Today’s return of Boo You! Monday has me giving a big hearty Boo You! to the U.S. Supreme Court for its decision in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, in which the USSC struck down California’s ban on sales of violent video games to minors.
Now my beef with this 7-2 decision is probably not what most people’s beef is. I actually don’t like the law the Court struck down, so on that count I’m with the majority. It was poorly drafted reactionary paternalism. What pisses me off is the same thing that irritates dissenter Justice Breyer. Justice Breyer reasons that, if it’s OK to restrict the sale of materials depicting nudity to minors, and the Court has said and still does say that kind of restriction on speech is OK, why should depictions of extreme violence be any different? As Justice Breyer notes, this creates an anomaly in First Amendment jurisprudence:
“But what sense does it make to forbid selling to a 13-year-old boy a magazine with an image of a nude woman, while protecting a sale to that 13 year-old of an interactive video game in which he actively,but virtually, binds and gags the woman, then tortures and kills her? What kind of First Amendment would permit the government to protect children by restricting sales of that extremely violent video game only when the woman — bound, gagged, tortured, and killed — is also topless?”
Justice Breyer is right. It doesn’t make sense. But, it is indicative of American culture: violence is A-OK, but our Puritan past tells us anything remotely sexual is prurient and scary.
So, Boo You! U.S. Supreme Court, for saying it’s OK for teenagers to virtually rape and kill a woman, but not see a naked breast. Creepy set of values we’re pushing here.