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Issue Date: Vol. 50, No. 11, November 2010, Posted On: 11/2/2010

USA Today Supports First Amendment For Videogames

Marcus Webb
Amusement and Music Operators Association, amicus curae, California Assembly Bill 1179, AB 1197, chwarzenegger vs. Entertainment Merchants Association & Entertainment Software Association, video game violence, violent video games, violent video game ban, Leland Yee, First Amendment rights, arcade video game, coin-op video game

MACLEAN, VA -- USA Today, one of America’s top three national newspapers, has endorsed First Amendment protection for videogames in a case being heard Nov. 2 before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The pro-free speech message -- headlined “Zap California's videogame law" -- was the lead editorial in the paper’s Friday, Oct. 29 edition. Read the full story.

The newspaper joins the Amusement and Music Operators Association in opposing the controversial legislation proposed by California's AB 1179. If upheld by the high court, the bill would make it a criminal offense to sell or rent so-called “violent” videogames to consumers under 18.

California’s federal district court and the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court both found AB 1179 to be unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds.

USA Today’s editorial board conceded, “You can't blame parents for wanting to shield their children from ... [explicit] games.” Nevertheless, the newspaper went on to state: “But the legal question ... is whether government ... has a role in deciding which games ought to be banned. We think not.”

USA Today said scientific evidence is “slim to nonexistent” that playing videogames is harmful to children. The paper also said parents, not government, should supervise children’s media habits.

However, the editorial’s strongest emphasis was on preserving Constitutional rights to free expression without any government censorship or supervision.

Besides AMOA, opposition to California's proposed law includes the attorneys general from 10 U.S. states and territories, 180 organizations that support free speech, and computer and media industries, among many interests. [see story]

The case at issue is Schwarzenegger vs. Entertainment Merchants Association & Entertainment Software Association.

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