Eleven U.S. states have stepped up to support a California law restricting the sale of videogames to minors which will soon be reviewed by the Supreme Court.
If you’re not aware of the California videogame law that will soon find itself before the Supreme Court of the United States, read this. Then read this. Take a moment to consider the potential consequences of the case and why it should be important to anyone who believes in the First Amendment. And then, once you feel sufficiently crash-coursed in the matter, chew on this: Eleven states have now lined up to support the law before the Supreme Court.
An amicus brief was filed yesterday by the Attorneys General of Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Texas, and Virginia, claiming that the states are “vitally interested in protecting the welfare of children and in helping parents raise them” but that the decisions by various appeals courts to strike down laws like the California’s “unreasonably restricts their authority to do that.” Several states have enacted laws restricting the sale of videogames to minors in the past, all of which have been declared unconstitutional on appeal, typically at great expense to state taxpayers.
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal issued a press release explaining his decision to become involved in the case, saying that parents “need and deserve help” to protect their children from “digital danger.”
“The videogame industry should act responsibly – play nice, not nasty – and agree to sensible self-imposed restrictions that block children from buying the most violent games,” Blumenthal said. “I am calling on the videogame industry to follow the leadership of the motion picture industry, which sensibly stops unattended children from viewing violent or graphic movies.”
Blumenthal’s statement clearly overlooks the existence of the Entertainment Software Rating Board, which applies “sensible, self-imposed” ratings to videogames that provide parents with the information they need to determine whether or not a game is appropriate for their children. His reference to the “leadership of the motion picture industry” is particularly telling, since MPAA ratings are entirely voluntary – there are no laws that say a minor cannot watch an R-rated movie – and according to repeated surveys by the FTC, videogame age ratings have a higher rate of enforcement than movies. In other words, the videogame industry is already doing what Blumenthal wants, better than he wants it done.
The Supreme Court will review the California videogame law sometime after its new term begins in October. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the driving force behind the law, can meanwhile be seen this August in The Expendables, the new R-rated action film starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Bruce Willis, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and a host of other renowned thespians, which can legally be viewed by anyone, regardless of age.