Supreme Court WTF



  • The US Supreme Court today ruled 7-2 that the sale of video games to minors constitutes protected (i.e. "free") speech. This strikes down a California law that banned the sale of certain computer games to minors.



    It had never occurred to me that the authors of the Bill of Rights intended their "freedom of speech" to extend to the corruption of the children of others. In fact, I would have thought that the "Common Law" foundations of the system would have long ago made a distinction between the discourse of consenting adults, and the broad category of things that one ought not say to children (especially to strange children, or children in general).



    If I decide to approach the minor family members of, say, Antonin Scalia, and start singing the praises of necrophilia, bestiality, etc., am I to supposed to believe that this constitutes protected speech?



    Unfortunately, simple wisdom of this sort, despite being frequently mislabeled "common sense," is apparently not something I share in "common" with other people (particularly people involved with the US Federal Government).



    What's really sad is that the "free speech" right had already been weakened on other fronts, to the point that there was really not much for Scalia et al. to protect, anyway. Put simply, they sacrificed our children to protect a right that doesn't exist anyway. So-called "fighting words" have already been removed from the realm of protected speech by the Court. Now, we're at the point where 1) I can communicate whatever I want to communicate to your children, and enjoy constitutional protection but 2) if I say something that provokes some knuckle-dragging American to violence, that's not protected speech.



    Even if I'm wrong about the law here, what does that say about the US Constitution? I would say that this document is ambiguous, anachronistic, and (now) amoral. I suppose that many of us already knew these things; there is a strong climate of denial surrounding them, though.



    Kudos to Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer (neither of whom is particularly popular with the public, in my experience) for dissenting.



  • As a gamer I am glad for this ruling and the legal precedent is sets. Now keep in mind stores can still decide not to sell violent games to minors. It just there cannot be a law mandating it.



  • Seriously?

    @bridget99 said:

    The US Supreme Court today ruled 7-2 that the sale of video games to minors constitutes protected (i.e. "free") speech. This strikes down a California law that banned the sale of certain computer games to minors.

    In what way are video games not speech? It's been long established that the First Amendment applies to all forms of speech.

    @bridget99 said:

    It had never occurred to me that the authors of the Bill of Rights intended their "freedom of speech" to extend to the corruption of the children of others.

    If you've read the position, you'll know of course that the majority judges considered that point, and agreed that the "corruption of children" was entirely unproven. Studies showing otherwise either mixed up correlation and causation, or had flawed methodology, or both.

    So, do you know of a study that proves a causal link between violent video games and violence in kids?

    Note that the decision also contains a long history of other forms of media that were once considered harmful to kids, and points out (rightly) that even though they weren't banned, crimes rates in the US have never been lower. (On the contrary, some analysts theorize access to affordable violent video games is a factor in *why* the crime rates are so low right now. Not well-proven, though.)

    @bridget99 said:

    In fact, I would have thought that the "Common Law" foundations of the system would have long ago made a distinction between the discourse of consenting adults, and the broad category of things that one ought not say to children (especially to strange children, or children in general).

    I will hand you this: it's hypocritical of the Court to decide in this case that minors are in the same "class" as adults, and as deserving of First Amendment rights, but then in other decisions determine that school officials have the right to punish minors for activities committed off-campus. (Meaning, the infamous "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case.)

    So while I applaud this decision, I wish the Court would endeavor to be more consistent in their rulings.

    @bridget99 said:

    If I decide to approach the minor family members of, say, Antonin Scalia, and start singing the praises of necrophilia, bestiality, etc., am I to supposed to believe that this constitutes protected speech?

    If you were convicted, it would be of harassment, not for using prohibited speech. Thankfully, we don't have such a thing as "prohibited speech" in the US, and this ruling helps keep it that way.

    @bridget99 said:

    So-called "fighting words" have already been removed from the realm of protected speech by the Court.

    Cite? Which case are you referring to?

    @bridget99 said:

    2) if I say something that provokes some knuckle-dragging American to violence, that's not protected speech.

    Intent is a factor. As always.

    Do you believe the makers of violent video games intend children to become violent criminals? (Obviously not; video games have the best rating system available in any media right now. And most, if not all, retailers will fire employees who sell M-rated video games to minors.)

    Here's another puzzler: you know the book American Psycho? The book that's far more disturbing and violent than any video game I've ever played? Did you know there's absolutely nothing in-place right now to prevent an 8-year-old kid from purchasing and reading it? Nothing at all? Why does literature get a pass, but video games must be banned? If you're going to support censorship, at least:
    1) Support it consistently
    2) Fix the more flagrant holes before moving on to the small ones

    @bridget99 said:

    Even if I'm wrong about the law here, what does that say about the US Constitution? I would say that this document is ambiguous, anachronistic, and (now) amoral. I suppose that many of us already knew these things; there is a strong climate of denial surrounding them, though.

    The Constitution is supposed to be a living document, meaning that as it becomes out-of-date, it also provides guidelines on how to update itself. In the current political climate, however, that's simply not going to happen, especially to anything in the Bill of Rights. Tough, but there you go. (The gun debate could be solved in a single swoop by clarifying the language of the Second Amendment. I can practically guarantee that won't happen in my lifetime.)

    The Constitution is supposed to be ambiguous, to an extent. It's also supposed to be amoral, to an extent.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @bridget99 said:
    In fact, I would have thought that the "Common Law" foundations of the system would have long ago made a distinction between the discourse of consenting adults, and the broad category of things that one ought not say to children (especially to strange children, or children in general).

    I will hand you this: it's hypocritical of the Court to decide in this case that minors are in the same "class" as adults, and as deserving of First Amendment rights, but then in other decisions determine that school officials have the right to punish minors for activities committed off-campus. (Meaning, the infamous "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case.)

    So while I applaud this decision, I wish the Court would endeavor to be more consistent in their rulings.

    Interestingly, Thomas' dissent held basically that freedom of speech does not necessarily give someone the right to speak directly to the child without going through the parent. There are certainly other places in society where this is true. And children definitely have fewer rights in many areas. The corruption really shouldn't be an issue as far as the court is concerned with respect to the first amendment. But I think Thomas' position has some merit.

    Of course, the Supreme Court is the one court where overturning common law is generally accepted.

    @blakeyrat said:

    @bridget99 said:
    So-called "fighting words" have already been removed from the realm of protected speech by the Court.

    Cite? Which case are you referring to?

    Take a look at the wiki article on Fighting Words. In particular, it cites:
    @Random Internet People said:

    The fighting words doctrine, in United States constitutional law, is a limitation to freedom of speech as protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. In its 9-0 decision, Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire (1942), the U.S. Supreme Court established the doctrine and held that "insulting or 'fighting words,' those that by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace" are among the "well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech [that] the prevention and punishment of...have never been thought to raise any constitutional problem."

    There's more, and it's evolved since then, but it's a Real Thing.

    @blakeyrat said:

    @bridget99 said:
    Even if I'm wrong about the law here, what does that say about the US Constitution? I would say that this document is ambiguous, anachronistic, and (now) amoral. I suppose that many of us already knew these things; there is a strong climate of denial surrounding them, though.

    The Constitution is supposed to be a living document, meaning that as it becomes out-of-date, it also provides guidelines on how to update itself. In the current political climate, however, that's simply not going to happen, especially to anything in the Bill of Rights. Tough, but there you go. (The gun debate could be solved in a single swoop by clarifying the language of the Second Amendment. I can practically guarantee that won't happen in my lifetime.)

    I don't think it's very anachronistic. The "living document" thing has really been distorted, however. Many (especially self-described progressives) think the living document means that we can simply reinterpret our way into modern times without amending the constitution. I think it's generally a good thing that it's hard to change.

    As to the "morality," I think it's important to remember that "government" isn't a person. It's actually dangerous to anthropomorphize it. But it's often a case of choosing the lesser of evils. In this case, I'd say the tradeoff is not having to rely on government to know the difference between speech that doesn't really matter (e.g., video games) and speech that does (e.g., political speech and or criticism).



  • @bridget99 said:

    the corruption of the children of others
    @bridget99 said:
    necrophilia, bestiality, etc.
    @bridget99 said:
    they sacrificed our children

     ...

    Perspective: you appear to have none of it.



  • This ruling is stupid. Classification and ratings systems are in place to ensure that children can't buy such things without parental consent.

    In Australia, many games have been Refused Classification because they are considered too violent for an M15+ rating (movies, etc. have an R18+ rating however owing to the fact that Michael Atkinson is\was a complete douche one for video games was never implemented). It is illegal to sell a game with an M15+ rating to a minor without a parent or guardian with them at the time of purchase. Games in the M15+ category include Call Of Duty Modern Warfare 2, Red Dead Redemption, Fallout New Vegas, etc.

    Story time:

    As an employee for a department store in the sound and vision department, I'm required to abide by company policies and all the laws and regulations that we are required to follow lest we get fined (for example, filling out the effing piece of paper whenever we sell a prepaid service). Again, thanks in part to Mikey Atkinson and the (and I use this name loosely) Family First party, in South Australia, it is illegal to display DVD's\Blurays\etc. with an R18+ rating with other stock: it must be in it's own section, generally with a sign that says "Content In This Area May Offend". If DVD's\etc are displayed outside of this area and we are caught, we get fined, and inevitably someone will get fired. No other state does this. As such, our company took the position after a trial of this area that it is too difficult to police because quite often customers are lazy and will dump their stock wherever they want, regardless of how much we get fined.

    We have in stock at the moment the True Blood DVD's. We have one copy of each on display behind the counter and the rest stored in a locked drawer. A teenager (looked around 15 or 16) asked to purchase a copy. As required by law, I asked for ID. He was unable to present it so I declined the sale. I can live with that. From what I've heard, True Blood involves vampires swearing a lot, having sex a lot, possibly with some blood and gore on the side.

    Later that shift, a kid of no more than five or six years old comes up with what I assume is his father and pays for, from his own wallet, MW2 and a Nerf gun. I cannot decline the sale because, technically, nothing illegal is taking place: the M15+ restriction only states that if someone under the age of 15 attempts to purchase a video game and has a parent\guardian present it is allowed. I rang it up, a bit dumbfounded that a Father would let his son play such a video game. I didn't want to cause any issues so I didn't say anything (later when I told my manager about this and asked if there was anything we could do, he said that it was fine if we pointed out that it was an M15+ game and were they aware of that). If there were an R18+ classification for video games (which I believe is a Very Good Idea and support completely), and MW2 were in this classification, then this sale would not have allowed because R18+ items can only be sold to someone who is 18 or older, even if they have a parent with them.

    Classification laws are, in my opinion, not censorship, or a denial of free speech, they are more making guardians aware of the fact that, yes, there is content out there which is not suitable for children, at all, and that they should be taking an active role in determining what is and what is not suitable for their children. Yes, it may be my opinion (and a lot of other people's) that a five year old should not be playing MW2, nor even know about MW2, but if the guardian seems to think that this is suitable, I can jump up and down and kick up as much fuss as I want, but the guardian has made that decision for their child, and there's bugger all I can do about it.



  • @Douglasac said:

    This ruling is stupid. Classification and ratings systems are in place to ensure that children can't buy such things without parental consent.

    Perhaps it's stupid in the context of other countries' legal systems, but it makes a lot of sense in the US, where freedom of speech is generally taken more seriously than other parts of the world (see, for instance, the cases of Geert Wilders, Mark Steyn and Andrew Bolt).

    I don't think they said that classifications (like for movies) are illegal. Just that the government can't impose them. It's language like, "Congress shall make no law..." that we're dealing with here. This wasn't some private organization putting out ratings for vendors to follow. It was the state of California telling vendors what to do. Just because something is a good idea, doesn't mean there should be a law about it.



  • @Douglasac said:

    Later that shift, a kid of no more than five or six years old comes up with what I assume is his father and pays for, from his own wallet, MW2 and a Nerf gun. I cannot decline the sale because, technically, nothing illegal is taking place: the M15+ restriction only states that if someone under the age of 15 attempts to purchase a video game and has a parent\guardian present it is allowed. I rang it up, a bit dumbfounded that a Father would let his son play such a video game. I didn't want to cause any issues so I didn't say anything (later when I told my manager about this and asked if there was anything we could do, he said that it was fine if we pointed out that it was an M15+ game and were they aware of that). If there were an R18+ classification for video games (which I believe is a Very Good Idea and support completely), and MW2 were in this classification, then this sale would not have allowed because R18+ items can only be sold to someone who is 18 or older, even if they have a parent with them.
     

    I honestly don't see any problem with that story. The game was M15+ restricted, so the kid couldn't have bought it without knowledge of their parents. You were also perfectly allowed to ask the father if he really knew what he was doing there. The whole rest is, pardon, not your fucking problem. If that father apparently had reasons to think that MW2 is ok for his six year old son, then it's his own responsibillity.

    Also, do you think if games like that were banned for minors, no ifs, no buts, the minors would magically forget about them? Kids have plenty of opportunities to come in contact with "dangerous" media, via the older borther of a friend, via talk on the schoolyard, via the wonders of the internet, and so on. But apparently at least that kid told his dad about that strange game it has heard so much about - who knows, the dad might plan to play together with him, so he can discuss the game and provide a bit of context and knowledge on how to use the media, instead of just letting the school yard do that job.

    Of course there are lots of irresponsible parents, and, yeah, more realistically that dad was probably one of them. And I'm not even objecting that the state restricts how parents educate their children in certain aspects. But ratings systems and censorship laws aren't the place for that.



  • With the shit that's going on in the Bible, who cares about some games?



  • @boomzilla said:

    I don't think they said that classifications (like for movies) are illegal. Just that the government can't impose them. It's language like, "Congress shall make no law..." that we're dealing with here. This wasn't some private organization putting out ratings for vendors to follow. It was the state of California telling vendors what to do. Just because something is a good idea, doesn't mean there should be a law about it.

    This is the first thing in this thread that made sense to me.

    Thanks.

     

    (Actually, I cheated.  I searched the page for the word movies, then just read that post, because it was all TL;DNR and I was about to post about what the difference was between this and movies.)



  • @Douglasac said:

    In Australia, many games have been Refused Classification because they are considered too violent for an M15+ rating (movies, etc. have an R18+ rating however owing to the fact that Michael Atkinson is\was a complete douche one for video games was never implemented). It is illegal to sell a game with an M15+ rating to a minor without a parent or guardian with them at the time of purchase. Games in the M15+ category include Call Of Duty Modern Warfare 2, Red Dead Redemption, Fallout New Vegas, etc.

    Australia, Land Of Internet Censorship, doesn't respect free speech rights? SHOCKER!!

    @Douglasac said:

    This ruling is stupid. Classification and ratings systems are in place to ensure that children can't buy such things without parental consent.

    And we have the classification and ratings system in place. The difference is, in the US, they are voluntary, and not a government function. MPAA motion picture ratings are enforced because theaters and retailers choose to enforce them, not because they are forced to by the government; all is well in the world. This means, in the US, controversial art (by not applying for a MPAA rating), and mass entertainment art can co-exist in peace. Why should games be any different?

    And to expand on above: there are novels that are far more violent than any video game, and here in the US, publishing companies have *no* rating system whatsoever. The "rating" of American Psycho is the same as the "rating" of The Hardy Boys. If you are concerned about protecting children, why not go after the media that has *no* rating system first? Why single out video games?

    (Of course the real reason is that video games are relatively new, and novels have been around for centuries. And old people who are scared of "those damned kids!" like old things, like novels.)

    @Douglasac said:

    Later that shift, a kid of no more than five or six years old comes up with what I assume is his father and pays for, from his own wallet, MW2 and a Nerf gun. I cannot decline the sale because, technically, nothing illegal is taking place: the M15+ restriction only states that if someone under the age of 15 attempts to purchase a video game and has a parent\guardian present it is allowed. I rang it up, a bit dumbfounded that a Father would let his son play such a video game. I didn't want to cause any issues so I didn't say anything (later when I told my manager about this and asked if there was anything we could do, he said that it was fine if we pointed out that it was an M15+ game and were they aware of that). If there were an R18+ classification for video games (which I believe is a Very Good Idea and support completely), and MW2 were in this classification, then this sale would not have allowed because R18+ items can only be sold to someone who is 18 or older, even if they have a parent with them.

    That's the exact same problem we have in the US.

    But California's solution is wrong; stores *already* restrict the sale of games. They do not restrict the sale of games to the minor's guardian. That's current, voluntary, policy. Guess what? The CA law doesn't change that-- the lazy parent could still simply buy the game for the minor. So if that's the problem you're concerned about, you should be applauding this decision as well.

    @Douglasac said:

    Classification laws are, in my opinion, not censorship, or a denial of free speech,

    Fortunately, you're not on the Supreme Court.

    @Douglasac said:

    yes, there is content out there which is not suitable for children, at all, and that they should be taking an active role in determining what is and what is not suitable for their children.

    Except the government only needs to step in when it's video games, right? Novels are in the clear, regardless of how violent the content is. Let me ask you this, does the Aussie government currently have any laws restricting the sale of violent novels? Then why the double fucking standard? Think about it.

    And while you're thinking about novels and censorship, read Fahrenheit 451. Which, ironically, has been censored by various clueless governments over the years.

    @Rhywden said:

    With the shit that's going on in the Bible, who cares about some games?

    Remember that scene in A Clockwork Orange where Alex is sent to prison, and he passes his time by reading the Bible over and over again? However, he imagines himself in all the most violent roles... ending with a fantasy sequence of him as Pontius Pilate whipping Christ? That was epic.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Australia, Land Of Internet Censorship,
    Hmm, I thought that was China.

    Also, everything blakey just said.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Australia, Land Of Internet Censorship, doesn't respect free speech rights? Barry Crocker!!

    FTF Aussies



  • @Sutherlands said:

    @blakeyrat said:

    Australia, Land Of Internet Censorship,
    Hmm, I thought that was China.

    Also, everything blakey just said.

    The Land of Internet Censorship transcends national boundaries!



  • @Sutherlands said:

    @blakeyrat said:

    Australia, Land Of Internet Censorship,
    Hmm, I thought that was China.

    Not according to google it isn't



  • @serguey123 said:

    @Sutherlands said:

    @blakeyrat said:

    Australia, Land Of Internet Censorship,
    Hmm, I thought that was China.

    Not according to google it isn't

    That's an interesting measure, but it's not really a good measure of censorship. Also, there's some WTFiness going on there with Google using the hk domain instead of cn. And the fact that they can't talk about how many requests China used to submit: @tom's said:
    Google said that censorship requests are considered state secrets in China and it cannot reveal how many requests were submitted to the company before.
    I wonder how many requests from the US were wikileaks related.


  • @serguey123 said:

    @Sutherlands said:

    @blakeyrat said:

    Australia, Land Of Internet Censorship,
    Hmm, I thought that was China.

    Not according to google it isn't

    As said, that's not a good measure.  Chinese government has their own firewall which blocks whatever IPs they want.


  • @blakeyrat said:

    Australia, Land Of Internet Censorship, doesn't respect free speech rights? SHOCKER!!
    They have given the filter no money from the budget this year, because, apparently, nobody was interested in it. Which was what everyone has been trying to tell them.

    @blakeyrat said:

    And we have the classification and ratings system in place. The difference is, in the US, they are voluntary, and not a government function. MPAA motion picture ratings are enforced because theaters and retailers choose to enforce them, not because they are forced to by the government; all is well in the world.
    I did not know that. Learn something new everyday.

    @blakeyrat said:

    And to expand on above: there are novels that are far more violent than any video game, and here in the US, publishing companies have no rating system whatsoever. The "rating" of American Psycho is the same as the "rating" of The Hardy Boys. If you are concerned about protecting children, why not go after the media that has no rating system first? Why single out video games?
    I know some magazines have M and R ratings, however I think that's the size of it... you do raise an interesting point though, why aren't there ratings on literature apart from that of the pornographic variety?

    @blakeyrat said:

    But California's solution is wrong; stores already restrict the sale of games. They do not restrict the sale of games to the minor's guardian. That's current, voluntary, policy. Guess what? The CA law doesn't change that-- the lazy parent could still simply buy the game for the minor. So if that's the problem you're concerned about, you should be applauding this decision as well.
    So, the store can still voluntarily deny the sale to a minor, but the Government cannot force them to, correct? Because that's how I'm reading it now.

    @blakeyrat said:

    Fortunately, you're not on the Supreme Court.
    This in itself is a good thing as I'd probably make decisions which benefit me only.

    @blakeyrat said:

    Let me ask you this, does the Aussie government currently have any laws restricting the sale of violent novels? Then why the double fucking standard? Think about it.
    No, but does any country?



  • @Douglasac said:

    So, the store can still voluntarily deny the sale to a minor, but the Government cannot force them to, correct? Because that's how I'm reading it now.

    Yes, that's my understanding, as well.



  • @boomzilla said:

    Yes, that's my understanding, as well.
    Okay, ignore my first post, I thought they had put a complete ban on it. Blargh.



  • @Douglasac said:

    @blakeyrat said:
    And we have the classification and ratings system in place. The difference is, in the US, they are voluntary, and not a government function. MPAA motion picture ratings are enforced because theaters and retailers choose to enforce them, not because they are forced to by the government; all is well in the world.
    I did not know that. Learn something new everyday.

    So you didn't even know what the status quo is, and you got upset that the Supreme Court didn't change it? I found the WTF.

    @Douglasac said:

    @blakeyrat said:
    And to expand on above: there are novels that are far more violent than any video game, and here in the US, publishing companies have no rating system whatsoever. The "rating" of American Psycho is the same as the "rating" of The Hardy Boys. If you are concerned about protecting children, why not go after the media that has no rating system first? Why single out video games?
    I know some magazines have M and R ratings, however I think that's the size of it... you do raise an interesting point though, why aren't there ratings on literature apart from that of the pornographic variety?

    I was referring to novels, actually. Which have no rating system. Not even for pornographic novels. And there's nothing, either voluntary or Government-run, that prevents a kid from walking into a bookstore, buying, and reading American Psycho.

    All I'm saying is that if you're really trying to protect kids, instead of going on some crazy Don Quixote crusade against video games specifically, the legislation wouldn't pick out video games specifically. Hell, for that reason alone, I'm pretty sure California's law was unconstitutional.

    @Douglasac said:

    So, the store can still voluntarily deny the sale to a minor, but the Government cannot force them to, correct? Because that's how I'm reading it now.

    Incidentally, this is the exact same way movie ratings work... except the MPAA does a really shitty job of rating movies (Whale Rider rated PG-13? Bullshit. A more family-friendly movie has never been made.) And yet they escape the clutches of this law...

    @Douglasac said:

    @blakeyrat said:
    Let me ask you this, does the Aussie government currently have any laws restricting the sale of violent novels? Then why the double fucking standard? Think about it.
    No, but does any country?

    Good question. I dunno.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Incidentally, this is the exact same way movie ratings work... except the MPAA does a really shitty job of rating movies (Whale Rider rated PG-13? Bullshit. A more family-friendly movie has never been made.) And yet they escape the clutches of this law...

    I don't know anything about Whale Rider, but I gotta tell you...until you start watching stuff explicitly to decide whether you'd want your little kid watching it, you'd be amazed at how much stuff you miss.

    A great resource (which my wife found) is Common Sense Media. They give you an age rating, but also break it down as to why it's rated whatever it is. Here is their take on Whale Rider. Apparently, there's some language, plus some drinking, smoking and drugs. They say age 11. Sounds like PG stuff to me, though I'm not sure what the actual criteria are. And, to back up your evaluation, they say, "Excellent to watch and discuss as a family."



  • @boomzilla said:

    @blakeyrat said:
    Incidentally, this is the exact same way movie ratings work... except the MPAA does a really shitty job of rating movies (Whale Rider rated PG-13? Bullshit. A more family-friendly movie has never been made.) And yet they escape the clutches of this law...

    I don't know anything about Whale Rider, but I gotta tell you...until you start watching stuff explicitly to decide whether you'd want your little kid watching it, you'd be amazed at how much stuff you miss.

    A great resource (which my wife found) is Common Sense Media. They give you an age rating, but also break it down as to why it's rated whatever it is. Here is their take on Whale Rider. Apparently, there's some language, plus some drinking, smoking and drugs. They say age 11. Sounds like PG stuff to me, though I'm not sure what the actual criteria are. And, to back up your evaluation, they say, "Excellent to watch and discuss as a family."

    I could see PG, I still think that's a little strong. Characters in the movie drinking and smoking is no worse than your kid seeing people on the street of your city drinking and smoking, yes? I never got why that's a concern in movies.

    The "drug reference", and this is what the MPAA didn't like, is a hash pipe sitting on a coffee table far in the background of one scene. It's not picked up. Or used. It's just there. The fact that an object exists in the frame of the film counts as a "brief drug reference." Yeah, that's when you've lost all sanity, and fucked over some great film makers that wanted nothing more to inspire girls. Fuck that.

    Meanwhile, Passions of the Christ is rated R. So is Lost in Translation. Wait, Lost in Translation isn't PG? There's no language, there's a single scene where a fully-clothed stripper does a risque dance, and somehow that movie has the same rating as (what amounts to) torture porn? Figure that one out.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Meanwhile, Passions of the Christ is rated R. So is Lost in Translation. Wait, Lost in Translation isn't PG? There's no language, there's a single scene where a fully-clothed stripper does a risque dance, and somehow that movie has the same rating as (what amounts to) torture porn? Figure that one out.

    I'm not sure what your beef with The Passion of the Christ is, since it got the rating that means it is intended for mature audiences only.  Lost in Translation apparently starts with see through underwear, and has exposed breasts and g-strings in the stripper scene.  This in addition to SOME language, including the lyrics in the Tokyo bar.  Maybe you should go watch it again, as you may have missed those parts in favor of the good story?  I know that happened to me, because I rented American History X to watch with my family. >.>  Saying "anything that isn't as violent as some other movie shouldn't be rated R" doesn't make any sense.



  • @Sutherlands said:

    I'm not sure what your beef with The Passion of the Christ is, since it got the rating that means it is intended for mature audiences only.

    The movie is nothing but a guy getting graphically tortured for 2 hours. It barely even counts as a movie, and has exactly zero appeal or point unless you happen to subscribe to a certain belief system. Added to all this, the MPAA initially rated it NC-17 and then lowered the rating to R even though the movie wasn't re-edited. So if nothing else, the Passions example shows how corrupt the MPAA raters are.

    @Sutherlands said:

    Lost in Translation apparently starts with see through underwear, and has exposed breasts and g-strings in the stripper scene.  This in addition to SOME language, including the lyrics in the Tokyo bar.  Maybe you should go watch it again, as you may have missed those parts in favor of the good story?  I know that happened to me, because I rented American History X to watch with my family.

    Maybe.

    @Sutherlands said:

    Saying "anything that isn't as violent as some other movie shouldn't be rated R" doesn't make any sense.

    It's more like saying, "The 'R' rating covers an incredibly huge range of movies, because the MPAA is too cowardly to give out NC-17s when they're deserved."

    But the real problem, now that I think about it, is that the rating system is supposed to rate content but movie goers use it as a shorthand for "what age group is this aimed at?" If they see an 'R' rating, they know the movie is aimed for an adult audience even if the content is non-objectionable. Similarly, Lost in Translation probably would have sold a lot fewer tickets if it had a PG-13 because movie goers would assume it's aimed towards a younger audience (which is what happened with Galaxy Quest, when they re-edited it to lower its rating.)

    So really their system has some fundamental flaws in it. And that criticism seems to also apply to video games, which might explain why Halo 2 got an M rating, when it really doesn't warrant one. (Well, maaaybe.)



  • Or, let’s look at it from the other side of the lens. If you were in China, a country without free speech, the government would be spying on everything you write online and this post of yours could have landed you in prison, for simply wanting to voice your opinion.



  • @Sutherlands said:

    I'm not sure what your beef with The Passion of the Christ is, since it got the rating that means it is intended for mature audiences only. 

    I thought it was intended for Christians.

    Personally, when I am assessing the suitability of a film for children, I look at the message they are likely to take away from it. The formal ratings seem to correlate very poorly with my own sense of what's right for kids.

    There are plenty of films that don't use obscenities, or show any drugs, etc. but which nevertheless remain subversive tripe. Pretty much anything on the Nickelodeon and ABC Family networks (in North America) falls into this category.

    On the other hand, films like "The King's Speech," " The Right Stuff," "Personal Best," and "The Shawshank Redemption" are rated for mature audiences because they show honest portrayals of adult life.

    I would much rather my children (were they not grown) see films in the latter category than films in the former, but I am no way aided in this quest by the ratings systems.



  • @bridget99 said:

    There are plenty of films that don't use obscenities, or show any drugs, etc. but which nevertheless remain subversive tripe. Pretty much anything on the Nickelodeon and ABC Family networks (in North America) falls into this category.

    One day I was looking over my nephew's shoulder while he was watching Cartoon Network, it was a show called Robotboy. On the screen was the host horribly offensive racist stereotype in the form of Dr. Kamikazi I've seen in anything made since the 1950s. It's basically every offensive WWII Japanese stereotype rolled into one character.

    I was shocked that they were broadcasting this. It is a French/British co-production so maybe those Japanese stereotypes aren't quite as objectionable there, but Cartoon Network was broadcasting this in the US, during the time when kids are watching (not part of their adult block).

    But, hey! Nothing in the ratings system about racism! Racial slurs, yes. Racism without using slurs? FINE AND DANDY!

    Anyway, show your kids Whale Rider, even if they're 30. It's a great film, everybody should see it.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Seriously?

    @bridget99 said:

    The US Supreme Court today ruled 7-2 that the sale of video games to minors constitutes protected (i.e. "free") speech. This strikes down a California law that banned the sale of certain computer games to minors.

    In what way are video games not speech? It's been long established that the First Amendment applies to all forms of speech.

    @bridget99 said:

    It had never occurred to me that the authors of the Bill of Rights intended their "freedom of speech" to extend to the corruption of the children of others.

    If you've read the position, you'll know of course that the majority judges considered that point, and agreed that the "corruption of children" was entirely unproven. Studies showing otherwise either mixed up correlation and causation, or had flawed methodology, or both.

    So, do you know of a study that proves a causal link between violent video games and violence in kids?

    Note that the decision also contains a long history of other forms of media that were once considered harmful to kids, and points out (rightly) that even though they weren't banned, crimes rates in the US have never been lower. (On the contrary, some analysts theorize access to affordable violent video games is a factor in *why* the crime rates are so low right now. Not well-proven, though.)

    @bridget99 said:

    In fact, I would have thought that the "Common Law" foundations of the system would have long ago made a distinction between the discourse of consenting adults, and the broad category of things that one ought not say to children (especially to strange children, or children in general).

    I will hand you this: it's hypocritical of the Court to decide in this case that minors are in the same "class" as adults, and as deserving of First Amendment rights, but then in other decisions determine that school officials have the right to punish minors for activities committed off-campus. (Meaning, the infamous "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case.)

    So while I applaud this decision, I wish the Court would endeavor to be more consistent in their rulings.

    @bridget99 said:

    If I decide to approach the minor family members of, say, Antonin Scalia, and start singing the praises of necrophilia, bestiality, etc., am I to supposed to believe that this constitutes protected speech?

    If you were convicted, it would be of harassment, not for using prohibited speech. Thankfully, we don't have such a thing as "prohibited speech" in the US, and this ruling helps keep it that way.

    @bridget99 said:

    So-called "fighting words" have already been removed from the realm of protected speech by the Court.

    Cite? Which case are you referring to?

    @bridget99 said:

    2) if I say something that provokes some knuckle-dragging American to violence, that's not protected speech.

    Intent is a factor. As always.

    Do you believe the makers of violent video games intend children to become violent criminals? (Obviously not; video games have the best rating system available in any media right now. And most, if not all, retailers will fire employees who sell M-rated video games to minors.)

    Here's another puzzler: you know the book American Psycho? The book that's far more disturbing and violent than any video game I've ever played? Did you know there's absolutely nothing in-place right now to prevent an 8-year-old kid from purchasing and reading it? Nothing at all? Why does literature get a pass, but video games must be banned? If you're going to support censorship, at least:
    1) Support it consistently
    2) Fix the more flagrant holes before moving on to the small ones

    @bridget99 said:

    Even if I'm wrong about the law here, what does that say about the US Constitution? I would say that this document is ambiguous, anachronistic, and (now) amoral. I suppose that many of us already knew these things; there is a strong climate of denial surrounding them, though.

    The Constitution is supposed to be a living document, meaning that as it becomes out-of-date, it also provides guidelines on how to update itself. In the current political climate, however, that's simply not going to happen, especially to anything in the Bill of Rights. Tough, but there you go. (The gun debate could be solved in a single swoop by clarifying the language of the Second Amendment. I can practically guarantee that won't happen in my lifetime.)

    The Constitution is supposed to be ambiguous, to an extent. It's also supposed to be amoral, to an extent.

    ++++++++++This.  But one correction about the minor speech issue.  Video games are not the speech of the players.  They are the speech of the devs.


  • @blakeyrat said:

    Here's another puzzler: you know the book American Psycho? The book that's far more disturbing and violent than any video game I've ever played? Did you know there's absolutely nothing in-place right now to prevent an 8-year-old kid from purchasing and reading it? Nothing at all?

    Actually, I decided to look it up and surprisingly enough, [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Classification_Board#Literature_ratings]Australia does have some kind of literature rating system[/url] and [url=http://www.classification.gov.au/www/cob/find.nsf/d853f429dd038ae1ca25759b0003557c/2023ef4569c5697eca2576710078a49f?OpenDocument]American Psycho[/url] has "Not available to persons under 18 years" rating.

    Personally I don't support any other than "suggested" rating system. Face it, these days kids can get whatever game/movie/book they were denied of playing/watching/reading by some random guy/corporation by simply downloading it from the internet. And they will get used to the fact that it's the easier way anyway, so even after they hit 18, they will simply continue doing it (until those said corporations discover a way that's easier and manage to market it to that person, like Steam).



  • @Buzer said:

    Actually, I decided to look it up and surprisingly enough, Australia does have some kind of literature rating system and American Psycho has "Not available to persons under 18 years" rating.

    Hum. I guess I was wrong about that one, hah.

    @Buzer said:

    Personally I don't support any other than "suggested" rating system. Face it, these days kids can get whatever game/movie/book they were denied of playing/watching/reading by some random guy/corporation by simply downloading it from the internet. And they will get used to the fact that it's the easier way anyway, so even after they hit 18, they will simply continue doing it (until those said corporations discover a way that's easier and manage to market it to that person, like Steam).

    The real problem is no matter how air-tight the ratings system is, kids still get a hold of the "bad" games because bad parents buy it for them. I've never worked games retail, but I know a lot of people who have, and they've told the story over and over again how some kid will bring a violent game like Modern Warfare 2 to their parents to buy, the clerk will try to explain to the parent the content of the game, and the parent will ignore them and buy it anyway. Once one kid has it, all the kids that come over to his house to play games also have it. So.


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