COMMENTARY | The boys in my home range in age from 7 to over 30, so it shouldn’t be shocking for anyone to learn that gaming is a common pastime in my home. In a 7-2 ruling Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a California law restricting the sales of violent video games to minors, declaring it an unconstitutional limit on free speech. As a mother of two boys who play video games, a quasi-gamer and an advocate for free speech, I am thrilled about the ruling.
As a mom, I take responsibility for the games that come into my home. It is my job as a parent to be aware of what my children are doing, what video games they are playing, and what books they are reading. Every game that comes through my door is inspected by the adults in the house to determine whether it is appropriate for our children to play. It is called parental responsibility.
I have long been an advocate for the First Amendment in its entirety, and it really bothers me when other people decide what I can see, read, or hear because they have determined it is for the good of all. It bothers me when places like California decide to take that right away from me as a parent and determine what my sons should be able to see, read or hear.
Can you imagine a world where you can’t teach your children about history because violence from wars has been documented? Can you imagine not taking them into a church where a statue of Jesus being crucified is hung because it is a violent image? Can you imagine not being able to take your child into a museum because Caravaggio’s “Judith” is displayed and it depicts Judith beheading Holofernes –a scene found in the Bible? I certainly can’t. Just like I cannot imagine a world where someone dictates what books I can read, what art I’m allowed to observe, or what video games I’m allowed to play. And that is definitely not a world that I want for my children.
Lucy A. Daglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee on Free Speech, summed up the meaning of the ruling quite clearly:
“Time and again, from the early days of radio and television, to 10-cent comic books and now to video games, lawmakers have tried to limit speech for what they believe to be the public good. And each time, they have lost because the First Amendment will not tolerate such wholesale limitations on expression merely because someone has created a new mode of communication. The majority decision ensures that violent content in any medium, including content produced by news outlets, will not come under the same censorship.”