Tuesday, November 2, 2010

News from the Fish Bowl: Supreme Court on Video Game Censorship Law

Okay, I don't play video games.  I'm a goldfish and I'd rather read books, although sometimes I admit I like it when the Deej takes me to the pizza place so I can play pinball.  I'm something of a pinball wizard.  I've got crazy flipper fingers.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the U.S. Supreme Court is arguing over a California law to ban violent video games from minors.  The law narrowly targets games depicting particularly graphic interactive violence with no artistic value directed at realistic characters.  Interactive torture porn is the intended target, apparently.

The state's video game law was struck down as unconstitutional before it went into effect. Similar laws in other states have met the same fate.

The justices voted to hear California's appeal, but they sounded split Tuesday.

Scalia insisted that since the nation's founding, depictions of sex could be banned, but not depictions of violence and torture.

This drew a mocking rebuke from Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., who is usually allied with Scalia on the conservative side. [more...]

Among the games that would go on the banned-from-minors list is Postal 2, which another LA Times article describes thusly:

One version of the video game "Postal 2" features an easily angered "postal guy" with dark glasses and a high-powered rifle. He wanders through town killing everyone he sees, leaving them bloody and mutilated. A trip to the library turns into carnage of mass shootings and blazing fires.

Another features young girls being struck by a shovel as they beg for mercy. The player can then pour gasoline over them, set them on fire.... [more...]

Comment: What to ban and how to ban it is always a difficult subject, but something is seriously wrong when a game like Postal 2 is widely available to any age demographic. Interactive face-smashing, burning, and urinating on young girls is corrupting to adults as well as to minors.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, "Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials" because they do "grave injury to the dignity of...participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others" (2354).  Further, "Teaching modesty to children and adolescents means awakening in them respect for the human person" (2524).  Though I can't find anything in the Catechism on violence in entertainment, I think the wanton violent fantasies invited by games like Postal 2 are contrary to "respect for the human person" and depict people as "objects of base pleasure."  Catholics should probably support banning them for the same reason they support banning pornography.

And it is probably worth asking how we even got to the point that a game like Postal 2 can be sold on store shelves instead of in dark alleys.
blog comments powered by Disqus