“Video games communicate ideas—and even messages.”
Those were the words of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the U.S. Supreme Court’s majority opinion Monday, agreeing with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Sacramento that California’s 2005 attempt to ban anyone under 18 years of age from buying or renting violent video games is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment right to free speech.
While that’s certainly great news for the video industry, which reportedly did business worth at least $18 billion in 2010, it’s safe to say that many parents in Altadena and beyond probably side with the two dissenting judges in the Supreme Court who disagreed with the majority opinion.
America’s founding fathers, wrote Justice Clarence Thomas, did not envision freedom of speech to “include a right to speak to minors (or a right of minors to access speech) without going through the minors’ parents or guardians.”
The highest court’s other dissenting voice—that of Justice Stephen Breyer—deemed the issue as less about censorship and more about education. "Sometimes, children need to learn by making choices for themselves," Breyer wrote. "Other times, choices are made for children—by their parents, by their teachers, and by the people acting democratically through their governments."
So Altadena parents, what do you think about this decision? Do you approve of a ban on violent video games for children?
And what do you think about the games themselves? Do you let your child play them? Do you think they are dangerous for kids? Or are they relatively harmless?
To lead the discussion we turn to our local moms council, with Courtney Scrabeck, Nina Malone, and Deborah Graff of the local MOMS club, as well as local moms Leslie Aitken and Nadine Isenberg, and Laura Monteros.