It might have gotten a little lost in all of the Election Day hoopla, but also on Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of Schwarzenegger vs. EMA, where the state of California is attempting to resurrect an anti-violent video game law rejected by several courts as unconstitutional.
You can read a full transcript of the arguments made in court Tuesday here: http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/08-1448.pdf.
My interpretation: Justice Antonin Scalia will vote against California. Several other justices are concerned that the law is too vague. They're all uncomfortable with the idea of giving children unfettered access to violent material. Yet nobody thinks it makes sense to treat 16- and 17-year-olds like 5-year-olds or 9-year-olds.
I have a feeling that when all is said and done, the video game industry will come out on top. At least, that's what I hope happens.
And while I started writing a long diatribe about why exactly that is, I'm not going to subject you to it. I'll summarize with a shorter diatribe instead:
1) The censorship of ideas is wrong, even when done with good intentions.
2) It's not government's job to legislate morality or take over the role of parents. Some might argue that the government wouldn't have to if all parents were doing their job, yet I must argue that government intrusion just creates more lazy parents. Why raise your kids yourself if the government will do it for you anyway? Like it or not, for good or ill, in a democracy the role of parenting must remain with parents, otherwise it ceases to be a democracy.
3) Kids act out the media they consume — always have, always will — and yet civilization has never come to an end. Some contend that video games aren't like other media, as games are interactive — and thus teach kids to be violent. And I think they must have forgotten what childhood is like, because the way I remember it, all media are interactive.
"Star Wars" had my brother and I busting each other's knuckles with wooden sticks as we fought like Jedi. Cowboy movies had us staging our own gunbattles. We even pretended we were in the video game "Pitfall." We'd try to get around our house without ever setting foot on the ground, because if you stepped down, you automatically were eaten by alligators; instead, we'd walk — and leap — all over our furniture, driving our mother nuts.
But I think I'm getting off point. I guess what I'm trying to really say is this: I can see that the backers of California's law have good intentions, but the "evil" they seek to protect everyone from is an evil solely of their own imagining, and an erosion of our democracy would be the price of their success.