has a duty to protect minors from what they consider inappropriate content.
But Mr. Schwarzenegger and Brown are misinformed at best and flat-out electioneering at worst. Misinformed implies that people involved in California’s lawmaking processes have no knowledge of the fate of similar laws from around the US, which is probably not the case.
The law is very clearly unconstitutional in that it infringes on free speech, the very first amendment to the US Constitution. Additionally, video game industry lobbyist groups make the excellent point that the law is bizarrely specific that minors not by violent video games. It’s still quite alright under this law to sell a ten-year old a violent movie.
Other states have passed laws banning the sale of violent video games to minor, and each state has had the law deemed unconstitutional. But the states fight the legal battles, if only to say that they are protecting your children in the hopes that you will re-elect whoever fights the blight of electronic games.
The worst part? That ultimately your tax dollars pay for this sort of idiocy. In some cases, states end up taking money out of healthcare programs to pay for the legal fees involved, especially if they’re taken to task by groups like the ACLU who demand a real court case.
But politicians don’t care. They’re happy to waste your money to get some extra votes in the next election.
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