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Video Game Violence Is Free Speech

What's the Latest Development?

In a 7-2 decision in the case of Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, the Supreme Court has decided that laws restricting the sale of violent video games to minors violate the right to free speech protected by the First Amendment. The majority opinion was written by Justice Antonin Scalia: "Since California has declined to restrict those other media, e.g., Saturday morning cartoons, its video-game regulation is wildly underinclusive, raising serious doubts about whether the State is pursuing the interest it invokes or is instead disfavoring a particular speaker or viewpoint."

What's the Big Idea?

Ars Technica comes out in favor of the Court's decision, saying that it is high time for video games to be recognized as a legitimate means of artistic expression. And while the Court's responsibility was to interpret the California law in terms of the national Constitution, the culture which it defended was troubling. Chief Justice Samuel Alito concurred with the majority: "For better or worse, our society has long regarded many depictions of killing and maiming as suitable features of popular entertainment, including entertainment that is widely available to minors."

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