I know this may seem a little late, but the Supreme Court ruling from this past June on violent video games has been irking me as of late. In the ruling, the Supreme Court upheld the First Amendment and said that California could NOT limit the sale of violent video games to children under 18. Now this ruling in itself doesn’t bother me. In fact, I am quite surprised and quite happy to see Justice Scalia, who I usually don’t have much respect for, stand up for First Amendment rights, a right that I hold to be of the utmost importance.
What has been bothering me, however, is a comment he made that was meant to support his decision. Scalia said that unlike sexual conduct, violence has not been traditionally something that this country has restricted a child’s access to. Scalia’s argument here seems entirely backwards. First of all, who is to say that tradition is what makes something constitutional or not? There have been many very obvious examples in this country’s history where tradition was far out of line with what is right. (Need I even mention things like slavery or separate but equal)? Aside from that point, what makes violence more acceptable for children than sex? It is strange to me that in this country we allow children to be exposed to the most extreme violence in film and video games, however, seeing a man and a woman engaged in healthy, consensual sexual relations is out of the question and not in line with “tradition.” After all, why would we want to teach children the value of love between two consensual partners when we can give them a game where they are allowed to steal cars, call hookers into their car, and then later beat them up in the street for their money?
Perhaps, then, there can be some balance in the things that children are exposed to. Maybe, instead of young boys being brought up to think that sex means calling a hooker into your car and then later beating her, boys can also be taught to see women as equals, and taught to see sex as something consensual. Maybe instead of just exposing them to images of violence, and to sexual acts that are dirty and violent, perhaps sex can be portrayed to children in a way that is natural and beautiful. After all, if we feel that these kids are old enough to handle violence content, why are they not old enough to handle sexual content? I guess this is just a pipe dream of mine, however, since it just isn’t “traditional” to allow children to see what can be good about humanity, but only what is terrible about it.