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Senator Yee Speaks Up for the Nanny State

Next week the US Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the oral arguments for whether the State of California can regulate the sale of video games to minors. If you’ve somehow missed this case, which has been winding it’s way through the courts since September of 2005 when the state regulation was first passed, feel free to go back and read the other posts with this tag. Or perform a web search, because it’s a very popular topic right now.

The original backer of the bill, California State Senator Leland Yee, has released another statement of support for this regulation, couched once more in the language of protecting the children and looking out for the best interests of the public. There has been a lot of speculation about why the Supreme Court took this case, because every lower court considering this issue has ruled against the regulations as unconstitutionally vague. It is possible that the Court will sanction the State of California harshly for continuing to pursue this matter in spite of other precedent, but it is also as possible that the Court will overturn all the lower courts and say that the regulation of video games is not a matter that should be given the full protection of the First Amendment.

Supporters of regulation, like State Senator Yee, have couched their arguments to appeal to a conservative Court, and while the judicial system may lag behind technology by several years, this Court may be more unpredictable than expected. Even the alleged quotes in Yee’s statement are slanted in his favor.

As an example, he restates the issue before the court as:  “Does the First Amendment permit statutory limits on the sale and rental of violent video games to minors when compelling reasons exist to support such state restrictions,” including hundreds of studies pointing to harmful effects on children? The issue is limited to that in quotes, and the tagline is added by Yee or his staffers to make it appear that their side should win.

Also, which studies? It’s very well and good to claim scientific support for your position, but sophisticated readers and legal scholars know that you have to cite your sources for them to lend your argument any weight. I would hesitate to suggest a public official of may be involved in puffery, but looking at the page title for the statement quoted above, it doesn’t seem that far-fetched.

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Posted in Tuesday: Potpourri.

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