Skip to comments.Michigan Violent Game Bill Ruled Unconstitutional
Posted on 04/04/2006 9:37:02 AM PDT by Fractal Trader
Judge George Caram Steeh, United States District Judge for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, has handed down a permanent injunction halting the implementation of the new Michigan state law that would restrict video game sales to minors. This marks the sixth court in three years to rule video game sales as being unconstitutional.
In his decision, the judge dismissed the state's claim that the interactive nature of video games makes them less entitled to First Amendment protection. "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," Judge Steeh wrote. "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."
"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," said Douglas Lowenstein, President of the ESA, the trade group representing U.S. computer and video game publishers. "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."
In addition, and echoing the sentiments of researchers at the recent subcommittee hearing entitled Whats in a Game? State Regulation of Violent Video Games and the First Amendment regarding the difficulties in associating video game violence and real world aggression, the court said, "Dr. [Craig] Anderson's studies have not provided any evidence that the relationship between violent video games and aggressive behavior exists." It added that the evidence introduced alleging that new brain mapping studies show a link between violent games and aggressive thought is equally unpersuasive. "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," the Judge wrote.
Addressing the state's claims that video games are more harmful than TV because the player controls the action, the court said there is no evidence to support such a claim, adding that "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 videogame industry does not advance the state's alleged goal," the Judge concluded.
"Nominated by William J. Clinton on September 24, 1997"
Whoever wrote this spends too much time playing video games and not enough time editing.
Now excuse me while I start up HALO!
We don't need more cops, we need more common sense and self control.
Yes, kids under 18 need more self control. Why are there age limits on porn, drinking etc, etc?
In two places in the article, the auther actually says the opposite of what he means. Incredible.
We certainly can't expect the parents to be at all responsible.
Why is the availability of M rated games even an issue?
Every time I buy M rated stuff at Best Buy I get carded. I'm in my 30's for chrissakes. I have a few gray hairs! Don't tell me retailiers aren't carding people on this stuff. Several retailers I've purchased M rated games for have cash register triggers asking for DOB's like they do for cigarette sales.
Before any anti-gaming types stand up and ask what the big deal is since these games are obviously "murder simulators" or "crime simulators" please note that games like Halo 2 where players engage in combat with aliens and there's purple "blood" are M rated games. So are other science fiction games like Doom 3.
Meanwhile games like Burnout where the entire object of the game is to crash into other vehicles, cause massive million dollar wrecks and plow other racers into walls is rated T for teen.
Placing the criminal or financial onus on retailers is BS. It's passing the buck for bad parenting and lack of supervision. Making it so your Xbox 360, for example, can't play M rated games or R and X rated movies is easier than typing in a URL in your browser. Those settings, once programmed, can be password protected and can't be changed by a kid.
This is just political posturing for special interests and completely pointless.
Then Clinton did something right.
IYHO, not mine.
Can't watch 'em 24/7. Some of them go to school, have friends, go to the mall. Of course, if we could just lock them up until they are about 30, that might work.
Clearly not everyone is a responsible adult or parent.
Exactly, which is why you need to instill good values in your children - teach them right from wrong and all that.
Nanny state is never the solution.
If you fear that as soon as your child gets out of view, all hell breaks loose you have clearly failed as a parent (which many have).
(and that's 'you' in general, not you, mlc)
nanny state smacked down ping
Actually video games are the least of my kids' problems! LOL
What does this mean? It's unconstitutional to not sell a sex laden video game to a 10 year old?
I have to wonder how many opinions would change on both sides of this argument if the video games depicted only cock fighting or pit bulls fighting and killing each other.
What does this mean?
Try reading the article.
critical shortcomings of law enforcement? you mean like the eaton county deputy that (allegedly) shot himself and filed a false report against a fictional black man?
It's called "pokemon".
Only an aqwful, awful parent has to watch their kids 24/7. If you're kid is 15 and you are constantly monitoring him, then you have failed as a parent, and the monitoring of your kid is simply damage control.
I on the other hand, fail at English.
Video game sales being unconstitutional??
"This is just political posturing for special interests and completely pointless."
That is exactly right. Toss a few bones to the social conservatives and see if they'll bark for you. I predict we'll see a lot more of these articles and efforts in the coming months, trying to energize the authoritarian right to get out to vote.
In the light of facts, there is no "crisis" to bemoan.
This data is from U.S. Department of Justice - Bureau of Justice Statistics. The particular chart is from here.
Superimposed below are a few video game related dates, to give context for the timespan.
All that has increased is media coverage of rarer and rarer events. If it wasn't for pesky things like facts and reality, the authoritarians may actually have a point.
So should sales of all other products be legalized to minors?
Well, why not? Shouldn't it be the parents that are responsible?
Stupid questions like that sometimes make me wonder if I've somehow slipped into the DU.
I was just repeating what you said above. I agree it is stupid.
How does your 10 year old have enough money to buy a game in the first place? Time to shrink that allowance a bit.
I wonder if it could also show when the average Gen-Xer began parenting? Arbitrarily picking between the arguable dates Strauss & Howe choose (1960-1980) and the dates many others seem to prefer (1965-1980) and arriving at 1963 as the starting date for Gen X, then considering that the same generation usually hasn't married until age 27...maybe the likely cause of crime's nosedive is more evident than some would admit. Of course, it could be that videogames actually prevent crime, too.
Dood, have you seen rich parents and how much money they give their kids now days? Not all rich parents, but a lot of them do.
I am quite the avid gamer and it's freaking amazing how many kids are on these online games. And the games really aren't the worst part, it's the community. Imagine your kid hanging out at a dorm house and listening in to the casual types of conversations that go on there.
These online games are full of it, and I cannot count how many kids I see come on.
How do I know they are kids and not just someone saying they are 12, 13 ext? Well some of the games I play have voice communication in them. And that type of language and subject matter that you would hear at a frat house is talked all around them.
Also, I help to run a multigaming faction. That's like an online gamers club, were friends play different online games together. When you have a large clan, guild, or faction (or whatever the certain's game term for gaming club) you typically get alot of new recruits. We have voice communication servers for our club and we hear these kids come on, wanting to join. They are the most foul mouthed, perverted kids. Course, there are some uncorrupted kids out there too, we allow them to join.
I have actually considered running a service that would be like a "family safe" gaming environment, with servers in all games, forums ext. Because there are just so many young kids out there who's parents give them complete high speed access on computers in their room.
I mean, it's not like I can tell these kids "hey, go tell your parents to take your computer out of your room and put it in the family room". They would laugh at me.
But ya, all these kids buy their own games all the time. Their parents having no clue as to what they are buying.
It's quite frightening how many parents don't really know anything about what their kids are doing on the computer. I said earlier that parents who need to monitor their kids are complete failures as parents, but that also doesn't mean you shouldn't be checking in once in a while, too. Personally, I hope to play games with my kid as he grows up, although he might not have much time for that in between becoming the next Joe Namath and curing cancer :).
I hate nanny government as much as the next guy, but there are far too many crappy parents nowadays. I would be in full support of classes or something funded by the government, and free to the public.
Well there are. Well, they get grants, they aren't usually government ran. Courts usually require them for parents in danger of losing parental rights over their kids. But that only helps the destitute. Normal parents aren't going to go to a parenting class. That would be degrading in their eyes. "No one needs to tell me how to raise my own kids.. I'm their best friend."
I'm mad at HALO2 for not coming out with a PC version.
I got Quake4 as an alternative and am happily getting my butt kicked daily.
I have actually never played HALO, but I thought it would be funny to write that.
Play a real mans game, like Counter Strike, or BF2, or COD2.... :-P
That's another thing that parents are letting their kids run free on, XBox Live. It has full voice communication.
Take that chart of yours, draw in the passage of CCW laws in various and sundry states, and it'll make more sense :)
Anyway your point is also valid. The everything-grabbers don't give a rat's 6 about actual problems, although they appreciate them for the opportunity they provide to implement bogus solutions.