Denver, Colo., Jul 2, 2011 / 12:33 pm
Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput says a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on video game violence is “wrong,” and will contribute to “poisoning our future.”
In a July 1 column for First Things, Archbishop Chaput wrote that the court's June 27 ruling “extends and elevates the individual’s right to free expression – or in this case, a corporation’s right to make a healthy profit - at the expense of family sovereignty, the natural rights of parents and the intent of the Constitution’s authors.”
The decision in the case of “Brown vs. EMA” struck down a California law that banned minors from buying or renting violent video games.
Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, said violent video games deserve First Amendment protection just like books, plays and movies. He wrote that video games should not be included in categories of expression that are excluded from First Amendment protection – namely, obscenity, incitement and fighting words.
But Archbishop Chaput said the ruling overlooked the government's duty to protect human dignity and the common good. “A law which respects mothers and fathers trying to make good choices for their family does just that,” he wrote.
Archbishop Chaput clarified that he does not believe video games are “bad.” But to allow minors access to violent video games without parental consent, he said, violates natural law and parents' rights.
Justices Ginsburg, Kagan, Kennedy and Sotamayor joined Scalia in finding California's law unconstitutional. Justice Alito and Chief Justice Roberts supported the majority opinion, but argued in a differing opinion that violent video games may cause significant social problems because they have a different impact on youth than radio, television or literature.
Archbishop Chaput acknowledged that the court's affirmation of what lawmakers can and cannot ban is important, in light of some religious teaching being labeled hate speech because of the recent push for gay “marriage.”