SCOTUS Decision Allowing Violent Video Sales To Teens: Devastating Blow To Public Safety and Decency

The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision striking down California’s law banning the sale or rental of brutally violent, interactive video games to teenagers is a low point in this country’s culture. To say that the day this decision was issued (Brown vs. Entertainment Merchants Association,) was a “sad day,” is far, far too inadequate: It struck a new low point in this country’s culture – a culture once civil, dignified and decent; now soaked wet with the sewage of violence, depravity and perversity.

Readers of this blog know that I’ve written preemptively, and passionately, about this critically important decision that the court was weighing. If you haven’t read my previous posts on this case and this subject, I’d encourage anyone reading today’s post to click on that link immediately above in this paragraph, and read my two previous posts on this subject. If the above link doesn’t take you to the first of those two previous posts, you can simply go to the “Search” field on the right side of this page, at the bottom of the “Topics” directory, and enter the words “violent video games.” The results page should show you both of my previous two posts on this case. Click on each and you’ll be taken to the full post for each.

People know how I feel about the moral degradation of this country being openly fed by a judiciary that is all-consumed with the right of “commercial free speech.” This doctrine, extrapolated from the laudable original goals of the First Amendment, has been perverted to allow all sorts of depravity in this country. While some (primarily liberals and corporate media interests) will argue that this decision is technically accurate on a purely legal level, it is morally – and dangerously – flawed. These depraved, and highly interactive and realistic video “games” are so barbaric and sadistic that words fail an adequate description. If you care to know just what they are like, and what’s in them, I suggest you read both of my Part One and Part Two posts previously published on this blog.

Shockingly, one Justice (Antonin Scalia,) was reported to have partially justified his vote to strike down this law with the hollow observation that some fairy tales have violence within them, and since they’re not banned, why should violent videos be banned? To say that I’m stunned that this kind of a vapid, shallow, response came from the mind of a Supreme Court justice, is far too anemic. Scalia’s myopic response is akin to a nationally-renowned heart surgeon not knowing how to remove a Band-Aid. “Shocking” is far too minimal to describe this intellectually vacant analogy. As an experienced Massachusetts criminal defense attorney in practice over twenty years, I can assure you of this.

Note to Justice Scalia and the other justices striking down this law: Hansel and Gretel, and their analogous progeny:

A) Were largely comforting stories, intended for extremely young children, and did not have as their central focus and purpose the depiction of sadism and barbarism that words cannot adequately describe;
B) Were written words, not videos, which influence the developing teenage brain far more powerfully than anything in written form;
C) Were not graphically violent;
D) Did not encourage and require the interactive, sadistic participation by children in the most barbaric of violent acts; and
E) Did not reward children or other readers for interactively engaging in the most violent, barbaric acts imaginable.

Further, in works such as Grimm’s Fairy Tales:

• Shouts of glee from children were not shrieked when a police officer was cut to pieces.
• ‘High-fives’ weren’t flying as a young child was encouraged and rewarded for slitting the throat of, and decapitating, a woman.
• “Points” weren’t awarded to a young child watching a young woman begging for her life, as a murderous animal douses her with gasoline and sets her on fire.

Neurologically, audiovisual interaction and the “rewards” in these “games” without question stimulate areas of the developing brain to a degree never previously imagined. Numerous independent medical studies have confirmed this fact. Legitimate debate on this point, has long since passed. And the animation in these videos is NOT your parents’ Warner Bros. or Hanna-Barbera type of “cartoon”: The computer-generated imagery that is depicted (“CGI”) is so realistic that you would swear you are seeing an actual video of real people being tortured to death, in ways that shock the conscience of any sentient, decent human being. As in my previous posts on this subject, I will not give these twisted video game manufacturers free publicity by mentioning the names of some of these products here.

How many Americans know that the sale of adult magazines like Playboy and Penthouse are legally restricted to persons over age 18? Very few, I’d bet. But it’s a fact that they are. And why? Because the Supreme Court in the late 1960’s used sexual “obscenity” as the basis for allowing the regulation of adult magazines. The court’s rationale? States should have the right to regulate the sale of “harmful” material to underage minors. Yet the court now refuses to expand the definition of “obscene” to include these perverse, twisted violent video games, and allow them to be regulated accordingly. (And that is all they would have constitutionally needed to do, to uphold the California statute.) Thus, legally, the court’s position boils down to this: Images of naked women can be considered as “harmful” to underage teenagers, due to their being “obscene,” and therefore state statutes that forbid the sale of those magazines to teenagers under age 18 are permissible and legal. But interactive images of people being tortured and dismembered, of sadism and barbarity that would shock the most hardened mind, are not “harmful” to underage teens, and thus, cannot be regulated by states such as California.

This is one of the most indefensible rulings the Supreme Court has handed down in a long, long time, and our country is not only a less dignified, less civil, less moral country as a result – it a far less safe one. Mark my words, as a Boston/Dedham Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer, I can assure you: Teenage and youthful participation in violent crimes such rape/sexual assault, Domestic Violence, kidnapping, and even murder, will all increase.

Regardless of your faith, pray for this country. Honestly.