Video Game Victory

 Posted by on 2 December 2006 at 11:45 am  Uncategorized
Dec 022006

David Rehm recently sent me the following e-mail about yet another court ruling against legislative restrictions on video games. I was unaware of this news, as I try to keep myself as far away from video games as possible. (I tend to play obsessively if I play at all.) So I appreciate David’s alert, particularly since it was in a form I could easily post! David writes:

Yet again, a law banning video game sales on the basis of content (violence, language, and/or sexuality) has been struck down for violating the first amendment. This is the latest in a series of nine such court rulings in just six years, and yet the legislators continue to pass similar laws in other states for what they consider the positive PR–knowing full well that the laws will be shot down by the courts, not to mention all the expenses incurred by the taxpayers for both the creation of the legislation as well as the subsequent court fees to repeal them.

The Video Game Voters Network has done a great job of keeping up on this trend (in addition to their latest press release included below, also see here for the full list), and the Entertainment Software Association has done a good job of both fighting these battles and producing some decent press releases (see here). But it surprises me that Objectivists aren’t writing on this issue to my knowledge. While the issue of video games might not seem fundamental, the news of the courts consistently upholding the first amendment against such a barrage of obviously religious-motivated legislation, as well as the black eye this should well give these legislators for undertaking such bogus endeavors, would all seem to be fuel for some great Op-Eds and the like.

On a slightly different note, can I just point out the absurdity that there exists such an organization as the “video game voters network”? Here’s a large enough group of people who realized that their first amendment rights were being violated, and yet they couldn’t find a significant political party to support who are defending such rights on principle, so they had to organize themselves to create their own organization!

Here is the press release from the Video Game Voters Network.

Big Win in Louisiana – Victory for Video Games and Free Speech

This week in Louisiana, Federal District Court Judge James Brady struck down a law that attempted to ban the sale of some video games to minors. This marks the ninth court ruling in six years that has declared laws like these to be an unconstitutional affront to First Amendment rights, proving once again that video games are protected speech.

This ruling is particularly remarkable as the judge ruled directly from the bench, rather than handing down a written decision with legal explanation. This decisive judgment points to the weak case the state of Louisiana had built to defend a clearly unconstitutional law.

In his ruling the judge chided the state for having overlooked the many other cases where laws like Louisiana’s had been ruled unconstitutional. Judge Brady went on to say, “…less restrictive alternatives [which would achieve the state's goals] exist, including encouraging awareness of the voluntary ESRB video game rating system (which provides guidance to parents and other consumers), and the availability of parent controls that allow each household to determine which games their children can play.”

Louisiana’s failed law, like the other state laws that have been similarly rejected, have cost taxpayers time and money. Many states have already been ordered to pay legal fees to the video game industry for the costs of protecting video games in court. The industry will now be filing suit against Louisiana to recover the legal fees accrued in going to court over this law.

Thank you,
Video Game Voters Network

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