Court: Calif. can't ban violent video game sales

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  • Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah
    June 29, 2011 12:01 p.m.

    @ worf: If it is not the Government restricting it, than it is not a violation of Freedom of Speech and the Constitution.

    Employers can fire employees for violating the terms of employment - including if the employee says something that goes against company policy.

    Freedom of Speech does not mean freedom of repurcussions - it is a protection from the Government, not carte blanche to say whatever you want wherever you want whenever you want.

    This case shot down government restrictions - that doesn't mean you have to buy the game for your kids - you still have the personal right to not subject yourself to that speech - much the way an employer or an organization can protect themselves from speech with which they disagree.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    June 29, 2011 1:19 a.m.

    Kalindra | 7:10 p.m. June 28, 2011
    Salt Lake City, Utah

    Government restrictions or not, people are fired or fined for making certain remarks. Many of the remarks were not meant to be insultive. There are unwritten laws. Either way, it's punishment and not freedom of speech. Be careful of what say.

  • Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah
    June 28, 2011 7:10 p.m.

    @ worf: What laws are on the books to prevent people from saying negative things about non-whites or gays?

    Oh, that's right - there aren't any.

    Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from social consequences - it means freedom from government restrictions.

    This law would have been a government restriction.

    There are social consequences for making violent video games (or there can be) - namely people speaking out against the industry and not supporting it by buying the games - the exact same social consequences that come into play when people make negative comments about things.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    June 28, 2011 5:39 p.m.

    Freedom of speech? Look what happens if you say anything close to negative on non-whites or gays. Even talking out on a rival sports team can get you in trouble. Violent videos are ok.

  • myself Salt Lake City, UT
    June 28, 2011 1:25 p.m.

    three11stu is right. There is nothing that will stop businesses from regulating who buys their games. Because this law was repealed everything will stay the SAME. Stores will still prevent kids under the age of 17 from purchasing rated M video games. AND on top of that parents have the ability to put parental controls on their gaming consoles. Every single gaming console available has parental control software. Stop trying to make the goverment do the work for the parents.

  • Arm of Orion Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 28, 2011 12:30 p.m.

    Never in my days have I seen so many "constitutional scholars" pontificating about an issue wherein they know very little about.

    First as has been stated, and ignored, the Video Game industry always limits the sales of M games to those above the age of 17.

    Second there is no law limiting the afforementioned business practice seeing that they are private entities and the government can interfere only cases of gross negligence on the part of the retailers. Seeing that there has been no negligence on the part of the retailers there is no reason for the gov't to step in.

    Third all of those who state that Video Games are causing the downfall of our society you sound like those who said that about movies, musicals, plays (this goes back to Shakespeare), tv, radio, art, and novels. Come on guys video games are fun and there is no evidence to even suggest well balanced individuals will become murderes even if they are children.

    So I ask you detractors what is your point. If it is self regulated, safe, and not the downfall of our society what are you opposing? Something new and therefore, according to you, dangerous?

  • Lone Ranger Tooele, UT
    June 28, 2011 9:28 a.m.

    Statutorially required seat belts? Statutorially required motorcycle helmets? Mandatory child restraints? Statutorially denying folks a ride in the back of pickup trucks? Surely those adorned with the black robes can understand the implication of aiding and abetting the deterioration of our children's values, attitudes,and mores. The things we are exposed to naturally become a part of us..... a process called assimilation (a sociology term). It is not without the rapid advancement of age that I look forward to going the way of the world regarding the debasing influences which we bow in the mistaken conception of superior intellect.

    HiO Silver

  • Schwa South Jordan, UT
    June 28, 2011 12:54 a.m.

    So violence is ok for children, but a topless woman is not. Am I the only person who thinks Europe has it right and we don't?

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    June 27, 2011 11:36 p.m.

    More of the right wing trying to force their morals and ethics and create an even larger government.

  • Bubble SLC, UT
    June 27, 2011 10:07 p.m.

    @ Floyd Johnson: "Previously (according to Thomas), the First Ammendement did not guarantee the freedom of speech to minors."

    I would like you (or Thomas or anyone else who cares to try) to provide the title of one article or book or writing or any other source by one of the Founding Fathers in which they state the guarantees of the Bill of Rights do not extend to children, youth, minors, or individuals under a certain age.

    There isn't one. At no point did the Founding Fathers ever say that the Constitution does not apply to children. To claim that children do not have and deserve the protections of the Constitution and the First Amendment is a gross error and a very scary idea to promote.

  • three11stu Saratoga Springs, UT
    June 27, 2011 9:44 p.m.

    John Pack Lambert and FLoyd Johnson:
    Neither of you are understanding what took place today. You are right in saying that there was a law prohibiting R rated movies. I never said there was a law. It is PROTECTED under free speech. Same as video games. The supreme court DID NOT state that video games cannot be REGULATED. They stated that it is unconstitutional to make the selling to minors illegal, just like movies. The exact same laws that apply to movies also apply to video games. It is free speech. Video games are not any different than movies.
    To say that this law will do away with the ESRB and any regulation of the industry is completely false. What they were trying to do in California was to hold video games to a different level than the other forms of speech, and this ruling stated that they are the same.

  • Floyd Johnson Broken Arrow, OK
    June 27, 2011 8:47 p.m.

    three11stu - There is no law regarding admittance to R rated movies, simply industry policies. Therefore, theaters can use their discretion in admittance. In contrast to movies, there has now been a Supreme Court ruling stating that the First Amendment guarantees the right of minors to purchase violent video games. If the State cannot prohibit the sale to minors, it is reasonable to assume that a store policy prohibiting a sale would also be be in violation of this ruling.

    Bubble - Previously (according to Thomas), the First Ammendement did not guarantee the freedom of speech to minors. This ruling expands the original intent of the First Ammendment and essentially alters the Constitution. This legal precedent has the same effect as a federal law passed by Congress. Basically, the Supreme Court has written a law.

    The position of Thomas is correct. "The practices and beliefs of the founding generation establish that "the freedom of speech," as originally understood, does not include a right to speak to minors (or a right of minors to access speech) without going through the minors' parents or guardians...." This ruling extends new rights to minors. The Court is wrong.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    June 27, 2011 8:42 p.m.

    If the regulation of the purchase of this material by children under a certain age is a violation of the constitution than how can anyone do it? There is a failing in your logic. Even when sale of things to minors is illegal people still do it, where it is legal they will do it significantly more. Some stores may hold to certain content age restrictions but if they do not have the law behind them, there will be violations and they will be common and widespread.

  • three11stu Saratoga Springs, UT
    June 27, 2011 8:32 p.m.

    @Christy: The defense to that is easy. They DO NOT allow the selling of those materials to 13 year old boys. A 13 year old cannot buy a video game that is rated M for Mature, just like that same 13 year old boy cannot go and see an R rated movie with those things.
    This is not about protecting corporations, as the video game companies do not sell these games to children anyways. This is about protecting freedom of speech, which, like it or not, video games fall under. Just like movies and books and magazines and music, video games are a form of speech, and should be protected just like every other form of speech.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    June 27, 2011 8:31 p.m.

    Scalia's argument of citing violent fairy tales is flawed. It confuses visual and non-visual imagery. More disturbingly it confuses imagery you recieve and imagery you act out.

    Violently acting out activities in a game is proactively participating in it. This is clearly different from vieing violence as a non-participant.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    June 27, 2011 8:27 p.m.

    I like Thomas' dissent the most. Breyer also has some good points. However even Roberts and Alito being willing to consider upholding a narrower law is not encoraging. That would only give a sure 4 to a narrower law. There is still hope for a narrower law, and I hope that Yee is able to get such a law crafted. This is a sad day for decency.

  • Christy Beaverton, OR
    June 27, 2011 7:04 p.m.

    ‎Dissenting Justice Breyer asked, "What sense does it make to forbid selling to a 13-year-old boy a magazine with an image of a nude woman, while protecting a sale to that 13-year-old of an interactive video game in which he actively, but virtually, binds and gags the woman, then tortures and kills her?"

    So, what's your defense of that?

  • Christy Beaverton, OR
    June 27, 2011 7:02 p.m.

    "The industry has taken great measures to protect children and prevent access to this content."


    Really? Why did Justice Scalia bother to note that books given to children have "no shortage of gore."

    "Grimm's Fairy Tales ... are grim indeed. As her just deserts for trying to poison Snow White, the wicked queen is made to dance in red hot slippers "till she fell dead on the floor,"

    Oh, yes, Justice Scalia, scary fairy tales in a book, are comparable to virtually murdering someone in 3D, and having virtual sex with a prostitute. Give me a break.

    This ruling is about protecting corporations, over children. Yes, parents need to parent. And there are parents who will buy these games and let their children play them. That is their CHOICE. I'm not one of those parents. And I know there are kids out there we need to worry about. This ruling takes no rights away from any adult, just children. Kind of the way we don't allow them to buy porn or cigarettes.

  • MarieDevine Divine-Way Kansas City, MO
    June 27, 2011 5:32 p.m.

    We would not have this problem if we followed the Ten Commandments: Exodus 20:4-6

    Make no likeness of anything in heaven, earth or under the water
    neither bow down to it.

    I remember saying, If I do not make it, how will I bow down to it. Others make it. We bow down to it when we must maintain it with our money and efforts or we honor it as "art."

    Picture and images draw us into many expensive endeavors and useless and mind damaging practices, sports and competitions; and they waste time that could be used enjoying people and helping our family and community. Pride and vanity traps: college and military for cap and gown and military uniform pictures. Big weddings for pictures. School pictures yearly, Vacations for picture memories, pride and vanity of clothing, make-up and hair-styles. God is against all these and more. Read Isaiah 2 & 3 to see what God plans to destroy or what He would rather we not be involved in.

  • Kass SLC, UT
    June 27, 2011 5:29 p.m.

    From the article: ""The practices and beliefs of the founding generation establish that "the freedom of speech," as originally understood, does not include a right to speak to minors (or a right of minors to access speech) without going through the minors' parents or guardians," Thomas wrote."

    Well, that kind of depends. Children were considered the property of their parents (particularly their father) so technically I guess you would have to go through their parents/father for certain things.

    However, at the same time, there really was no distinction between children and adults - it was not illegal to hire a child into a sweat shop and make them work 20 hours a day, it was not illegal to beat children, and there was no such thing as "child" porn or prostitution because even though children were involved in those things, there were no laws against them on the basis of children being involved.

    Thomas' opinion clearly ignores the facts of the time. If you really want to go by when the Constitution was written, you would have to allow children the same access as adults - a much looser standard than what we have today.

  • Bubble SLC, UT
    June 27, 2011 5:17 p.m.

    @ Floyd Johnson: Legislating is the process of making a law. The Supreme Court did not make a law. They merely stated that a law that was made by California is in conflict with the US Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, and, as such, cannot be enforced.

    And you are right - this would not have made it through Congress, because Congress is not charged with the duty of hearing and deciding cases.

    The rest of your post is off topic as there was no law written or created and, therefor, none of the things you say this law prevents are prevented.

  • three11stu Saratoga Springs, UT
    June 27, 2011 4:58 p.m.

    Floyd: This law in no way will prevent store policies that prohibit sales to minors. For example, it is not illegal for a child to go to an R rated movie. There isn't even a law that says movies must be rated. However, there are guidlines in place to prevent children from accessing this material without parental consent.
    It is the exact same for video games. This ruling stated that you cannot make the sell of video games illegal to minors. However, the guidlines still remain, which stated that minors cannot Mature video games until they are 17.

  • Not So Fast Salt Lake City, UT
    June 27, 2011 4:53 p.m.

    I don't think people are understanding the ruling at all.

    It does NOT allow children to go into a store and buy a game any more than it allows a child to buy a ticket to a R rated movies. It simply lets the theater and the game store monitor sales without making the federal government enforce the law with fines.

    It definitely, absolutely puts the onus on parents. I does not give children free reign to buy anything they please. Stores are still free to not sell adult material to minors. Which as pointed out, they already prohibit.

  • Floyd Johnson Broken Arrow, OK
    June 27, 2011 4:11 p.m.

    Clarence Thomas was correct. The question before the court was not: "should children purchase violent video games?" It was: "Does the First Ammendment guarantee the right of a child to purchase video games?" It was not the intent of the authors of the constitution to extend this privelege; therefore, the issue should have remained in the control of the States. The Supreme Court is legislating, there is no way this would have passed through congress.

    three11stu - This law will likely prevent store policies that prohibit sales to minors.

    DeltaFoxtrot - This law sidesteps parental control by allowing children to purchase games directly. Children no longer need parents to buy games for them, the "parents shouldn't buy them" argument is no longer relevant.

  • Arm of Orion Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 27, 2011 2:54 p.m.

    Carman you silly silly man. You do realize that all stores I go to ID me when I decide to buy a video game rated M. I remember at one point two 16 yr old kids tried to buy Halo 3. They were denied by Gamestop. Not only that but a parent had to come in and buy it for them. Dude have you read the original stories they are terribly violent. Cinderella's sisters eyes get pecked out for crying out loud. Dude research video games before shooting out an opinion you might be enlightened.

  • Darrel Eagle Mountain, UT
    June 27, 2011 2:45 p.m.


    The movie standards are purely voluntary. There are no federal rules and regulations governing them. Enforcement is also voluntary for each theater.

    The video game industry as a whole does a far better job of self regulation and enforcement than almost any other industry. The major retailers will not sell M rated games to minors. That being said, if a child wants to buy a game, and has the resources, they will find a way. More often than not, it is the parent or legal guardian buying it for them.

    The reason the decency standards are lowering is because it is selling. If people wouldn't buy Grand Theft Auto, they will not make anymore games, guaranteed. I am a very serious video gamer, but when I see an M rating on a box, it makes me think twice, and with very little exception, I will not buy the game. I monitor what my children play.

    Bottom line, it starts with good parenting. Banning the sale starts a slippery slope. If we start with games that are violent, it becomes easier to ban "controversial" and so on.

  • carman Alpine, UT
    June 27, 2011 1:46 p.m.

    Sad. The standards of decency continue to fall to newer lows. And I don't understand how we can bar a child from seeing a violent R rated film in a movie theater based on societal standards, but allow that same child to buy just as violent of content in the form of a game and say it is ok. Talk about a double standard. As for the Justice's comparison to Snow White or Hansel and Gretel to the graphic violence in full color in some of these games is just intellectual stupidity run wild. Again, sad.

  • Led Zeppelin II Bountiful, UT
    June 27, 2011 12:51 p.m.

    Banning freedom is what you see in Communist countries. Venesuela banned violent video games a while back. I sure dont want government to babysit us and controll everything we do. It is up to the parents to teach their children right from wrong. Government always teaches us wrong. Look at history.

  • Not So Fast Salt Lake City, UT
    June 27, 2011 12:33 p.m.

    The ban is the same for games as for movies. Police don't patrol and fine theaters if it lets kids into 'R' or 'NC-17' movies and they shouldn't do it for games. Both theaters and game outlets know that parents will like them better if they restrict sales based on ratings.

    In a study it was found that stores already restrict sales most of the time based on ratings.

    Making the stores or chains responsible and imposing fines is not the right place to look. I agree with most here that parents need to know and take a role in what games are sold and played. I am not sure they don't already in many cases.

  • three11stu Saratoga Springs, UT
    June 27, 2011 11:58 a.m.

    I completely agree with the Supreme Court on this one. Society is working to protect children from Violent and Innapropriate content in regards to video games. Every game has a rating, whether it be E(everyone) T(teen) or M(mature). Pretty much any store that you go to in American, whether it be Gamestop, Wal-mart, or Target, or any other store requires that in order to purchase a game that is rated M, you must be 17 years old. There are also parental controls on every console that you can allow which games will be played on the console. You could not allow any M rated game to be played on the console. The industry has taken great measures to protect children and prevent access to this content. There is no need for the government to be involved involved in this process.
    I am 27 years old, and I still get asked for my ID at gamestop when I buy games that are rated Mature.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    June 27, 2011 11:42 a.m.

    The issue here is whether children (minors) can or cannot be prevented from purchasing/renting a violent game.

    To argue that it is the parent's sole responsibility to regulate this is reckless. Would we use the same logic for firearms, cigarettes, pornography, etc.?

    We allow adults to purchase these things but we prohibit minors from doing so. If it is just an issue of making the parents to always be solely responsible, why does that not apply to these products (and others) as well? If a kid buys a firearm, cigarettes, or pornography could we not just say "it's the parents job to take care of this"?

    If we want children to retain access to these games via their parents oversight, then upholding the law would be the right move. Then, a parent could purchase/rent the game for the child if the parent so chooses.

    This decision is a slippery slope. If we cannot forbid a child purchasing hyper violent material because it "restrict[s] the ideas to which children may be exposed" then why can we forbid them from purchasing pornography? The same argument would seem to apply.

  • Jeff R. Sheridan, WY
    June 27, 2011 10:47 a.m.

    So the parents cant take away the game their 13 year old bought so we need to have the Cali Government do the job for them? Im I missing something here. What ever happend to the responsability of the parents to control what their kid does. If a 13 year old buys a game, and the parents dont like it, why cant the parents just forbid the kid from playing it. Why do we need to spend money on what parents should be doing. More big government trying to do the parents job.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    June 27, 2011 10:40 a.m.

    Where are the parents?

  • DeltaFoxtrot West Valley, UT
    June 27, 2011 10:40 a.m.

    Parents: If you don't want your child playing the game then DON'T BUY IT.

    There's an epidemic in this country... over the past 10 years parents have apparently forgotten how to say NO to their children.

  • Noodlekaboodle Salt Lake City, UT
    June 27, 2011 10:14 a.m.

    @ Darrel
    Those 3 consoles also allow you to block movies based on ratings as well. But either way if your kid wants to play these games they will get them, regardless of what laws are in place.

  • ThatsSoUtah Washington, UT
    June 27, 2011 10:09 a.m.

    @Russ N
    I'm a little bit split on the whole thing. On one hand, the regulation of legal information/art of any nature is a dangerous path to start down. The government rarely stops when it gets started.

    On the other hand, after reading the dissenting justice's opinion, I was slightly swayed to rationalizing the ban.

    However, this is not a tool that parents should need to decide what's best for their kids. How are these children obtaining funds/transportation to buy these games without their parents' knowledge? How are these kids playing these games without their parents' knowledge? Pay attention what your children are doing and it frequently isn't an issue. The same goes for movies, internet, and other offensive material.

  • Darrel Eagle Mountain, UT
    June 27, 2011 9:45 a.m.


    All 3 major video game consoles (Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Wii) have a rating system on them that parents can very easily set up. If a video game passes a certain threshold it will not allow the game to be played.

    Again, it goes back to parenting.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    June 27, 2011 9:33 a.m.

    Sorry. Mistyped.

    Should have said, "I agree with the dissent noted from Justice Thomas."

    June 27, 2011 9:32 a.m.

    Bad decision. This is not about limiting government regulation. It's about increasing parental regulation. By striking down this law the Court has effectively taken the power away from parents to make decisions for their children and given power to children to decide what's best for themselves.

  • ThatsSoUtah Washington, UT
    June 27, 2011 9:30 a.m.

    A lot of game systems already have parental control systems in place. The problem is that most parents don't bother to set them up. Parents are lazy and want to blame someone else for their problems and rely on the government to make sure their children "do the right thing".

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    June 27, 2011 9:30 a.m.

    I with the dissent noted from Justice Thomas.

  • unaffiliated_person Saratoga Springs, UT
    June 27, 2011 9:19 a.m.

    Can't modern TV's block content at certain ratings? Why not extend the TV rating system to games and use parental controls on the TV. Using laws to ban them will only spawn a black market and divert law enforcement resources.

  • Pagan Salt Lake City, UT
    June 27, 2011 8:54 a.m.

    What happened to 'personal responsibility'...

    by parents?