Thank God… American kids can now know the joy that comes with shooting people in the face

In a 7-2 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the entertainment industry today, ruling that minors had the right to purchase violent video games. The following comes from the LA Times.

…”Like books, plays and movies, video games communicate ideas,” said Justice Antonin Scalia in his majority opinion Monday. And he said there was “no tradition in this country of specially restricting children’s access to depictions of violence… Grimm’s Fairy Tales, for example, are grim indeed.”

The decision, coming on the term’s last day, highlights a consistent theme of the high court under Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.: Freedom of speech is almost always a winner, even if the context is unusual…

Last week, the court struck down a Vermont law that barred the sale of private drug prescription records. The court said the data was “speech” and could be traded in the “marketplace of ideas.”…

I guess I’ll have to go and check out Grimm’s Fairy Tales again, I don’t remember the graphic depictions of prostitutes getting their heads blown off with shotguns after being raped.

I’m not typically one to say that we need to restrict information from kids, or anyone for that matter, but the idea of six year olds playing first-person shooter games strikes me as wrong. And, yes, I’ve read the reports that state there’s no conclusive link between those who enjoy kicking someone’s brains out on their computer monitor and those who do it in real life. I just know that it’s absolute bullshit to suggest that these vibrant, bloody, moving images of murder are somehow comparable to the woodcut illustrations that accompany Grimm’s Fairy Tales. It’s like saying that kids should be able to buy copies of the porn film Airtight Granny because Three’s Company plots often revolved around sexual innuendo.

OK, as long as I’m ranting about today’s kids, can someone tell me how old people need to be to buy pot from Michigan’s so-called medical marijuana dispensaries? I saw a few kids that couldn’t have been any older than 16 going into a place the other day, and, while I’m sure that they had terrible carpal tunnel from having to constantly pull their baggy jeans up, and turn their baseball caps sideways, I’m inclined to say that they should have to suffer for a few years, like the rest of us had to. (I should add that I didn’t see these kids come out with pot, so the manager of the place very well could have asked them to leave. I just saw them go in and approach the counter, in their Insane Clown Posse t-shirts.)

Anyway, back to video games, I’d like to think that the Supreme Court is really doing this in order to safeguard freedom of speech. I’d like to think that the rights of kids is really something that motivates them. I can’t help but think, however, that it has more to do with what Walmart and the rest of corporate America wants. If they really gave a fuck about free speech – real free speech – wouldn’t they have torn down Bush’s 1984-inspired, barbed wire-enclosed “Free Speech Zones”? Wouldn’t they be fighting to protect the rights of whistle blowers? Given the evidence, I think it’s pretty clear that, despite what they say, they only love free speech in so far as they can use it as an excuse to further their pro-corporate agenda.

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  1. dragon
    Posted June 27, 2011 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    I was walking home from the Brewery, when all of the sudden a rowdy group of dope smoking mudlarks ran by and grabbed my beret and called me a pussy!

  2. Posted June 28, 2011 at 5:15 am | Permalink

    In their early forms, many “fairy tales” were absolutely brutal. Consider, for example, the story of “sleeping beauty”.

    In early versions, she is woken not with a gentle kiss from a prince, but he rapes her and she gives birth to two children, one of whom sucks her finger, drawing out the piece of flax that had put her to sleep. She and the prince are secretly married, but his other wife becomes jealous and orders first the children and then the mother cooked and served as meals (either to herself or to the prince, depending on the version), but is instead served various wild animals. When she discovers the trick, the jealous wife prepares a pit of poisonous snakes and other venomous creatures, but the prince discovers it and the first wife is thrown into the pit in Sleeping Beauty’s place.

    In the Grimm version of Cinderella (“Aschenputtel”), the stepsisters try to trick the prince by cutting off parts of their feet in order to get the slipper to fit, and in the end pigeons peck out the stepsisters’ eyes, leaving them as blind beggars for the rest of their lives.

    In many early versions of “Red Riding Hood”, the wolf tricks the girl into eating her own grandmother, has sex with her, and then eats her. In the earliest printed version, by Charles Perrault, the story ends there. A common euphemism in 17th century France was that a girl who lost her virginity had “seen the wolf”.

    Then there’s Bluebeard, a story often omitted from modern fairy tale books, about a nobleman who kills wife after wife and keeps their corpses hanging on hooks in a locked room in his house.

  3. Edward
    Posted June 28, 2011 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    Damn, Madler. Do you do birthday parties?

  4. Tommy
    Posted June 28, 2011 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    To tell the truth, I am more concerned about a blogging parent with a young child who is familiar with a porn film titled Airtight Granny than any about some silly old Supreme Court decision.

  5. cmadler
    Posted June 28, 2011 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    How could I forget “Snow White” (“Schneewittchen”)! In the Grimm brothers’ first edition, the villian was not a step-mother, but her own mother. As punishment in the end, a pair of heated iron shoes are forced onto her feet, and she is forced dance until she drops dead.

  6. Mr. X
    Posted June 28, 2011 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    Looks like I need to give the Brothers Grimm another chance.

    As for the Supreme Court, I don’t believe they should be deciding cases upon German folklore. Kids shouldn’t have easy access to games in which they assume the roles of mass murderers. I don’t give a fuck what some twisted Germans told their kids in the Dark Ages.

  7. Mr. X
    Posted June 28, 2011 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    And how hypocritical is it for them to say that kids can virtually participate in violent acts, but not even see an image of a real female breast?

    In dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer said the California law was only a “modest restriction on expression,” which he said was amply supported by research on the effect of video violence.

    Breyer also questioned the logic of restricting minors’ access to portrayals of nudity but not carnage.

    “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?” Breyer said.

    Read more:

  8. Mr. X
    Posted June 28, 2011 at 8:34 am | Permalink


    The law struck down Monday by the U.S. Supreme Court would have banned the sale or rental to anyone under 18 of a video game that:

    1) Allows players the options of “killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being.”

    2) Shows those acts in a way that a “reasonable person” would find “appeals to a deviant or morbid interest of minors” and is “patently offensive to prevailing standards in the community as to what is suitable for minors.”

    3) Also lacks “serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors.”

    Read more:

  9. LaidOffTeacherPatti
    Posted June 28, 2011 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    I’ve read some of the Grimm tales (go figure) and as cmadler says, yes, they are quite horrifying. Having said that, the extreme violence against women in some of those games is what concerns me the most. Even the “heroic” women tend to be portrayed unrealistically (see: Lara Croft…although I may have my own Lara action figure that is used when the crew & I have action figure drinking parties. Might have added some fluff around the mid-section though :)). In my FB status update, I mentioned that while I appreciate the ladies getting their panties in a bunch about some breastfeeding woman being told to leave a bus, I would REALLY appreciate it if women got our collective panties in bunches over stuff like THIS; to wit, the portrayal of women in certain video games, rap songs, movies. Where’s the outrage for stuff like this?!

  10. Glen S.
    Posted June 28, 2011 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    I’m truly confused by this ruling. By and large, I’m support the idea that adults should be able to read/watch/experience mostly whatever they choose — aside from material which exploits non-consenting adults, or minors.

    On the other hand, there are already (rightly, I think) a multitude of precedents for placing limits on what minors can read, watch, do, purchase, etc. — based on the valid assumption that, because they are not yet adults, they cannot be expected to have a sufficient level of maturity to handle these “adult” aspects of life. Within a range of ages (say, 16-21) we don’t allow young people to smoke, drink, drive, vote, watch certain movies, etc. So, why should extremely violent video games be any different?

    Also — while I’m not surprised that corporations continue to create and distribute such violent/offensive “entertainment” (anything to make a buck, right?) I can’t imagine why any parent would allow their children to purchase and/or consume it. That’s, of course, assuming some parents even know what their kids are buying or doing — which is a whole other problem.

    I’m not a prude, and I don’t think kids necessarily benefit from being shielded from all that’s negative or unpleasant in the world … but I can’t imagine anyone thinking it’s a good idea for young people — who often are quite insecure and impressionable — to be spending so much time immersed in, and interacting with, such violent and graphic imagery.

  11. Walt
    Posted June 28, 2011 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    In the words of the late, great John Denver

    That which is denied becomes that which is most desired, and that which is hidden becomes that which is most interesting. Consequently, a great deal of time and energy is spent trying to get at what is being kept from you.

  12. Meta
    Posted June 28, 2011 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    It’s not clear that kids subjected to this kind of material are unaffected.

    From Scientific American.

    The U.S. Supreme Court’s 7-2 ruling Monday (pdf) that California cannot regulate the sale or rental of violent video games to minors is the latest chapter in the long-simmering debate over the impact of aggression in the virtual world on children’s behavior in the real world. The high court’s ruling is based on law and politics; it noted that states don’t have the right to restrict children’s First Amendment rights. Still, the science to date suggests that violent video games do negatively affect the behavior of children…

    California’s 2005 law was written by Senator Leland Yee (D–San Francisco), who is a child psychologist. In a statement on his Web site, Yee expressed disappointment today’s ruling, accusing the majority of the Supreme Court with “once again put the interests of corporate America before the interests of our children.”

    Yee’s stance on whether to let children under the age of 18 play video games depicting violent scenarios—murder, car jackings and the like—is that such games cause “an increase in aggressive behavior, physiological desensitization to violence, and decrease [in] pro-social behavior,” according to an earlier statement on Yee’s site. His position lines up with those of the American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

    Among other supporters of Yee’s position is a group of psychologists and social researchers led by Craig Anderson, director of Iowa State University’s Center for the Study of Violence, who last year authored a paper that pointed to “clear and convincing” evidence that “media violence is one of the causal factors of real-life violence and aggression.” The study, entitled “The Influence of Media Violence on Youth” and published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest, concluded that “research on violent television and films, video games, and music reveals unequivocal evidence that media violence increases the likelihood of aggressive and violent behavior in both immediate and long-term contexts.”

    Rowell Huesmann, head of the University of Michigan Aggression Research Program, supported Anderson’s findings at the time but acknowledged in that same issue of Psychological Science in the Public Interest that this was unlikely to change the perception that the issue is undecided because “some studies have yielded null effects, because many people are concerned that the implications of the research threaten freedom of expression, and because many people have their identities or self-interests closely tied to violent video games.”

  13. TaterSalad
    Posted June 28, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Seems the writer of this above article has no influence on what his family purchases at the store. Get some balls and say no the purchase instead of wanting government to do everything for you! Pathetic! when you get old, will you want big government to wipe your rear end also?

  14. TaterSalad
    Posted June 28, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Definition of a typical libtard:

    “The principal feature of American lib-tardism is sanctimoniousness. By loudly denouncing all bad things–war and hunger and date rape–liberals testify to their own terrific goodness. More important, they promote themselves to membership in a self-selecting elite of those who care deeply about such things… It’s a kind of natural aristocracy, and the wonderful thing about this aristocracy is that you don’t have to be brave, smart, strong, or even lucky to join it, you just have to be libtard.”

    – P. J. O’Rourke:

    Here is your typical liberal, Barack Obama supporter:


    ………and then we have this:



    This is why the country is in the mess we are in. These are the typical people who support and vote for Democrats. Why do they vote this way. A simple answer of one word: “Entitlements”. The Party of Free!



    6. …………..and then we have this typical moonbat liberal, Joy Behar:

    7. At $174,000.00 per year plus expenses, Linda Sanchez (D), California just can’t make it from week to week! Pathetic!

    8. Now we have your typical liberal/Democratic Congresswoman:

    9. Twelve (12) reasons why people voted for a Democrat in the past:

    10. Wisconsin capital, Tea Party, 4/15/2011 where left wing trash show their true selfs and the lowest form of morals and principals.

    11. The liberal, Democratic Party, known as the Party of Food Stamps has now entered a new “low” in morality and here is why:



    14. “If we can’t get our entitlements from the government, then we will steal them”!

    15. Here are e-mails of your typical left wing liberal Obama supporters who hate people of other political beliefs while they are suffering from the tornadoes. How low-life can these people get?

    16. Patriotism is the last ditch effort/refuge used by the liberal, Democratic Party, better know as the “Party of Food Stamps”.

    ……..and the typical Barack Obama supporter:

    18. Special Reprot #6:

  15. Elf
    Posted June 28, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    I don’t typically quote the Family Media Guide, but here are their write-ups on 10 video games currently available to 5 year olds.

    Resident Evil 4–“Player is a Special Forces agent sent to recover the President’s kidnapped daughter. During the first minutes of play, it’s possible to find the corpse of a woman pinned up on a wall–by a pitchfork through her face.”

    Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas–“Player is a young man working with gangs to gain respect. His mission includes murder, theft, and destruction on every imaginable level. Player recovers his health by visiting prostitutes then recovers funds by beating them to death and taking their money. Player can wreak as much havoc as he likes without progressing through the game’s storyline.”

    God of War–“Player becomes a ruthless warrior, seeking revenge against the gods who tricked him into murdering his own family. Prisoners are burned alive and player can use ‘finishing moves’ to kill opponents, like tearing a victim in half.”

    NARC–“Player can choose between two narcotics agents attempting to take a dangerous drug off the streets and shut down the KRAK cartel while being subject to temptations including drugs and money. To enhance abilities, player takes drugs including pot, Quaaludes, ecstasy, LSD, and ‘Liquid Soul’–which provides the ability to kick enemies’ heads off.”

    Killer 7–“Player takes control of seven assassins who must combine skills to defeat a band of suicidal, monstrous terrorists. The game eventually escalates into a global conflict between the US and Japan. Player collects the blood of fallen victims to heal himself and must slit his own wrists to spray blood to find hidden passages.”

    The Warriors–“Based on a ’70s action flick that set new standards for ‘artistic violence,’ a street gang battles its way across NYC in an attempt to reach its home turf. Player issues several commands to his gang, including ‘mayhem,’ which causes the gang to smash everything in sight.”

    50 Cent: Bulletproof–“Game is loosely based on the gangster lifestyle of rapper Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson. Player engages in gangster shootouts and loots the bodies of victims to buy new 50 Cent recordings and music videos.”

    Crime Life: Gang Wars–“Player is the leader of a ruthless street gang, spending time fighting, recruiting new gangsters, looting, and of course, more fighting. Player can roam the streets and fight or kill anyone in sight for no apparent reason.”

    Condemned: Criminal Origins–“Player is an FBI serial killer hunter in one of the first titles for the Xbox 360. Game emphasizes the use of melee weapons over firearms, allowing players to use virtually any part of their environment as a weapon. The next-generation graphics provide a new level of detail to various injuries, especially ‘finishing moves.'”

    True Crime: New York City–“Player is a NYC cop looking for information regarding the mysterious death of a friend. Player can plant evidence on civilians and shake them down to earn extra money.”

  16. Posted June 28, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    What we need now is a game based on William Hickman. All the Ayn Rand buffs would buy one for their kids.

  17. Posted June 28, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    Are you sure it wasn’t Dwayne Hickman that Mz. Rand fantasized about?

    And, Taters, I commend you on your first comment here. If I’m not mistaken, it’s the first time since you started leaving comments here a few months ago that what you had to contribute actually makes sense given the context of the post. I disagree with what you had to say, of course, but at least the comment was relevant. Unfortunately, the same thing cannot be said about your second comment. Please try to stay focused.

  18. LaidOffTeacherPatti
    Posted June 28, 2011 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

    I was proud of Tater Salad, too. And then he had to go and post the second one. Like Mark, I didn’t *agree* with the first one but it was well written, clear, concise, cogent. The second comment likely took a lot of time to put together but lacked the focus and brevity of the first post. Really, using a word like “lib-tard” is just pathetic. But again, nice job with the first one.

    See what I did there? Positive-negative-positive…they taught me that in Teacher School you know

  19. Wamon
    Posted June 29, 2011 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    I would absolutely love for the government to wipe my ass when I get old.

  20. Posted June 29, 2011 at 9:21 am | Permalink


    As far as I know, the MPAA ratings are completely voluntary and not legally binding. Hollywood, sensing a regulatory backlash against it, proactively created the system to appease those who sought legislation against it.

    I am sure that localities have their own rules regarding “obscenity,” however one may wish to define it, though I am no expert.

    There is no room for laws against minors watching anything in a free society, in my opinion. There most certainly should be laws against the possession and production of child pornography and human/animal snuff films, but to recommend laws that dictate what people can and cannot see is a slippery slope.

  21. Mr. X
    Posted June 29, 2011 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    The following comes from a response to the ruling by Leeland Yee, the author of the overturned California legislation:

    Using the strict scrutiny standard of the First Amendment, today the Supreme Court of the United States struck down California’s law to prevent the sale and rental of excessively violent video games to children. While the decision was 7-2, only five justices (Scalia, Kennedy, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Kagan) believed video games should be off limits to regulation, while two justices (Roberts, Alito) thought a law could be more narrowly tailored and two justices (Breyer, Thomas) believe California’s law was in fact constitutional.

    “Unfortunately, the majority of the Supreme Court once again put the interests of corporate America before the interests of our children,” said the law’s author, Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco). “As a result of their decision, Wal-Mart and the video game industry will continue to make billions of dollars at the expense of our kids’ mental health and the safety of our community. It is simply wrong that the video game industry can be allowed to put their profit margins over the rights of parents and the well-being of children.”

    Yee also praised Justice Stephen Breyer, one of the more liberal justices on the Court and a San Francisco resident, who wrote the dissenting opinion.

    “Justice Breyer, in his dissenting opinion, clearly understood the need to protect our children from the harmful effects of excessively violent video games and to give parents a tool in raising healthy kids,” said Yee.

    “Applying traditional First Amendment analysis, I would uphold the statute as constitutional on its face and would consequently reject the industries’ facial challenge,” wrote Breyer. “California’s law imposes no more than a modest restriction on expression. The statute prevents no one from playing a video game, it prevents no adult from buying a video game, and it prevents no child or adolescent from obtaining a provided a parent is willing to help. All it prevents is a child or adolescent from buying, without a parent’s assistance, a gruesomely violent video game of a kind that the industry itself tells us it wants to keep out of the hands of those under the age of 17.”

    In his dissenting opinion, 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 the 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?”

    Breyer continued, “The interest that California advances in support of the statute is compelling. Extremely violent games can harm children by rewarding them for being violently aggressive in play, and thereby often teaching them to be violently aggressive in life. And video games can cause more harm in this respect than typically passive media, such as books or films or television programs. I can find no ‘less restrictive’ alternative to California’s law that would be ‘at least as effective.’”

    Breyer concluded with, “This case is ultimately less about censorship than it is about education. Our Constitution cannot succeed in securing the liberties it seeks to protect unless we can raise future generations committed cooperatively to making our system of government work. Education, however, is about choices. Sometimes, children need to learn by making choices for themselves. Other times, choices are made for children – by their parents, by their teachers, and by the people acting democratically through their governments. In my view, the First Amendment does not disable government from helping parents make such a choice here – a choice not to have their children buy extremely violent, interactive video games, which they more than reasonably fear pose only the risk of harm to those children. For these reasons, I respectfully dissent.”

    “While we did not win today, I am certain that this eight year legislative and legal battle has raised the consciousness of this issue for many parents and grandparents, and has forced the video game industry to do a better job at appropriately rating these games,” said Yee.

    In 2005, the Legislature passed and the Governor signed the law – Assembly Bill 1179 – to prevent the sale and rental of violent video games that depict serious injury to human beings in a manner that is especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel, to persons who are under 18 years of age. Retailers who violated the Act would have been liable in an amount up to $1,000 for each violation.

    “Every major national medical association – including the American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics – has concluded that exposure to violent video games causes an increase in aggressive behavior, physiological desensitization to violence, and decrease pro-social behavior,” said Yee. “Thus, society has a direct, rational and compelling reason in marginally restricting a minor’s access to violent video games.”

    In supporting California’s video game law, eleven other states – Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Texas, and Virginia –submitted an amicus brief in support of California’s law. In addition, Yee’s effort has been supported by leading medical associations, civil rights organizations, child advocates, women’s rights groups, and law enforcement, among others.{EFA496BC-EDC8-4E38-9CC7-68D37AC03DFF}&DE={25F3EB3A-3F71-4121-9107-1D6B06F65872}

  22. Rex
    Posted July 3, 2011 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    you people and your inciting wording.

    You almost make it sound like this ruling is saying that children should be playing these games. And that children MUST play these games.

    Is it really possible for a child to have access to these games without a parent or some other older person’s assistance? I think it is far more likely that children are going to be exposed to these games without ever having interacted with the retailer, which is the only place that this ruling effects.

  23. Mike
    Posted July 8, 2013 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    What’s wrong with shooting people in the face? Great Americans have shot friends, family members and strangers in the face for centuries. Patriots like Dick Cheney have done it unapologetically. Face shooting is as American as it gets. If you don’t like it, move to Canada and buy your friends white wine spritzers. Here in America we shoot friends in the face.

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