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Judge Throws Out Michigan Violent Games Law

Zonk posted about 8 years ago | from the judge-uses-finishing-move-on-opposing-council dept.

90

kukyfrope writes "The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) gained another victory today as Judge George Caram Steeh struck down the Michigan law previously attempting to ban the sale of certain games to minors, ruling the law unconstitutional. Judge Steeh is pushing for evidence showing the link between playing violent video games and actual acts of violence committed by players."

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90 comments

GTA didn't affect me (0, Redundant)

jrmcferren (935335) | about 8 years ago | (#15057181)

I have played GTA on and off since I was about 14, I don't go around on kill frenzys, steal cars, or work for the mob. This unnessecary legilation must stop as it is wasting valuable TAX dollars.

Re:GTA didn't affect me (1)

PFI_Optix (936301) | about 8 years ago | (#15057282)

Thankfully, everyone is not just like you. There are some 14-year-old kids who shouldn't be playing GTA. Kids who will attempt to emulate the violence they perform on-screen in real life. That's why the game carries the M (or A) rating...to tell PARENTS that the game may not be appropriate for their kids.

Retailers are getting a lot better about self-regulating video game sales. I don't think a 14-year-old should be able to buy GTA; however, if his parents want to buy it for him, I'm going to assume they made the decision that he can deal with what he will see (and, virtually, do) and have no objections to the game being in their house.

Re:GTA didn't affect me (1)

Disavian (611780) | about 8 years ago | (#15057385)

There are some adults that shouldn't be playing GTA. Nobody stops them.

Re:GTA didn't affect me (4, Insightful)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | about 8 years ago | (#15057457)

There are also some adults who shouldn't be parenting kids. That's the real issue, I think. In today's world, chances are sooner or later a young child will hear someone say "fuck," or surf something R-rated on cable, or click somethng online that will show them boobies, or play a violent game like GTA, or read a banned book... if not at their own house, then at someone else's. The idea should be to educate your kids on what is and isn't appropriate to do in real life from an early age, but what parent wants to actually take that sort of blame nowadays when they can easily find some big company to sue?

Re:GTA didn't affect me (1)

Disavian (611780) | about 8 years ago | (#15057680)

I've always believed that you should need to apply for a parenting license in order to have kids... not that I like DMVs, but this is sort of a nessasary evil.

Re:GTA didn't affect me (2, Insightful)

PFI_Optix (936301) | about 8 years ago | (#15057940)

The idea should be to educate your kids on what is and isn't appropriate to do in real life from an early age, but what parent wants to actually take that sort of blame nowadays when they can easily find some big company to sue?

Part of parenting is knowing what is and is not appropriate for your own child. The best person in the world to judge that is a good parent. Not society, not a game company, not Congress, and not some random person on the internet (yes, I've had people tell me what is and is not appropriate for my son, here and elsewhere). Some children have no problem viewing "graphic" content like GTA. I was one of those. However, some--a minority in my opinion--are not emotionally capable of seperating fantasy imagery from real life. It's not that they don't know the difference between GTA and the real world, it's that they think that they can apply what they see in GTA to the real world.

I've seen kids whose parents tried very hard to teach them that TV and video games aren't real continue to attempt to carry out what they saw there...and more than once it resulted in physical injury. Parents are supposed to filter the world for their kids. Getting hit with the full reality of how things are at age 6 is a bit much for most kids.

mod this guy up for me (1)

compro01 (777531) | about 8 years ago | (#15061005)

Part of parenting is knowing what is and is not appropriate for your own child. The best person in the world to judge that is a good parent. Not society, not a game company, not Congress, and not some random person on the internet (yes, I've had people tell me what is and is not appropriate for my son, here and elsewhere). Some children have no problem viewing "graphic" content like GTA. I was one of those. However, some--a minority in my opinion--are not emotionally capable of seperating fantasy imagery from real life. It's not that they don't know the difference between GTA and the real world, it's that they think that they can apply what they see in GTA to the real world.

I've seen kids whose parents tried very hard to teach them that TV and video games aren't real continue to attempt to carry out what they saw there...and more than once it resulted in physical injury. Parents are supposed to filter the world for their kids. Getting hit with the full reality of how things are at age 6 is a bit much for most kids.


wonderful... finally something that deserves to be modded up and my points expired yesterday...

Re:GTA didn't affect me (1)

ShadowsHawk (916454) | about 8 years ago | (#15057422)

"I don't think a 14-year-old should be able to buy GTA; however, if his parents want to buy it for him, I'm going to assume they made the decision that he can deal with what he will see (and, virtually, do) and have no objections to the game being in their house."

You're assuming they actually care. There are far too many parents that see media (in any form) as a way to shut their kids up for a couple of hours.

Even when I earned my own money and purchased my own software, my parents still sat down to see what I was spending my time on. This is called, being involved.

Re:GTA didn't affect me (1)

Half a dent (952274) | about 8 years ago | (#15057479)

In the UK the later GTA games carry an "18 Certificate", this is not just a recommended guideline but carries legal weight so if a store sells them to a minor they can be prosecuted.

But this seldom happens, the link below shows that last year there were only 11 prosecutions and I do not believe that this is because selling 18 rated games to kids does not happen.

http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/ pa/cm200506/cmhansrd/cm060323/text/60323w38.htm [the-statio...fice.co.uk]

Re:GTA didn't affect me (5, Insightful)

Goatbert (22577) | about 8 years ago | (#15057510)

Unfortunately, this is a frustratingly inaccurate assumption - parents do not monitor a video game as they might a movie or a television program (and many do not even monitor those enough, but that is another topic). I worked in a GameStop (it was actually a Funcoland at that point) during the GTA3/GTA Vice City period and time after time, parent or grandparent would walk up to my counter buying GTA for a kid who was in his early teens or even younger. This was, in fact, my favorite situation because I get to see the look on their face as I explain.

"Do you realize this is rated M for mature?"
"Oh, no, I didn't read the label. Why is it rated mature?"
"Because you can pick up a prositute, pay her for 'service', kill her, take the money you just paid her back, drive around running over innocent people, and then wind down by lighting bums on fire and shooting cops."

The look on their face was priceless, but it was also incredibly sad that they didn't even go to the trouble of reading the game's packaging. I just don't understand how a parent can be so unconcerned with what their child is doing, and I don't know why they want to punish the entertainment media for lazy parenting.

Re:GTA didn't affect me (1)

fbjon (692006) | about 8 years ago | (#15057724)

Perhaps some parents don't realize or know just how violent a game can be these days. It doesn't come up on the threat radar.

Re:GTA didn't affect me (1)

PFI_Optix (936301) | about 8 years ago | (#15057960)

Anyone who doesn't realize how violent video games can be hasn't owned a TV in years. That kind of rules out video games for their kids.

Re:GTA didn't affect me (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | about 8 years ago | (#15057755)

And your manager was okay with you turning down sales for him?

Just saying, I mean... Everyone I know who works in a store knows it's a better deal to sell cigarettes and porn to minors, since they'll easily make more money than the occasional fine. Having a moral conscience really isn't good for business.

Re:GTA didn't affect me (1)

Goatbert (22577) | about 8 years ago | (#15057956)

Despite not liking the management, it was always stressed that we weren't supposed to sell inappropriate games to kids. We had the ESRB ratings posted on big signs as well, and we carded people who wanted to buy an M game. They were quite serious about it, and if they had been otherwise, I still would have done it - if only because it is the right thing to do.

Re:GTA didn't affect me (0)

Thaelon (250687) | about 8 years ago | (#15059021)

What other people choose to buy is none of your business. Taking away people's right to choose is not the right thing to do. Keep your own morals to yourself. I'm glad you no longer work there.

Why should you protect people from things which are REAL, you know, these REAL things commonly known as LIFE? (*hat off to Offspring [lyricsdomain.com] *)

This is one reason a lot of today's music is watered down shit. Walmart won't sell CDs with explicit lyrics. Walmart was (and maybe still is) the biggest seller of CDs in the US. Walmart alone could make or break an album. If Walmart refuses to sell an album. Many labels won't publish an ablum that they know won't be very profitable. They will force the artists to "clean up" the album. So you couldn't put explicit lyrics in an album.

That's right, Walmart had the power to decide what kind of content artists could have in their art.

Re:GTA didn't affect me (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15059796)

Taking away people's right to choose is not the right thing to do. Keep your own morals to yourself.


He informed the parent as to what was in the game. No rights were "taken away" as a minor will do/view/listen to what (s)he is told by the parent within the limits of the law. You know, parental guidance and all that. If anything he enhanced the ability of the parent to exercise their rights as a parent.

Do us all a favor and don't reproduce as I don't want to see what your idea of "parenting" entails. It reminds me of a former supervisor of mine. She was an "ex-hippy" who believed that "her children should choose their own paths".. from the age of ten or so. They're now both adults and convicted criminals. We (the parents) are there to provide guidance to, and at times make decisions for our offspring until they've reached adulthood.

This is one reason a lot of today's music is watered down shit. Walmart won't sell CDs with explicit lyrics.


And this applies to the parent poster how? He didn't say these titles should be banned, he said the parents should be informed. I disagree with Walmart pulling music, but that's their right. There is nothing wrong with being informed prior to purchase as to the type of material on a CD or in a game.

Walmart won't sell CDs with explicit lyrics. Walmart was (and maybe still is) the biggest seller of CDs in the US. Walmart alone could make or break an album. If Walmart refuses to sell an album. Many labels won't publish an ablum that they know won't be very profitable. They will force the artists to "clean up" the album. So you couldn't put explicit lyrics in an album.

That's right, Walmart had the power to decide what kind of content artists could have in their art.


So basically, you're blaming Walmart for the so-called artists selling out and capitulating. If they really were artists and felt so strongly about it they could sell their stuff online or in niche record shops. It appears as though the mighty dollar is worth more than their so-called art.

Re:GTA didn't affect me (1)

Thaelon (250687) | about 8 years ago | (#15061009)

You misunderstand me. I'm all for informing the parent, and letting the parents of the child parent the frickin' child. But what he was doing was refusing to sell games to kids (it was implied the parents weren't there). It is perfectly legal in most states to sell M rated video games to kids and therefore the store should stay out of it.

What I'm against is retail stores trying to enforce their morals on their customers at their own behest.

And this applies to the parent poster how? He didn't say these titles should be banned, he said the parents should be informed. I disagree with Walmart pulling music, but that's their right. There is nothing wrong with being informed prior to purchase as to the type of material on a CD or in a game.

It applies because it's another example of a retail store inflicting its morals on its customers.

And this applies to the parent poster how? He didn't say these titles should be banned, he said the parents should be informed. I disagree with Walmart pulling music, but that's their right. There is nothing wrong with being informed prior to purchase as to the type of material on a CD or in a game.

He said nothing of informing parents! He said, "We had the ESRB ratings posted on big signs as well, and we carded people who wanted to buy an M game."

Laws against selling video games of [rating] to [demographic] are being declared unconstitutional left and right [theesa.com] . ("In a decision that drew upon the judicial rulings of cases where similar legislation had been deemed unconstitutional, Judge Whyte wrote that "games are protected by the First Amendment and that plaintiffs are likely to prevail in their argument that the Act violates the First Amendment.")

Since your personal attack on me seems to have been based on a misconception of my point I'll let it slide saying only this: I'm not going to let my kids (assuming I ever have any) be complete shitheads like you seem to think they would be. I'll let my kids choose their own path alright, as long as it's not a foolish path.

The bottom line is, stores should not be telling us how to raise our kids. I don't believe there is any correlation between playing violent video games and criminals, I blame bad parenting.

Re:GTA didn't affect me (1)

mjeffers (61490) | about 8 years ago | (#15068694)

I think you may have misread the original post. You say:

"I'm all for informing the parent, and letting the parents of the child parent the frickin' child. But what he was doing was refusing to sell games to kids (it was implied the parents weren't there)."

but in the original post it reads:

"time after time, parent or grandparent would walk up to my counter buying GTA for a kid who was in his early teens or even younger"

I think we may all be in violent agreement.

Re:GTA didn't affect me (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | about 8 years ago | (#15073048)

It is perfectly legal in most states to sell M rated video games to kids and therefore the store should stay out of it.

No, they have the right to refuse a sale. Don't like it? Don't go there.

What I'm against is retail stores trying to enforce their morals on their customers at their own behest.

No, this is stores following their own ethical guidelines. It isn't at all like pharmacists refusing to fill a birth control script, because there's no serious consequence to the customer.

Laws against selling video games of [rating] to [demographic] are being declared unconstitutional left and right. ("In a decision that drew upon the judicial rulings of cases where similar legislation had been deemed unconstitutional, Judge Whyte wrote that "games are protected by the First Amendment and that plaintiffs are likely to prevail in their argument that the Act violates the First Amendment.")

That's right - so far, those laws have been struck down. Stores can still follow that policy.

Re:GTA didn't affect me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15059843)

What other people choose to buy is none of your business. Taking away people's right to choose is not the right thing to do. Keep your own morals to yourself. I'm glad you no longer work there.

I agree with the first half of this comment. I assume the parent poster didn't take away the customer's right to choose what to purchase. He simply gave them additional information. In fact, if that information was on the box, he's not actually giving them any extra info -- just calling attention to something they should have already read. At that point, if Granny had said "I understand, but my grandson's mature enough to handle it." I'm assuming he would have sold her the game. If that was not the case, then I'd have to agree that he had gone over the line.

Re:GTA didn't affect me (1)

Thaelon (250687) | about 8 years ago | (#15061079)

He wasn't informing the parents, which I fully advocate. He was carding the kids themselves (implying the parents weren't there). It's not the store's responsibility to deny kids games. If you don't want your kids buying games, don't give them the money or ask the store not to sell them to your kid.

I fully intend to let my kids play violent video games, because they're video games.

Inform the parents and let them decide. If the parents aren't present, tough shit. The stores aren't being paid to raise the kids. It's a simple division of labor. Parents raise kids, stores sell stuff. The two shouldn't mingle. If any store ever tried this "carding" malarky on my kids that were attempting to make a legal game purchase you can bet your ass I'd be in there giving their manager a lecture.

It is not the job of the government or Gamespot to shield my kids from violent video games. If I want that to happen I'll see to it personally. Just as any good parent would.

Re:GTA didn't affect me (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | about 8 years ago | (#15073064)

It is not the job of the government or Gamespot to shield my kids from violent video games. If I want that to happen I'll see to it personally. Just as any good parent would.

If you want your kids to be able to play GTA3, go buy it for them. Gamestop is perfectly within its rights to refuse service to your kids.

Re:GTA didn't affect me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15057973)

Just saying, I mean... Everyone I know who works in a store knows it's a better deal to sell cigarettes and porn to minors, since they'll easily make more money than the occasional fine. Having a moral conscience really isn't good for business.

Bad analogy. He wasn't refusing to sell games to minors, he was informing a parent (accompanying a minor) that the game might not be appropriate. It could be argued that selling them an M-rated game now means lost sales in the future, when they find out how bad GTA really is (and resents the shop for selling it to them anyway). People are funny like that.

Re:GTA didn't affect me (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 8 years ago | (#15058344)

"And your manager was okay with you turning down sales for him?"

I used to work at Funcoland, if anybody remembers that store these days. My boss would likely have been pretty happy with me there. Yes, it was a turned down sale, but I also would have been doing my job as "Games Advisor". I had to keep the customers happy, and that meant giving good advice about which games to buy. I can imagine the parents being rather happy if I had stopped them to say "Are you aware of the content of this game?"

I think this law is pretty damned silly, but I have a lot of respect for the dude for doing what he did. If that were more commonplace, these laws would have even less ground to walk on.

Re:GTA didn't affect me (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15057846)

I really don't know. My parents have never forbidden me to play any game, nor have they forbidden me to watch any movie (at least not by other means than sending me to bed when it was past my bedtime anyway). However, I would never describe my parents as bad or unconcerning.
Does this mean I'm one of the 'lucky' people that isn't influenced by all the violence? I don't think so. I think most people have thought about some nifty GTA (or any other violent game)-scene when some annoying prick was talking to them. The main difference imho is that most people don't actually act on these thoughts (unless maybe afterwards, in-game, to release some pressure).
The main question is: do videogames make it easier for people to go across that boundary and start shooting around in the real world too? I think it's quite safe to assume not, otherwise the world would be a far worse place. And people that are *that* influenced by games will probably be quite as influenced by 'The Matrix' too.

In the old time we played 'army' or 'cowboy and indian' for real. And yes, some people had the crazy idea that they should go and try it with real guns when they grew up. I didn't see any court action against that.

If parents should do *anything* to 'protect' their children, it's talking to them every now and then so they can detect problems early, and keep them away from weapons, not videogames.

Re:GTA didn't affect me (1)

PFI_Optix (936301) | about 8 years ago | (#15057996)

Unfortunately, this is a frustratingly inaccurate assumption - parents do not monitor a video game as they might a movie or a television program (and many do not even monitor those enough, but that is another topic).

Correction: Bad parents don't. I do. Just because bad parents don't pay attention to what they are buying their children doesn't mean that restricting sales to minors is useless. It still helps the good, concerned parents make conscious decisions for their children.

I was renting a movie one day when a boy--maybe 12--and his parents approached the counter next to me. The boy put a game on the counter, the clerk scanned it, and said "You are aware that this game is rated M for violence and sexual content?" The father turned to his son and asked "is that okay?" then said "fine" when his son nodded. I don't think that guy had a clue what he'd just been asked, I wanted to slap him.

Fathers, sons, and M-rated video games (2, Insightful)

John_Sauter (595980) | about 8 years ago | (#15058263)

I was renting a movie one day when a boy—maybe 12—and his parents approached the counter next to me. The boy put a game on the counter, the clerk scanned it, and said “You are aware that this game is rated M for violence and sexual content?” The father turned to his son and asked “is that okay?” then said “fine” when his son nodded. I don't think that guy had a clue what he'd just been asked, I wanted to slap him.

I wasn't the father you saw, but I could easily have been. Here is the situation as I imagine it from the father's point of view. The parents take their son to the video game rental shop to rent him a game as a treat, perhaps because he brought home a good report card, or did well in sports at school. He has heard about this particular game, and picks it from the rack. The parents look over the cover and decide, in spite of the M rating, that it is appropriate for him. At the counter the father, hearing the question from the clerk, is concerned that his son might be embarrased to have porn. When the son indicates he is OK with it, the transaction is completed.

Re:GTA didn't affect me (1)

Tweekster (949766) | about 8 years ago | (#15057763)

And the warnings that are on a box usually tell you WHY it was rated that way. Pretty easy to determine. Is it fantasy violence (like the crusades and stuff or is it blood and gore)

Splendiferous (4, Insightful)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | about 8 years ago | (#15057209)

Here's to more "activist judges" like this guy.

Though it's a shame when a judge pointing out that that the government has just passed an illegal law is declared a "victory."

Re:Splendiferous (5, Funny)

BoomerSooner (308737) | about 8 years ago | (#15057302)

I've got the link and it's indisputable. I played Ultima III on the Apple //e. I ran over a rabbit on the highway in rural New Mexico on accident during Spring Break.

Ultima III kills rabbits. What's next? We must protect our children (our meaning our children collectively) from deviant game players! Who knows if I ever get time to finish Ultima V someone may die somewhere.

Stop the senseless killing, ban video games outright. Oh and ban sex to since that creates killers. 100% of people that murder were created by sex, this link is irrefutable.

Thank you for your time. Have courage, we will make this land great once again.

Re:Splendiferous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15057497)

So you have millions of kids playing violent games, and each year a dozen or so kids decide to go on a violence spree for real. Sure, they blame the games. Can't blame themselves, who supposedly have Free Will, after all!

Re:Splendiferous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15057542)

To be safe, ban IVF too.

Re:Splendiferous (1)

iocat (572367) | about 8 years ago | (#15058223)

I once ran over a rabbit... and it was only my *friend* who played Ultima III, on an Apple ][+. That's how harmful videogames, and RPGs in particular, can be.

Re:Splendiferous (1)

kria (126207) | about 8 years ago | (#15065120)

I remember Ultima III (on the Atari 800, IIRC, in my case), and if that taught me violence, tile floors, treasure chests and tall grass would be toast.

Re:Splendiferous (4, Insightful)

Doomstalk (629173) | about 8 years ago | (#15057326)

It's not so much activism, as realizing the slippery slope that censorship like this creates. As soon as you declare one medium as exempt from free speech protection, it becomes that much easier to extend the restriction to others.

Re:Splendiferous (1)

BoomerSooner (308737) | about 8 years ago | (#15057439)

"activist judges" was probably meant to be sarcastic, since (s)he used the quotes. It was interpreted by me to mean judges are only "activist" when they don't agree with your POV. For example, the SCOTUS has already said abortion is legal. To change it you would need activist judges. No one in the current administration seems to have problems with THOSE activist judges. Hell they might as well be sponsored so we know whom to support with our money. Scalia sponsored by Exxon/Mobil, brining you environmental deregulation and higher prices since 1990.

Re:Splendiferous (1)

vega80 (852274) | about 8 years ago | (#15068958)

Judicial review has been an integral part of our system since Marbury v. Madison in 1803. "Judicial activism" is just a term used by conservatives when a ruling doesn't go their way.

Best part of the decision (5, Insightful)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | about 8 years ago | (#15057244)


From TFA:
[Douglas Lowenstein, President of the ESA, said:] "It is noteworthy that Judge Steeh specifically chastised the state for not doing what we urged them to do from the start, which is to find less restrictive ways to help ensure that parents make sound choices about the games their kids play."
Translation:
Parents: we're not going to do your parenting for you. Take some responsibility.
Hats off to Judge Steeh.

Re:Best part of the decision (1)

Lord of the Wazz (636849) | about 8 years ago | (#15057681)

I don't get it. Every time a law like this rears its head Slashdot goes nuts. Why shouldn't the sale of violent games to minors be restricted? It needs a combination of responsible parenting and responsible selling to prevent minors playing unsuitable games.

Parents can't and shouldn't be watching what their kids are doing 24 hours a day so it's up to the retailers to ensure that they're not selling GTA to 10 year olds and the parents to make sure that their kids aren't playing GTA.

Re:Best part of the decision (3, Insightful)

LordEd (840443) | about 8 years ago | (#15057745)

How do 10 year olds get to the mall? Where do they get the money?

Sounds like 2 parent intervention points to me.

And an even better question (2, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 8 years ago | (#15058737)

How do you not see the sames your kids are playing? As a parent it's your job to watch what your kid does in your house. No you cannot and do not want to be the all invasive 24-hour hovering parent, but you need to have basic awareness of what is going on. If a kid is able to hide a TV, videogame console, and games from you, you are doing a poor job.

Game systems should be in public areas of the house where you are likely to spend your time. That way you can keep an eye on what your kids are playing.

Here's an even better thought: Play the games your self before your kid does, and with your kid as well! What a concept! You don't like games you say? Suck it up, part of being a parent is doing things for the benefit of your child. You'll find, if you try them, that games are actually designed to be entertaining. Play the games and decide if you personally feel they are acceptable, don't rely on the opinions of others.

Re:Best part of the decision (1)

Lord of the Wazz (636849) | about 8 years ago | (#15059885)

I'm not saying that parents should shirk the responsibility of checking what their child is doing - far from it. I'm just suggesting that having the shops refuse to sell violent games to minors (or at least inform the parents that the game is violent if it's the parent making the purchase) would be a good thing.

Anyone who is coming out with comments along the lines of "In a free society we shouldn't have to do this" needs to get their heads out of their asses. The reality of the situation is that there are a lot of incompetent or ignorant parents who don't know or don't care what games their kids play.

In the UK we have a legally binding classification system for games controlled by the BBFC - the same lot who classify films prior to release. If you sell an 18 rated game to someone under 18, you're breaking the law. It's not ideal but it's better than nothing. I'm not sure what the deal is if you buy an 18 rated game for someone under 18.

Obviously the bone of contention here will be the argument over whether or not the state has a right to say what citizens can and can't do. Given that there are already age restrictions over the sale of alcohol, tobacco and glue (not to mention the restrictions over voting, shagging and marriage) I don't see the restriction of sale of violent games to be a problem. But then, I guess I don't have a written constitution to protect ;-)

Re:Best part of the decision (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15104250)

Theres a differnce to saying I can't buy booze or drive a car till I'm 18 and saying I can't play Diablo.

noone ID's me when I try to buy a book from Chapters but some of the books i own have graphic descriptions of violence.

Besides, at 50-70 bucks for new games, how many minors on their 10 dollar allowance are actualy doing the buying? Lets face it folks, mommy and daddy are doing the buying and blindly handing the game to their kids.

Bottom line. Parents need to take responsibility for raising their own kids we have the ESRB, if nothing else it takes ten seconds for you to glance at the rating and decide based on that.

If you decide your kid can play diablo even though hes only 15 and the game says 17+ thats your choice. If you decide you dont care enough to watch what you buy him dont whine to someone else when you walk by just as hes preforming a Fatality.

Re:Best part of the decision (4, Interesting)

Tenareth (17013) | about 8 years ago | (#15057753)

Most of these kids just asked their parents to buy the game, and since the parents don't spend 30 seconds finding out what the game is about, they buy it and are shocked when 3 weeks later they find out he's ripping some guys head off in the game.

Re:Best part of the decision (2, Insightful)

Senior Frac (110715) | about 8 years ago | (#15058454)

I don't get it. Every time a law like this rears its head Slashdot goes nuts. Why shouldn't the sale of violent games to minors be restricted?

Because, in any truly free society, the burden is on you to prove that the sale of violent games to minors is detrimental. It is not my responsibility to prove the contrary.

Actually the bar is even higher than this! Not only must it be proven detrimental, but you also have to prove that it's the governments role to legislate it. A much harder task IMO.

Re:Best part of the decision (1)

sonamchauhan (587356) | about 8 years ago | (#15064604)

Very good points.

The judgement not only goes against common sense, it is contradicted by the latest scientific research:

From http://www.sci-tech-today.com/story.xhtml?story_id =0100000094LG [sci-tech-today.com] :

Watching too much violent TV and playing too many violent video games takes a toll on children's social and physical development, researchers report.
"We found that the more TV they watch, the less time they spend with their friends," says researcher David S. Bickham, a research scientist at the Center on Media and Child Health at the Harvard School of Public Health. However, "this relationship really only holds true for violent TV," he adds.

Another study found that violent video games appear to instill poor attitudes in children when it comes to their own health, while promoting risky behaviors. A third report found that mature-rated video games often include explicit sexual imagery and language content not included on warning labels


http://www.forbes.com/lifestyle/health/feeds/hscou t/2006/04/03/hscout531930.html [forbes.com]

TV and Video-Game Violence Harms Kids

MONDAY, April 3 (HealthDay News) -- Watching too much violent TV and playing too many violent video games takes a toll on children's social and physical development, researchers report.


http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/loca l/14256547.htm [kansascity.com]

Studies link media to modern ills
By ALAN BAVLEY
The Kansas City Star

Media and Children | Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association

"We are conducting an ongoing, uncontrolled experiment on this generation in terms of media exposure and potential future behavioral and physical consequences, and it seems unopposed by the media industry and most parents."
-- Donald Shifrin, American Academy of Pediatrics

TFA (-1, Redundant)

Disavian (611780) | about 8 years ago | (#15057369)

For those too lazy to actually click on the link...

Breaking: Michigan Violent Games Law Thrown Out

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) gained another victory today as Judge George Caram Steeh, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan handed down a permanent injunction against the state's violent video games law.

Once again the video game industry is victorious in another one of its battles against state regulation of violent video games. Today the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), representing the computer and video games industry, announced that a federal district court in Michigan ruled that a bill--SB416, which was signed into law by Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm--intended to restrict the sale of certain games to minors is unconstitutional and cannot be implemented.

Apparently the state of Michigan had claimed that video games' interactive nature made them less entitled to protection under the First Amendment, but The Hon.George Caram Steeh, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, clearly did not agree with this assessment.

"The interactive, or functional aspect, in video games can be said to enhance the expressive elements even more than other media by drawing the player closer to the characters and becoming more involved in the plot of the game than by simply watching a movie or television show," explained Judge Steeh. "It would be impossible to separate the functional aspects of a video game from the expressive, inasmuch as they are so closely intertwined and dependent on each other in creating the virtual experience."

Last November, the very same judge handed down a temporary injunction against the Michigan law, but the latest ruling has now transformed that temporary block into a permanent one.

Although the federal government is still pushing for the CDC to investigate the effects of all electronic media on children, there is still no evidence of a direct link between violence in video games and real-life violence acted out by kids or teens. Regarding studies cited by the state in support of the bill, Judge Steeh said, "Dr. (Craig) Anderson's studies have not provided any evidence that the relationship between violent video games and aggressive behavior exists... The research not only fails to provide concrete evidence that there is a connection between violent media and aggressive behavior, it also fails to distinguish between video games and other forms of media."

While certain politicians and anti-game activists have also suggested that games are far worse for children than other media because they offer interactive, not passive experiences, the district court once again shot down this notion. "...it could just as easily be said that the interactive element in video games acts as an outlet for minors to vent their violent or aggressive behavior, thereby diminishing the chance they would actually perform such acts in reality....Not only does the Act not materially advance the state's stated interest, but it appears to discriminate against a disfavored 'newcomer' in the world of entertainment media. Thus, 'singling out' the video game industry does not advance the state's alleged goal," concluded Judge Steeh.

Naturally, the ESA couldn't be happier with the court's ruling. The organization also said that it would seek reimbursement from Michigan for its legal fees, a move it also recently took with the state of Illinois.

"Judge Steeh's ruling represents a sweeping rejection of the state's claims regarding the harmful effects of violent video games and we will move immediately for reimbursement of the substantial legal fees incurred in this court fight which the state could have, and should have, never triggered," commented ESA President Douglas Lowenstein. "It is noteworthy that Judge Steeh specifically chastised the state for not doing what we urged them to do from the start, which is to find less restrictive ways to help ensure that parents make sound choices about the games their kids play. With this wasteful litigation behind us, we hope the state will now do just that and we remain ready to work cooperatively with them."

"Link" is a loaded term. (3, Interesting)

Lord Bitman (95493) | about 8 years ago | (#15057413)

Of course there is a "Link", of course there is a "Relationship". Those are statistical terms. There is a link between having too much money and having an Apple product. Do rounded self-contained white computers cause people to have too much money? (or, to play this role more adequetly) Do they cause people who already have just enough money to enjoy such things to get even more money?

I'll admit to liking shiny expensive things, but I find that indulging in that desire leaves me with less money, not more.

HYPER-RAMBLE ACTIVATE

Though in this case "Money" would translate to "ability to be aggressive", not "desire to be aggressive". There are certainly two factors involved in the "I wish I could afford one of those big-ass monitors" example. And of course it's "desire" not "ability" which any sensible law would be attempting to prevent. The question is: would I be more desirous of bigger, flatter, more-roundeder monitors if I had the seed which I could technically afford? And, more to the point: would it then make me want to try OSX? ( person who likes squishing bugs -> person who likes making pictures of exploding cars appear on a screen -> [magicar transforumu] -> person who likes raping babies and putting bloody nun-heads on the dashboards of the innocent )

Of course, would I really even want a big rounded monitor if I didnt, deep down, already want to try OSX? And this doesnt take into account that I already use bash, and the possibility of between the time of purchasing a big rounded flat monitor and trying OSX ( that is, decapitating nuns ), I may have met an intriguing and mysterious Mac-using guillotine aficionado (who doesnt even like big monitors).

Some guy once said "Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics." I'm pretty sure he would have liked San Andreas, too.

ULTRA-MEGA-RAMBLE XXTREME GO!

The point is: "Inside Man" sucks. If you want to do random out-of-place commentary, but can't find an example in a real game which is "extreme" enough to get the point accross, then maybe you should adjust your shallow world-view instead of making up one and then pointing to it to say "They're just like that! and isnt that horrible!?"

in conclusion:
I was gonna be first-post when I started typing this. I assume not at this point.

Re:"Link" is a loaded term. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15057709)

Sweet merciful internet Christ...

I think you may have forgotten to take your meds because of playing too much Oblivion.

Re:"Link" is a loaded term. (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | about 8 years ago | (#15057789)

At the risk of being redundant (for both your comment and the many stories about this trend), your arguement can be concised to "Correlation does not imply causality."

In other words, it's equally as valid to say that there is another explanation that causes both playing violent video games AND committing violent actions as the idea that one causes the other.

Re:"Link" is a loaded term. (0)

Lord Bitman (95493) | about 8 years ago | (#15061439)

Yeah, but like I said, when I started writing it I was the first one here :)
Though it should be mentioned that fuck you for not actually reading more than the first sentence of the post, jackhole. Want to comment? You get a free read the whole thing first.

Yeah, It's admittedly rambling, goes around all over the place and gets nowhere. I can understand not reading it. You know what you get to do if you havent read something? You get to not respond to it! Just like I didnt respond to any of your posts, because I didnt read them.

At the risk of being redundant: the internet is a place full of only sound and well-thought-out arguments. If you want to try polluting it through unjustified summarization, build your own!

So you might ask "well then what the hell was your point if it wasnt the one I assumed it was based on my own ideas about the way mystical fantasy world ultra earth 36 ought to be!?"

It was a well-reasoned and apparently interesting internal discussion, drawing no conclusions (other than the suckiness of Inside Man)

"In other words, it's equally as valid to say that there is another explanation that causes both playing violent video games AND committing violent actions as the idea that one causes the other."

No, jackwit. In other words, it is equally as valid to say that oranges tend to be orange. The point is not "I am right about this, there must be some other explanation!" the point is "people who attempt to draw conclusions are morons, you moron"

Periods are for assholes.--ZOMG

(gee, I wonder if he'll "get it". -- HE'S LYING!! HE DOESNT WONDER SUCH A THING AT ALL!!!)

You hear that Mr. Anderson? That is the sound of.. (1)

Mr_eX9 (800448) | about 8 years ago | (#15057587)

...inevitability.

Seriously, games are a new entertainment medium, and as history has told us, all new mediums are resisted by the older generations and are gradually accepted overtime.

I'm glad to see that this is happening sooner rather than later. Good news on /. for a change...who'd have thought?

Re:You hear that Mr. Anderson? That is the sound o (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | about 8 years ago | (#15057847)

Dagnabbit, don't you see! If we let the young'ins get away with this, the next thing we know they'll have hover-majigs and whatchama-copter and we'll never get them off the damn lawn!

Here's how the Video Game Law system works... (2, Insightful)

T_ConX (783573) | about 8 years ago | (#15057735)

An ambitious politician (we'll just call him... Mr. X) is looking to gain some bi-partisan appeal. Mr. X becomes aware of the Hot Coffee issue and it's run off, and decides to push forward a law banning the sale of M rated video games to minors. The bill isn't all that well writen, but that's not the point.

Mr. X has several others sign on to his planned bill, including folks from the othr side of the political spectrum. The bill gains huge support from both sides of Mr. X's legislative body.

The bill is passed, and signed by the Governer.

The game industry has the state sued for violation of the first amendment of the constitution, and the state supreme court rules in the game industry's favor. The state is forced to pay for the game industry's legal costs.

Mr. X can then blame the failure of his efforts to 'protect children from violent video games' (a duty ment for parents) on 'Activist Judges'.

In the end... the losses are:
-A unknown amount of time lost to pushing forward the game legislation that could have gone to more meaningful efforts.
-Taxpayer dollars lost trying to defend the bill in court.

The gains, however:
-Mr. X gains a reputation as a politician who wants to protect children, and has another example to use when playing the 'Activist Judge' card.

More losses and gains (1)

nuggz (69912) | about 8 years ago | (#15058942)

Losses
Public perception of the promoter of the bad law likely improves.
Public perception of the judiciary likely falls.
Someone has to take significant risk to ensure the government behaves properly.

Gains
The bad law is gone.
It is possible the promoter of the bad law might look stupid.
People are reminded there are some people in positions of authority who understand and believe in the constitution/laws of the country.

Education Correlation? (0)

IflyRC (956454) | about 8 years ago | (#15057776)

So does anyone think that there might be a correlation between the education and intelligence of the gamer with how a specific game might affect them?

Also, some personalities are more apt to react impulsively to a situation versus thinking it through.

As you can see by my name I fly RC aircraft as a hobby. One of the tools I use to practice aerobatics with is a RC flight simulator. It mimics the physics and weather of a model airplane in flight and uses the same controller as I use to fly my "real" model airplanes. It doesn't remove the anxiety of trying a new manuever on the real model, but after I've done something on the simulator a few hundred times flying the real manuever feels just like I've done it a hundred times.

Could it possibly be the same with violence and first person shooter games? Do people who commit these crimes feel as though they have done it before due to the game and its just a walk in the park? Does it remove the emotional factor of taking someone's life? How are first person shooters and other games different from military training simulators? Would someone that has flown tons of flight simulators on the computer as games have any qualms about flipping a switch and dropping ordinance on a village?

A lot of the time we think that "no, its not possible" because its not possible for "us". Gaming is fun for us, we have no problem differentiating it from reality but most of the people who post here on /. are educated, intelligent individuals. Take a kid who has grown up in a bad family situation, non-educated, let him shoot people for 18 hours a day while his brain is still developing and I would almost wager to guess that he would have very little problem carrying out the acts in the game in real life should a similar situation develop - almost like instinct.

Re:Education Correlation? (2, Insightful)

iainl (136759) | about 8 years ago | (#15058924)

Of course, where your argument falls down to some extent is that the RC simulator

a) claims to be a simulator, and realistic, and
b) uses the same control system as a real RC vehicle.

Clicking on a head-shaped collection of polygons is rather different to aiming and firing a gun, and it's clearly a fantasy.

This does, however, lead to a rather contentious thought I had yesterday, when hearing a news item about the increase in fatal accidents among younger drivers. Are the anti-games lobby missing the real target here? I don't think there is a causal relationship between playing FPS games and psychotic rampages, but how many boy racer idiots think that their modded-up Citroen Saxo will handle as easily as Gran Turismo when they do something dumb at speed?

Re:Education Correlation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15059920)

There's definitely a link between playing a racing sim (or any other driving game that you can use a steering wheel controller for) and being more aggressive while driving for real. I've had this happen to me first hand, though I can't say that the effects have always been bad. I played Gran Turismo when it was first released and that was a few years before my parents would let me drive. I basically learned how to drive a couple years before I had ever gotten behind the wheel of a vehicle, and managed to ace my driver's test without paying too much attention to any of the classes that are required for it (obtaining one at 16 as opposed to 18 required some odd number of hours in a driver's ed class at the time I got my license). I've also noticed myself driving more like I do in the game than vice versa: I take turns wider to keep my speed up, and make sure that I get a good exit speed coming out of one; generally more aggressive instead of defensive when driving on the highway (which can lead to avoid accidents instead of being in one, but can also lead to causing accidents I suppose as well).

Re:Education Correlation? (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | about 8 years ago | (#15073136)

I'll bet you drive slower in the rain, though. Playing GT3 has made me more conservative in crap weather, because I can see what happens when my rear end gets loose in a turn. Also, Handling cars in GT3 is anything but easy - I mean really, who in their right mind thinks that driving a race prepped 300hp rear wheel drive car around a tight track at the limit is easy hasn't done it. Also, you have to drive like that for 5-7 minutes (in the easy stages) at a time with no mistakes or the other guys will eat your lunch.

Case Study (1)

TimCrider (215456) | about 8 years ago | (#15057878)

This is a very easy problem to study. If there are over 6 million players world wide who play World of Warcraft, someone could easily look at crime statistics and make a proper link.

1. Have hate crimes against Taurens risen since WoW was launched?
2. Has there been a rise in reported cases of grand theft ninja?
3. Are more Gnomes getting college degrees and taking jobs at NASA, or are they still building explosives and arcanite dragons?

  You could go even deeper than this, and I think that you'll find that video games don't contribute to the problem.

Re:Case Study (1)

PFI_Optix (936301) | about 8 years ago | (#15058081)

You could go even deeper than this, and I think that you'll find that video games don't contribute to the problem.

I don't think it's that simple. Video games don't cause people to become violent. However, it could probably be demonstrated that they are influential in violent behavior, probably moreso than music or video due to the interactive nature. You're not just watching violence, you're practicing it.

For the vast majority of players, that has no bearing on their actions. For a select few, though, it contributes in the same way that watching violent movies or listening to violent lyrics or hanging out with violent people contributes: it's a sort of feedback loop where a person with violent tendencies exposes themselves to more violence (real or fantasy is irrelevant) which causes them to crave more of it. Run the cycle a few thousand times and you get a kid shooting up a school for no apparent reason.

This would still be happening if there were no video games. There would still be music. There would still be movies. There would still be peer groups.

Re:Case Study (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15058402)

Practicing violence? I defy you to go out and try casting spells. Or even shooting a .50 Desert Eagle. I'm confident that virtually all players, despite their "practice" in Counterstrike, Rainbow Six, and Half-Life, really suck at shooting in real life.

Playing BF2 won't help you in a firefight in Baghdad, even if you are really, really good at dolphin diving. You're not practicing anything except pattern recognition and hand-eye coordination. You're not shooting or stabbing people; you are moving a mouse cursor in response to a stimulus, and clicking. That's it. There is no real-world application to this skill.

People who are truly violent need a lot more stimulation than some red pixels exploding from other pixels. They go to bars and get in fights, or steal cars, or shoot police.

Re:Case Study (1)

PFI_Optix (936301) | about 8 years ago | (#15058522)

Practicing violence? I defy you to go out and try casting spells. Or even shooting a .50 Desert Eagle. I'm confident that virtually all players, despite their "practice" in Counterstrike, Rainbow Six, and Half-Life, really suck at shooting in real life.


I'm using a different definition of "practice" here, as in "the practice of _____".

You're arguing the absurd. Just because a disturbed kid shoots a .50 DE in Counter-Strike doesn't mean he won't get stupid and try to recreate it with his dad's .22 Ruger.

People who are truly violent need a lot more stimulation than some red pixels exploding from other pixels. They go to bars and get in fights, or steal cars, or shoot police.


You're being deliberately dense, aren't you? Please say it's so.

Why do violent people get in fights, steal cars, or shoot police? You think those ideas come out of a vacuum? Prior to the act, there is something influencing them. They surround themselves with violence, from the music they hear to the TV they watch to the friends they associate with to the games they play. All of that--including the games--reenforces their tendency toward violent behavior. Of the media, games are probably the most influential because you aren't watching it, you're doing it.

Re:Case Study (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15059264)

You're being deliberately dense, aren't you? Please say it's so.
Nice ad hominem. Asshole.

The problem is that you are taking a correlation (video games & violence) that is a very weak one, and trying to prove causation, i.e. that the practice of video games enhances some violent instinct.

However, in order to make this work you have to take a very tiny selective sample of violence. Most murders are committed by adults, generally urban criminals, who are not sitting around playing GTA before they go out and commit it. The murder rate among teenagers is a tiny portion of the total, and has been dropping for decades. A lot of teenagers play video games, so surprise! Most teenage murderers do too.

Of the media, games are probably the most influential because you aren't watching it, you're doing it.
Again with the "most influential", although you threw in a "probably" which makes your statement meaningless. "You're doing it"? Prove it. How are they doing it? Who dies when I throw a grenade in BF2? Why is it I still can't fly a spaceship despite all these space sims.

Re:Case Study (1)

PFI_Optix (936301) | about 8 years ago | (#15061317)

Nice ad hominem. Asshole.


I thought so. Actually, I was making a point with it. You (assuming you are the same person, posting as AC for some reason or another) are being ridiculous.

The problem is that you are taking a correlation (video games & violence) that is a very weak one, and trying to prove causation, i.e. that the practice of video games enhances some violent instinct.


So are you saying that violent video games have no effect on young people with a history of violent behavior? That they don't try to emulate what they see/do?

On a broader scope, are you saying that youth are not influenced by the things they see and hear, that all their decisions are made within the vacuum of their own mind, and that we shouldn't care what they are exposed to because it doesn't matter?

http://www.apa.org/releases/media_violence.html [apa.org]

However, in order to make this work you have to take a very tiny selective sample of violence. Most murders are committed by adults, generally urban criminals, who are not sitting around playing GTA before they go out and commit it. The murder rate among teenagers is a tiny portion of the total, and has been dropping for decades. A lot of teenagers play video games, so surprise! Most teenage murderers do too.


The question is, do violent video games, when played by certain teenagers, influence their behavior? Apparently you don't think it's at all possible. The APA disagrees.

Again with the "most influential", although you threw in a "probably" which makes your statement meaningless. "You're doing it"? Prove it. How are they doing it? Who dies when I throw a grenade in BF2? Why is it I still can't fly a spaceship despite all these space sims.


Engaging in simulated activities often stimulates the same part of the brain as actually engaging in the activity in real life. Throwing a grenade at someone in BF2 may not actually kill someone, but a small part of your brain registers that killing is enjoyable. In the vast majority of people, we can distinguish between the two realities and not have any desire to kill someone in real life. A handful of disturbed individuals do not.

Note my emphasis on disturbed. We're not talking about your average gamer. I've made it a point to say from the beginning that this is not a problem for most people. But even if it's one out of a thousand or one out of ten thousand gamers, that's too many to put GTA in the hands of every kid who asks for it. Let their parents do their jobs and decide what is right for their kids.

Re:Case Study (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | about 8 years ago | (#15073118)

Engaging in simulated activities often stimulates the same part of the brain as actually engaging in the activity in real life. Throwing a grenade at someone in BF2 may not actually kill someone, but a small part of your brain registers that killing is enjoyable.

No, it registers that you've defeated or injured an opponent. In the context it's in, it is no different than scoring a 1st down in football. Context is important.

Re:Case Study (1)

jthill (303417) | about 8 years ago | (#15073998)

The actual study [apa.org] cited in the article you link says
Most researchers of aggression agree that severe aggressive and violent behavior seldom occurs unless there is a convergence of multiple predisposing and precipitating factors such as neurophysiological abnormalities, poor child rearing, socioeconomic deprivation, poor peer relations, attitudes and beliefs supporting aggression, drug and alcohol abuse, frustration and provocation, and other factors.
Now, several things strike me about this list. For starters, exposure to actual violence — seeing an actual crime committed, say an abusive parent — is nowhere on this list. And the list makes no mention at all of the child's native personality.

And when it's pointed out to the study's author that it might just be that children who are not drawn to violence will spend less time watching violent television than children who are drawn to violence, does he say his study shows otherwise?

No.

He says

It is more plausible
his way. Perhaps you can see why the Judge was unimpressed.

Re:Case Study (1)

2008 (900939) | about 8 years ago | (#15064380)

"Why do violent people get in fights, steal cars, or shoot police? You think those ideas come out of a vacuum?"

That's really absurd. You think that getting into fights, something which we've been doing since before we were primates, is due to the media? You've never seen cats fight? Do you think they played too much Tekken?

I'm pretty sure people stole before we'd invented writing too. Shooting police... well when they carry guns and threaten to use them on you it doesn't take a genius to come up with the idea. Shooting them for no reason, fine, blame Dr Dre.

Hold the presses for rewrite... (1)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | about 8 years ago | (#15058010)

Judge Throws Out Michigan Violent Games Law >> Judge pumps a cap in ass of Michigan Violent Games Law

Thank God (1)

DesireCampbell (923687) | about 8 years ago | (#15058751)

Thank God this shit isn't happening in Canada :)

You're probably joking, but... (1)

Hamster Lover (558288) | about 8 years ago | (#15060617)

Manitoba, Ontario and Nova Scotia have laws that codify compliance with the ESRB ratings. Also, retailers like Walmart and EB Games have voluntarily agreed to apply the ESRB ratings to purchases in their stores across Canada.

Relation . . . No Judicial Activism . . . (2, Informative)

Dausha (546002) | about 8 years ago | (#15058890)

It appears the state saw the video game law as an answer to obscenity in gaming. The S.Ct. allows government censorship of obscenity provided the government can show a rational relation between what they have done and what legitimate state purpose they are hoping to serve. This is considered the lowest threshhold for the Government to justify the Constitutionality of one of its acts. It is by this same rational basis that allows state, local, and Federal governments to seize land from one property owner and give to another if they believe it is better economically, thus turning a property right into an economic right.

What the judge has basically said here is the State has failed to meet even the lowest standard to prove Consitutionality.

This is a Federal Court judge applying established Supreme Court jurisprudence to what is categorically an obscenity issue. I see no judicial activism here.

Judicial activism occurs when a judge renders a decision clearly at odds with otherwise valid laws or established precedent that is itself founded on sound jurisprudence. Since the First Amendment grants Free Speech, but the government still has an interest in not allowing people to yell "Fire" in a crowded theater, the Court has categorized speech that may be restricted uncer certain criteria. Obscenity is one such category, and it is given the low threshhold because it is argueably not the meaning of the First Amendment.

Conversely, if this were completely political speech, the Government should have a near impossible chance to silence it. So, this judge is acting completely within the framework offered by the Court, and is not bucking precedent. Therefore, he is not an activist.

What we have hear is a Legislature that is clearly wrong on this one. I would love to see the breakdown of votes by party as the web site suggests a nearly equal footing by both parties.

Re:Relation . . . No Judicial Activism . . . (1)

Dausha (546002) | about 8 years ago | (#15058939)

Although, I should point out that the Supreme Court has said in the past (by upholding campaign finance restrictions) that corporations may not have First Amendment rights. A corporation is not "the People" for whom the Constitution protects in this context, IMO.

Re:Relation . . . No Judicial Activism . . . (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | about 8 years ago | (#15059891)

This is a Federal Court judge applying established Supreme Court jurisprudence to what is categorically an obscenity issue. I see no judicial activism here.

I would be curious as to why you think that obscenity caselaw was used, when the definition of obscenity requires that sex be involved, and this law is about violence.

Re:Relation . . . No Judicial Activism . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15060215)

Probably because "obscenity" is the only grounds violent games could conceivably be banned under. The simple fact is that they are not "obscene" even under the very broad terms of the obscenity laws. That's why the law was struck down.

IANAL, obviously.

Re:Relation . . . No Judicial Activism . . . (1)

Dausha (546002) | about 8 years ago | (#15060260)

You make a good point. I should have been more clear as to my logic--which is typically murky.

I used obscene in the older meaning, which was to mean something abhorrent. I neglected the sexual use because at least obscenity does not carry an immediacy element. Obscentity can also mean speech deemed to be against community standards. This might include using swear words at a circus with lots of young children around, but would not include the same words used at a bar.

However, I believe the same test is applied to incitement or fighting words, which fits the shouting Fire anecdote. However, incitement is clearly prohibited speech that is intended to provoke others to commit violence. The words must present a clear and imminent (present) danger. Since video games are more like printed material there is no imminent element--so no incitement. So, I thought that only obscenity would fit.

Granted, I should read the judge's actual opinion to know his rational. But on /. it's more fun to argue absent RTFA. :-) Based on my reading of the article it appeared he might have been applying the same rational basis test--and telling MI they did not even have a rational basis for their law. That would make sense to me.

Re:Relation . . . No Judicial Activism . . . (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | about 8 years ago | (#15060654)

Obscentity can also mean speech deemed to be against community standards.

No. In a legal sense, obscenity has a very specific meaning. In order for speech to be obscene, it must:

1) When taken as a whole, applying community standards, appears to appeal to prurient interests;
2) Depict or describe in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct; and
3) When taken as a whole, lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

That 'and' is important, as all three conditions have to be met.

This might include using swear words at a circus with lots of young children around,

No, that would ordinarily not be obscene. Saying 'fuck this' doesn't really have anything to do with sex. It's just an expletive. The traditional case on this is the Cohen case, also known as the Fuck the Draft case. As the Court said, to be obscene, the material has to be erotic. The slogan Cohen had printed on his jacket simply wasn't. The fact that it might be offensive to kids wasn't enough to justify censorship; when kids are out in public, the free speech of adults takes precedence over their tender sensibilities.

However, I believe the same test is applied to incitement or fighting words

No, not the same. And I believe there are slight differences between incitement and fighting words as well.

The words must present a clear and imminent (present) danger.

No, that's an outdated standard. It was replaced by Brandenburg v. Ohio a long time ago.

Why is this bad again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15059969)

We dont sell porn, beer, or smokes to kids, why do we want them to be able to buy games like GTA and Hitman?

Re:Why is this bad again? (1)

Harinezumi (603874) | about 8 years ago | (#15060549)

Why is the fact that we don't sell those things to kids good and worthy of expansion, and what relation does GTA and Hitman have to porn, beer, and/or smokes?

Re:Why is this bad again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15064406)

hmm....well ok, the porn isnt so bad, but alcohol poisoning and cancer are good reasons not to sell beer and smokes to kids.
I would say that we shouldnt sell them to kids because kids are stupid and might actualy be negatively affected by a game like grand theft auto.

now, why does anyone want to kids to be able to buy games ment for adults?

What is the difference? (1)

vethia (900978) | about 8 years ago | (#15061548)

I'm personally ambivalent on the idea of whether violent games should be sold to minors or not--yes, parents should be responsible for checking out what their kids play, but there are also many ways for children to get the games without parents' money or presence--but this brings up a point of comparison for me.

Movies, like games, are rated according to their content and whether or not it is appropriate for different age groups. Some movies kids can see on their own, some only with a parent present who has determined that the child is mature enough to handle the material, and some are inappropriate no matter what. Why is it different for a video game? Both are visual depictions of sensitive material.

I can't say whether or not the sale of M-rated games to minors should be banned, just as I'm not sure whether or not the viewing or rental of R-rated movies to childern under 17 should be prohibited. The fact is, though, that one medium is being legally regulated while the other is not. Does anybody else see something wrong with this? If it is illegal to prohibit kids from buying M-rated games, shouldn't it be illegal to bar them from attending R-rated movies? And if it is logical and desirable that these restrictions should be placed on movies, why are games any different?

All in all, my instinct is that prohibiting sales of M-rated games to children without parental consent is a good thing. Kids might think they're mature enough to handle sensitive material, but it is the parent who ought to have the maturity to know which games or movies the child should be watching. If after that a child is negatively affected by a violent video game, it's entirely the parent's fault--he or she should have been more vigilant about the child's experiences and information intake. Saying that a kid can't by a M-rated game on his or her own isn't prohibiting the kid from playing--it's just a way to involve parents in the decision.

What we do need is probably a better, more comprehensive, and more accurate ratings system for video games. I'm given to understand that movie ratings are carried out more rigorously than game ratings, and I've heard many complaints that video game ratings are either inaccurate or insufficient. If ratings were more closely policed, I don't think it would be a problem to regulate video game sales. If a game is rated mature and can only be bought with parents present, then on their head be it if their children are exposed to material they don't condone.

The next wave WILL bring evidence (1)

kafros (896657) | about 8 years ago | (#15064439)

From the article:
Judge Steeh is pushing for evidence showing the link between playing violent video games and actual acts of violence committed by players.

I am expecting that the next wave of laws that target games will be bundled with such "evidence" from "experts"...

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