Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Supreme Court Vs. California's Parents

Every description is worse than the last.  You can shoot people.  You can torture them.  You can tie them up, hack their heads off, wear their skins and defile a nun.  Like music, comic books and the Internet, "violent" video games have been under the attack for the negative effect, as vague as it is, that they have on our children.  Columbine is dragged out (though if anyone took the time to read the FBI's report on that incident you would see how little effect violent video games had on that) time and time again.  The GTA series and Call of Duty are dragged through the mud.  Every argument is some variation on the same: These games are destroying our children.  No real evidence is given.  None is needed.  When children are at stake it is good enough to just make claims ... or so the general line of thinking has gone.

Until now.

The Supreme Court has ruled that California, my home state -- the one that can't balance a budget without yanking away funding to schools and poor kids -- can't regulate the sales of violent video games to minors.  It has recognized that children's parents should be the gatekeepers and not a government that seems to only care about children when it is convenient.  Kudos, Supreme Court, you did right.

It should have never gone this far.  Really.  It should not have been an issue.  Violent video games exist, just like violent movies and violent books.  They are not every game or even a majority of the games (depending on your definition of violence).  In fact, it seems like the production of "questionable" games has been on the decline.  Since these things exist, it is up to the parents to monitor what their kids are playing and, more importantly, actually communicate with their children about them.  I know it is a strange, New Age idea to actually talk to one's children and treat them like individuals capable of making good and bad decisions (a process learned from their parents), but as a parent it is your job to do just that.  I'm a parent.  I talk to my child about everything.  I discuss the pros and cons, and I don't shy away from discussions about violent video games.  Again: It's my job.

Parents are very happy to give up powers to the state.  The less thinking that goes into raising their kids, the better.  Not all parents, but enough that this fight had to go to the Supreme Court.  And now the decision has been handed down.  A decision that is well-reasoned and filled with common sense (two things lacking in many parents I know).  The parents who will feel slighted (and they are legion) will throw up their hands and cry, "What about the children?"  Well, what about them, parents?  Now that the responsibility is in your court, what will you do?  Will you ignore the problem, or will you have an actual conversation with your child?  One that compares reality to fiction, the horrors of war, anti-social behavior and sexual stereotypes?  Or will you go back to asking legislators to do your job?  The same legislators you don't trust to do anything else.  Keep that in mind.  In the end, your kids can see through your hypocrisy.  Let's just hope they make better decisions than you ... despite your parenting.

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