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Parents' Rights Take Stage In Debate Over Violent Video Games Parents' Rights Take Stage In Debate Over Violent Video Games

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Congress / TECHNOLOGY

Parents' Rights Take Stage In Debate Over Violent Video Games

The popular and controversial video game "Grand Theft Auto" celebrates criminal activity, awarding players points for crimes ranging from selling drugs to stealing cars to murder.(Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

June 27, 2011

The Supreme Court's decision on Monday to strike down California's ban on selling violent video games to children didn't go over well with groups that say the law would have given parents more control.

"An overwhelmingly high percentage of parents would support a bill that would prevent their kids from walking into a store and buying the most ultra-violent and sexually violent of video games," said Common Sense Media CEO James Steyer. "That decision should be in the hands of parents, not kids or video game vendors, and certainly not the video game ratings board."

Rep. Joe Baca, D-Calif., agreed. He has sponsored legislation that would require video games to feature warning labels similar to those on tobacco products.

"While I am not surprised by the Supreme Court's decision to overturn California's ban on the sale of violent video games to children, I am disappointed the multi-billion dollar video game industry will continue to go unchecked in its ability to profit from selling heinous depictions of violence and sex to minors," Baca said.

But civil liberties advocates said it comes down to First Amendment rights. The Supreme Court is fact allowed parents, rather than the government, to be responsible for what their children see, said Adam Thierer, senior research fellow at George Mason University's Mercatus Center.

"Violently-themed media is as old as literature itself, the Court noted today," he wrote in a blog post. "As has been the case with previous forms of violent content, parental responsibility is the better way to regulate access to potentially objectionable media."

Baca and Steyer, however, warned that the fight isn't over. "Today, the multi-billion dollar video game industry is celebrating the fact that their profits have been protected, but we will continue to fight for the best interests of kids and families," Steyer said.

For more on Monday's ruling, visit our Tech page.

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