Well, a federal appeals court has just declared that a California law that tried to limit the sale of violent video games to minors is unconstitutional, violating the First Amendment and the 14th Amendment. Check out the story right here. And my reaction to this is...YESSSSS!!!
Good riddance to yet another bad law based on nonexistent evidence to prove any sort of a causal relationship between media content and behavior.
And yes, in case my big fans in the Parents Television Council are reading this blog, I am indeed grinning very broadly right now, barely able to resist jumping up and down for joy.
Rulings like this are victories for common sense and reason. These are things severely lacking today. You see, we seem to be living in a world where such things as evidence and proof are no longer requirements for many people to make up their minds about issues. A couple of weeks ago, my radio show, WSPC Culture Wars, aired a debate with the head of the New Jersey chapter of the PTC, where that organization's policies on rational, scientific proof were very clearly demonstrated. Not only does the PTC not really care about whether or not their ridiculous assertions about media violence can be scientifically proven, but they wouldn't be able to recognize scientific data if it very aggressively hit them over the head.
A couple of examples: Their web page is filled with "studies" on the amount of violent and offensive behavior in the broadcast media. These are, technically, content analyses, or literally the count of exactly how many times punches are thrown or shots fired or curse words uttered in any given episode of a TV show. That's all nice and good, except that such a study does not prove a causal link. If you're ever taking a statistics or research methods class and you feel like getting and "F" just to make life more exciting, tell your teacher that a content analysis study is a proof of causality. Your "F" will be assured. Maybe the teacher might even mumble something like "moron" or "idiot" under his breath.
Or go to the PTC's link of "Education" and then the link to "outside studies." Here you will find a lot more content analysis studies, as well as a massive pile of correlational studies (and look up this blog's January post about correlations and the explanation for why saying that a correlation proves causality will also earn you an "F" in a stats class). The best part of the PTC's list of outside studies, however, is the fact that they actually list some studies that completely disprove their position about media effects!!!!!!! The conclusion here is obvious:
THESE PEOPLE DON'T READ ANY MORE THAN THE TITLES OF RESEARCH ARTICLES BEFORE THEY POST THEM ON THEIR WEB PAGE! Or, for that matter, before they try to lobby and pressure lawmakers to enact unconstitutional, un-American, McCarthyesque censorship laws.
So yes, while the good folks like the PTC, their blowhard leader, Brent Bozell, and all the "concerned" activists in their local chapters are upset over the California decision today, I am having a really, really good laugh at their expense.