By Bryan Fischer
Follow me on Twitter: @BryanJFischer, on Facebook at “Focal Point”
The normally dependable Antonin Scalia wrote the majority opinion in one of the worst Supreme Court rulings in this generation or any other. This raises the question as to whether he or the other six misguided justices who joined him have read or understood the First Amendment.
Scalia said California has no right to prohibit the sale of violent video games to minors that depict “killing, maiming, dismembering or sexually assaulting an image of a human being.”
Players in the games that Scalia has ordered stores to sell to children without their parents’ permission or knowledge use weapons that included guns aimed point-blank to the head of kneeling, helpless victims, chainsaws, scythes, fillet knives and electric drills, with vivid displays of splatter and severed body parts rolling around on the sidewalk. One game allows players to set unsuspecting bystanders on fire.
Violent rapes are accompanied by the unheeded screams for mercy from the victims. One game involves chasing victims and shooting a never-ending stream of yellow urine at them.
If there was ever stuff that parents ought to be able to protect their minor children from, this is it. This ruling, which prohibits any kind of parental involvement in the rental or purchase of such games, is a tragic infringement on parental rights. We’re way past “Father Knows Best” and into “Nine Tyrants in Robes Know Better but Don’t Have a Clue.”
If these justices had teenage boys, and one of them brought something like this home, it wouldn’t be long before they’d be saying, “You know, there ought to be a law.” Well, there was, but the Supremes in all their benighted wisdom have disabled it.
Scalia laughably said he had to strike down this law because government does not have a “free-floating power to restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed.”
This is profoundly wrong in at least two respects. One, Justice Scalia, we’re not talking about ideas here. We are talking about images - images of rape and severed heads rattling around in the gutter. I repeat, those are images, not ideas.
And while he may falsely believe that the state does not have such a right, parents certainly do, and Scalia just yanked that right away from them in the name of an all-powerful and all-knowing central government. Shame on him.
The First Amendment protects freedom of speech. The operative word here is “speech,” Justice Scalia. It protects “speech,” not “expression,” not “images of decapitated bodies with blood spouting from the neck.” This is not a hard concept to understand.
The First Amendment was intended by the Founders to protect a specific kind of speech, namely political speech. The sole purpose of the First Amendment plank on free speech was to protect robust debate over matters of public policy. It was never intended to provide cover for pornography, obscenity, vulgarity, or violent imagery. The Founders would roll over in their parchment to see what Scalia has done here to their beloved Bill of Rights.
Justice Thomas alone seems to grasp how this ruling eviscerates parental rights. “The practices and beliefs of the founding generation establish that ‘the freedom of speech,’ as originally understood, does not include a right to speak to minors (or a right of minors to access speech) without going through the minors’ parents or guardians.”
All hail to winger-left Justice Breyer, who joined Thomas in dissent and perhaps for the first time showed some wisdom as a jurist. He clearly understands the schizoid thinking now enshrined as constitutional jurisprudence by this misguided Court.
What sense," he wrote, "does it make to forbid selling to a 13-year-old boy a magazine with an image of a nude woman, while protecting the 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?"
Breyer was convinced, as all nine justices should have been, by evidence from numerous studies that there is a link between playing violent video games and an increase in aggressive thoughts, anti-social behavior and desensitization to violence. This happens with both adults and minors, but is particularly troublesome when it affects the maturing brain pathways in juvenile males.
And besides, such considerations are not even appropriate for a court. That’s why we have legislatures, to debate these issues, consider all the relevant data and research and craft policies in the public interest. The Court was never intended by the Constitution to serve as a kind of super-legislature which gets to second-guess and Monday-morning-quarterback decisions made by the elected representatives of the people.
The fact that the Supreme Court even took this case at all is a sign of how used we have become to judicial tyranny. A right-thinking Court would have said, “Get this case out of this courtroom. We have no right even to weigh in on this case. This is for the people of California to decide, and your elected representatives have decided. If you don’t like this law, then don’t come to us, get yourselves some different elected representatives. End of story.”
We have been sliding for some time toward a moral abyss in America. The Supreme Court just accelerated the plunge.
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)