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Judge Throws Out Michigan Violent Games Law 90

kukyfrope writes "The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) gained another victory today as Judge George Caram Steeh struck down the Michigan law previously attempting to ban the sale of certain games to minors, ruling the law unconstitutional. Judge Steeh is pushing for evidence showing the link between playing violent video games and actual acts of violence committed by players."
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Judge Throws Out Michigan Violent Games Law

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  • Splendiferous (Score:5, Insightful)

    by voice_of_all_reason ( 926702 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @09:35AM (#15057209)
    Here's to more "activist judges" like this guy.

    Though it's a shame when a judge pointing out that that the government has just passed an illegal law is declared a "victory."
    • by BoomerSooner ( 308737 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @09:45AM (#15057302) Homepage Journal
      I've got the link and it's indisputable. I played Ultima III on the Apple //e. I ran over a rabbit on the highway in rural New Mexico on accident during Spring Break.

      Ultima III kills rabbits. What's next? We must protect our children (our meaning our children collectively) from deviant game players! Who knows if I ever get time to finish Ultima V someone may die somewhere.

      Stop the senseless killing, ban video games outright. Oh and ban sex to since that creates killers. 100% of people that murder were created by sex, this link is irrefutable.

      Thank you for your time. Have courage, we will make this land great once again.
      • I once ran over a rabbit... and it was only my *friend* who played Ultima III, on an Apple ][+. That's how harmful videogames, and RPGs in particular, can be.
      • I remember Ultima III (on the Atari 800, IIRC, in my case), and if that taught me violence, tile floors, treasure chests and tall grass would be toast.
    • Re:Splendiferous (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Doomstalk ( 629173 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @09:47AM (#15057326)
      It's not so much activism, as realizing the slippery slope that censorship like this creates. As soon as you declare one medium as exempt from free speech protection, it becomes that much easier to extend the restriction to others.
      • "activist judges" was probably meant to be sarcastic, since (s)he used the quotes. It was interpreted by me to mean judges are only "activist" when they don't agree with your POV. For example, the SCOTUS has already said abortion is legal. To change it you would need activist judges. No one in the current administration seems to have problems with THOSE activist judges. Hell they might as well be sponsored so we know whom to support with our money. Scalia sponsored by Exxon/Mobil, brining you environmental
    • Judicial review has been an integral part of our system since Marbury v. Madison in 1803. "Judicial activism" is just a term used by conservatives when a ruling doesn't go their way.
  • It's called BEING A PSYCHOPATH.

    Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING. :(
  • by TripMaster Monkey ( 862126 ) * on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @09:39AM (#15057244)

    From TFA:
    [Douglas Lowenstein, President of the ESA, said:] "It is noteworthy that Judge Steeh specifically chastised the state for not doing what we urged them to do from the start, which is to find less restrictive ways to help ensure that parents make sound choices about the games their kids play."
    Parents: we're not going to do your parenting for you. Take some responsibility.
    Hats off to Judge Steeh.
    • I don't get it. Every time a law like this rears its head Slashdot goes nuts. Why shouldn't the sale of violent games to minors be restricted? It needs a combination of responsible parenting and responsible selling to prevent minors playing unsuitable games.

      Parents can't and shouldn't be watching what their kids are doing 24 hours a day so it's up to the retailers to ensure that they're not selling GTA to 10 year olds and the parents to make sure that their kids aren't playing GTA.
      • by LordEd ( 840443 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @10:30AM (#15057745)
        How do 10 year olds get to the mall? Where do they get the money?

        Sounds like 2 parent intervention points to me.
        • How do you not see the sames your kids are playing? As a parent it's your job to watch what your kid does in your house. No you cannot and do not want to be the all invasive 24-hour hovering parent, but you need to have basic awareness of what is going on. If a kid is able to hide a TV, videogame console, and games from you, you are doing a poor job.

          Game systems should be in public areas of the house where you are likely to spend your time. That way you can keep an eye on what your kids are playing.

          Here's a
        • I'm not saying that parents should shirk the responsibility of checking what their child is doing - far from it. I'm just suggesting that having the shops refuse to sell violent games to minors (or at least inform the parents that the game is violent if it's the parent making the purchase) would be a good thing.

          Anyone who is coming out with comments along the lines of "In a free society we shouldn't have to do this" needs to get their heads out of their asses. The reality of the situation is that there ar
      • by Tenareth ( 17013 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @10:30AM (#15057753) Homepage
        Most of these kids just asked their parents to buy the game, and since the parents don't spend 30 seconds finding out what the game is about, they buy it and are shocked when 3 weeks later they find out he's ripping some guys head off in the game.

      • I don't get it. Every time a law like this rears its head Slashdot goes nuts. Why shouldn't the sale of violent games to minors be restricted?

        Because, in any truly free society, the burden is on you to prove that the sale of violent games to minors is detrimental. It is not my responsibility to prove the contrary.

        Actually the bar is even higher than this! Not only must it be proven detrimental, but you also have to prove that it's the governments role to legislate it. A much harder task IMO.

      • Very good points.

        The judgement not only goes against common sense, it is contradicted by the latest scientific research:

        From http://www.sci-tech-today.com/story.xhtml?story_id =0100000094LG [sci-tech-today.com] :

        Watching too much violent TV and playing too many violent video games takes a toll on children's social and physical development, researchers report.
        "We found that the more TV they watch, the less time they spend with their friends," says researcher David S. Bickham, a research scientist at the Center on Media and Chil
  • by Lord Bitman ( 95493 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @09:56AM (#15057413) Homepage
    Of course there is a "Link", of course there is a "Relationship". Those are statistical terms. There is a link between having too much money and having an Apple product. Do rounded self-contained white computers cause people to have too much money? (or, to play this role more adequetly) Do they cause people who already have just enough money to enjoy such things to get even more money?

    I'll admit to liking shiny expensive things, but I find that indulging in that desire leaves me with less money, not more.


    Though in this case "Money" would translate to "ability to be aggressive", not "desire to be aggressive". There are certainly two factors involved in the "I wish I could afford one of those big-ass monitors" example. And of course it's "desire" not "ability" which any sensible law would be attempting to prevent. The question is: would I be more desirous of bigger, flatter, more-roundeder monitors if I had the seed which I could technically afford? And, more to the point: would it then make me want to try OSX? ( person who likes squishing bugs -> person who likes making pictures of exploding cars appear on a screen -> [magicar transforumu] -> person who likes raping babies and putting bloody nun-heads on the dashboards of the innocent )

    Of course, would I really even want a big rounded monitor if I didnt, deep down, already want to try OSX? And this doesnt take into account that I already use bash, and the possibility of between the time of purchasing a big rounded flat monitor and trying OSX ( that is, decapitating nuns ), I may have met an intriguing and mysterious Mac-using guillotine aficionado (who doesnt even like big monitors).

    Some guy once said "Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics." I'm pretty sure he would have liked San Andreas, too.


    The point is: "Inside Man" sucks. If you want to do random out-of-place commentary, but can't find an example in a real game which is "extreme" enough to get the point accross, then maybe you should adjust your shallow world-view instead of making up one and then pointing to it to say "They're just like that! and isnt that horrible!?"

    in conclusion:
    I was gonna be first-post when I started typing this. I assume not at this point.
    • At the risk of being redundant (for both your comment and the many stories about this trend), your arguement can be concised to "Correlation does not imply causality."

      In other words, it's equally as valid to say that there is another explanation that causes both playing violent video games AND committing violent actions as the idea that one causes the other.
      • Yeah, but like I said, when I started writing it I was the first one here :)
        Though it should be mentioned that fuck you for not actually reading more than the first sentence of the post, jackhole. Want to comment? You get a free read the whole thing first.

        Yeah, It's admittedly rambling, goes around all over the place and gets nowhere. I can understand not reading it. You know what you get to do if you havent read something? You get to not respond to it! Just like I didnt respond to any of your posts, becaus
  • so its like all the other people are also punished for someone going insane...
  • ...inevitability.

    Seriously, games are a new entertainment medium, and as history has told us, all new mediums are resisted by the older generations and are gradually accepted overtime.

    I'm glad to see that this is happening sooner rather than later. Good news on /. for a change...who'd have thought?
  • An ambitious politician (we'll just call him... Mr. X) is looking to gain some bi-partisan appeal. Mr. X becomes aware of the Hot Coffee issue and it's run off, and decides to push forward a law banning the sale of M rated video games to minors. The bill isn't all that well writen, but that's not the point.

    Mr. X has several others sign on to his planned bill, including folks from the othr side of the political spectrum. The bill gains huge support from both sides of Mr. X's legislative body.

    The bill
    • Losses
      Public perception of the promoter of the bad law likely improves.
      Public perception of the judiciary likely falls.
      Someone has to take significant risk to ensure the government behaves properly.

      The bad law is gone.
      It is possible the promoter of the bad law might look stupid.
      People are reminded there are some people in positions of authority who understand and believe in the constitution/laws of the country.
  • This is a very easy problem to study. If there are over 6 million players world wide who play World of Warcraft, someone could easily look at crime statistics and make a proper link.

    1. Have hate crimes against Taurens risen since WoW was launched?
    2. Has there been a rise in reported cases of grand theft ninja?
    3. Are more Gnomes getting college degrees and taking jobs at NASA, or are they still building explosives and arcanite dragons?

    You could go even deeper than this, and I think that you'll find t
    • You could go even deeper than this, and I think that you'll find that video games don't contribute to the problem.

      I don't think it's that simple. Video games don't cause people to become violent. However, it could probably be demonstrated that they are influential in violent behavior, probably moreso than music or video due to the interactive nature. You're not just watching violence, you're practicing it.

      For the vast majority of players, that has no bearing on their actions. For a select few, though, it co
    • And STILL no one takes my Gnome Warrior seriously.

  • Judge Throws Out Michigan Violent Games Law >> Judge pumps a cap in ass of Michigan Violent Games Law
  • Thank God this shit isn't happening in Canada :)
  • by Dausha ( 546002 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @12:25PM (#15058890) Homepage
    It appears the state saw the video game law as an answer to obscenity in gaming. The S.Ct. allows government censorship of obscenity provided the government can show a rational relation between what they have done and what legitimate state purpose they are hoping to serve. This is considered the lowest threshhold for the Government to justify the Constitutionality of one of its acts. It is by this same rational basis that allows state, local, and Federal governments to seize land from one property owner and give to another if they believe it is better economically, thus turning a property right into an economic right.

    What the judge has basically said here is the State has failed to meet even the lowest standard to prove Consitutionality.

    This is a Federal Court judge applying established Supreme Court jurisprudence to what is categorically an obscenity issue. I see no judicial activism here.

    Judicial activism occurs when a judge renders a decision clearly at odds with otherwise valid laws or established precedent that is itself founded on sound jurisprudence. Since the First Amendment grants Free Speech, but the government still has an interest in not allowing people to yell "Fire" in a crowded theater, the Court has categorized speech that may be restricted uncer certain criteria. Obscenity is one such category, and it is given the low threshhold because it is argueably not the meaning of the First Amendment.

    Conversely, if this were completely political speech, the Government should have a near impossible chance to silence it. So, this judge is acting completely within the framework offered by the Court, and is not bucking precedent. Therefore, he is not an activist.

    What we have hear is a Legislature that is clearly wrong on this one. I would love to see the breakdown of votes by party as the web site suggests a nearly equal footing by both parties.
    • Although, I should point out that the Supreme Court has said in the past (by upholding campaign finance restrictions) that corporations may not have First Amendment rights. A corporation is not "the People" for whom the Constitution protects in this context, IMO.
    • This is a Federal Court judge applying established Supreme Court jurisprudence to what is categorically an obscenity issue. I see no judicial activism here.

      I would be curious as to why you think that obscenity caselaw was used, when the definition of obscenity requires that sex be involved, and this law is about violence.
      • You make a good point. I should have been more clear as to my logic--which is typically murky.

        I used obscene in the older meaning, which was to mean something abhorrent. I neglected the sexual use because at least obscenity does not carry an immediacy element. Obscentity can also mean speech deemed to be against community standards. This might include using swear words at a circus with lots of young children around, but would not include the same words used at a bar.

        However, I believe the same test is appli
        • Obscentity can also mean speech deemed to be against community standards.

          No. In a legal sense, obscenity has a very specific meaning. In order for speech to be obscene, it must:

          1) When taken as a whole, applying community standards, appears to appeal to prurient interests;
          2) Depict or describe in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct; and
          3) When taken as a whole, lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

          That 'and' is important, as all three conditions have to be met.

          This might incl
  • I'm personally ambivalent on the idea of whether violent games should be sold to minors or not--yes, parents should be responsible for checking out what their kids play, but there are also many ways for children to get the games without parents' money or presence--but this brings up a point of comparison for me.

    Movies, like games, are rated according to their content and whether or not it is appropriate for different age groups. Some movies kids can see on their own, some only with a parent present who has
  • From the article:
    Judge Steeh is pushing for evidence showing the link between playing violent video games and actual acts of violence committed by players.

    I am expecting that the next wave of laws that target games will be bundled with such "evidence" from "experts"...

BLISS is ignorance.