Those who like to rock their world with violent video games have reason to celebrate now that a federal appeals court has ruled that graphic games fall under the free speech protection of the Bill of Rights.
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Missouri says a county ordinance banning the sale or rental of graphically violent video games to people under 17 is unconstitutional.
‘Grand Theft Auto Vice City’ sizzles with violence (Rockstar Games)
According to United Press International, the statute in St. Louis County restricted distribution of games like Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat and Wolfenstein to minors.
“If the First Amendment is versatile enough to ‘shield painting of Jackson Pollock, music of Arnold Schoenberg or “Jabberwocky” verse of Lewis Carroll’ we see no reason why the pictures, graphic design, concept art, sounds, music, stories and narrative present in a video game are not entitled to similar protection,” the three-judge panel wrote in explaining its decision.
“The mere fact that they appear in a novel medium is of no legal consequence. Our review of the record convinces us that these ‘violent’ games contain stories, imagery, ‘age-old themes of literature,’ and messages, even an ‘ideology,’ just as books and movies do,” the ruling said.
Missouri Lawyers Weekly reports that in the opinion, the judges said St. Louis County’s conclusion that “there is a strong likelihood that minors who play violent video games will suffer a deleterious effect on their psychological health is simply unsupported in the record.” And while the government had a role in supporting parents, “the government cannot silence protected speech by wrapping itself in the cloak of parental authority.”
This week’s ruling could have an impact on efforts in Congress to limit the sale of violent video games, reports Advertising Age.