What would James Madison think about the Supreme Court’s latest decision?
By Tom Quiner
Today, we have a special guest at Quiner’s Diner, the fourth President of the United States, Mr. James Madison.
Sir, it is an honor to have the “Father of the U.S. Constitution” on our humble blogspot (a blog spot is what you would’ve published The Federalist Papers on had it been available in the 18th century.)
“It is a pleasure to be with you today, Mr. Quiner. Something big must be on your mind for you to go to so much effort to summon me from my eternal resting place. Tell, what is bothering you?”
It’s the Supreme Court, Mr. President. They just decided a free-speech case that just doesn’t sit right with me. You are the author of the Bill of Rights, you wrote the first amendment. Who better to help me see the way?
“Yes, I’m quite proud of the first amendment, which goes something like this: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Tell me about the case the Supreme Court recently decided.”
The decision is called Brown v Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA). A member of the EMA created a game for children that the state of California considered to be dangerous to the emotional health of children, so they banned the game.
“So California finally became a state!”
Yes Sir, about fourteen years after you died.
“So what did the Supreme Court have to say about this game?”
Here’s what Judge Antonin Scalia …
[MADISON: “So we have an Italian on the Supreme Court. Amazing!”]
… had to say about the case:
“Like the protected books, plays and movies that preceded them, video games communicate ideas — and even social messages — through many familiar literary devices (such as characters, dialogue, plot and music) and through features distinctive to the medium (such as the player’s interaction with the virtual world). That suffices to confer First Amendment protection. Depictions of violence, have never been subject to government regulation. Grimm’s Fairy Tales, for example, are grim indeed.”
Are you familiar with the Grimm Fairy Tales?
“Ahh, yes, my family loved the Brother Grimm’s wonderful stories, especially Snow White, Hansel and Greta, and Cinderella. It’s true they could be gory, but that would be no reason to ban them. I’m sorry, Mr. Quiner, but I think you’re being too sensitive. Free speech is free speech.”
Mr. President, please, give me another minute. May I describe the “game” to you at issue in this case?
“Please continue, Sir.”
Thank-you. You see, Mr. Madison, this is a game the likes of which you’ve never seen. It uses modern technology that allows the user to view live action on a screen. Human characters are animated, they move, and can be manipulated by the game’s participants.
“Wonderful! What a great teaching tool this could be. I can only imagine how the human race can benefit from this technology! But clearly something is amiss. Tell me more.”
The attorneys representing Brown, who is the Governor of California, described the game this way before the court. The game “invited players to …
“• burn people alive with gasoline or napalm;
• decapitate people with shovels and have dogs fetch their severed heads;
• beat police to death while they beg for mercy;
• kill bald, unshaven men wearing pink dresses (in an ‘expansion pack’ called “Fag Hunter”);
• slaughter nude female zombies;
• urinate on people to make them vomit;
• and shoot players with a shotgun that has been silenced by ramming it into a cat’s anus.”
This is what the State of California wanted to ban and keep away from children. This is the game that the Supreme Court, in a 7 to 2 majority opinion, said is entitled to free speech protection and cannot be banned from being sold to children.
In essence, Mr. President, today’s Supreme Court said your first amendment protects the rights of makers of this game to sell this product to our children, your posterity.
Are these the “blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity” to which you referred in the preamble of the Constitution of the United States of America?
“Mr. Quiner, may I ask what has become of this nation? What you have described is pure filth. The content of this so-called game is not fit for any man, woman, or beast, much less a child. How could this even be an issue of free speech? Has this nation sunk that low?”
I can only share the majority opinion of the Supreme Court which says that the state…
“… relies on research psychologists whose studies purport to show a connection between exposure to violent video games and harmful effects on children. These studies have been rejected by every court to consider them, and with good reason: They do not prove that violent video games cause minors to act aggressively (which would at least be a beginning).”
“Good God Almighty, Mr. Quiner. Any moron can see that filthy entertainment is going to have a corrupting influence on the soul of any human being. Furthermore, when I drafted the first amendment, I never intended for it to allow merchants to sell smut like this directly to children. Frankly, it never dawned on me that any rational human being would even be having this conversation. Go tell that Italian judge of yours, what was his name …”
“… yes Scalia to get his [expletive] back to church fast. This nonsense has to stop. Now why would you have to go and disturb my eternal rest with this sordid case? It’s going to take Dolly another hundred years to calm me down!”