This Monday, the Supreme Court has refused the initiative of the State of California which consisted in regulating the access of the children to the movies and videogames that present graphic violence. The Court arguments that the state does not have the power to “restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed”, even if the intentions are to protect them.
“No doubt a state possesses legitimate power to protect children from harm” Justice Antonin Scalia, “but that does not include a free-floating power to restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed”. The federal appeal to ban the sale or rental video games to minors was lost on a 7 – 2 vote. If approved, California could have limited the access of anyone under the age of 18 to violent video games. Any retailer selling or renting such products to minors would have paid a fine of 1,000 for each infraction.
Scalia said that in the US there is no tradition of preventing children to witness depictions of acts of violence in the same way depictions of “sexual conduct” are. He pointed out that many of the fairytales include violence, like Hansel and Gretel, Show White, or Cinderella. In any of these stories, in their original form, people can find acts of cruelty. In the Snow White and the seven dwarfs story, unlike the Disney movie, the evil Queen has an atrocious and cruel death: she has to dance in red hot slippers until she dies. In the original Cinderella story, her step sisters don’t get away that easily: their eyes are pecked out by doves. And who doesn’t know the final moments of the old hag’s in Hansel and Gretel? The two children trick her into the hot oven and let her bake to death. “Certainly the books we give children to read — or read to them when they are younger — contain no shortage of gore” Scalia concluded.
However, Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Stephen Breyer, the ones who voted for the law, said that The First Amendment says nothing about the freedom of speech of the minors, without passing it through their parents or guardians.