Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Monday, August 09, 2010

Video Games Are Not Free Speech

Parents nationwide have tried again and again to get some help from governmental authorities to protect their kids from the violent video games on the market. Several states have passed laws stating that retailers cannot sell violent video games to kids under a certain age unless they show parental consent. Unfortunately, supremacist judges have again and again called these laws unconstitutional, as a violation of the First Amendment. Some judges even have claimed these games are as much entitled to First Amendment protection as the Bible or Shakespeare. The U.S. Supreme Court has just agreed to review these cases, and we hope the High Court will come down on the side of parents' rights.

But video games are not free speech for four reasons. First, like conduct such as gambling, video games consist of highly addictive, role-playing activity. Second, violent video games include violence under recognized exceptions to the First Amendment. Third, video games use increasingly realistic simulated activity that, if real, would be illegal to display. And fourth, video games rely heavily on image abuse, which should not be recognized as free speech.

Laws preventing children from accessing extremely violent video games enhance parental rights, giving parents greater control over child-rearing. The parent who wants to protect his child from such games is aided by laws prohibiting the purchase of the games without the parent's knowledge. The parent who wants to allow his child to play violent video games can still buy the game for the child.

We hope the Supreme Court will hold that state legislatures properly exercised their constitutional authority in supporting parental rights to protect their own children against harmful images and actions.

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