Leland Yee, Who Wrote Unconstitutional Anti-Game Law, Tells Gamers 'Quiet Down.'

Illustration for article titled Leland Yee, Who Wrote Unconstitutional Anti-Game Law, Tells Gamers 'Quiet Down.'

Remember the law California passed in 2005 criminalizing the sale of violent video games to kids? The one that got thrown out in 2011 by the Supreme Court? The thing that led to the Supreme Court declaring games were protected speech, an artistic expression? Right. Well, the author of that legislation has something to say to you gamers: Shut up.

"Gamers have just got to quiet down," Leland Yee told the San Francisco Chronicle. "Gamers have no credibility in this argument."

That's an interesting point of view to hear from someone whose biggest contribution to this debate is an unconstitutional law. We're not talking about a law that died in committee or defeated on the floor or watered down by the opposition. It's a law overturned by the Supreme Court, which in addition to tossing out a half-assed attempt to criminalize "ultraviolent" games, without describing what that meant, really, found that there was no proven link between violent video game content and violent behavior in kids. Only that proof of harm would have made it constitutional in the way that pornography is legally restricted from sale to minors. That link was the basis of the public-health need Yee's law ostensibly was meant to address.


And yet gamers are the ones lacking credibility in this argument? OK.

The remainder of the Chronicle's piece isn't so inflammatory—Ian Bogost, the Georgia Tech games researcher, is quoted, and Kris Graft of Gamasutra also lends his thoughts. Graft doesn't absolve video games of an image problem that the industry has, through some questionable marketing and other choices, fairly earned. He has written that the popularity and variety of shooter video games serves a gun-loving culture more than it's responsible for creating one.

Still, Yee is telling everyone on this side of the discussion to be quiet, so I assume these two are included, too. Let's pipe down, folks. "This is all about their lust for violence and the industry's lust for money," he added. "This is a billion-dollar industry. This is about their self-interest." If there's anything incredible here, other than Yee's arrogance, it's Yee himself.

Video games drawn into violence debate [San Francisco Chronicle]

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For those who haven't read the gist of Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association check it out at oyez.com. To be entirely honest, I sort of agree with Leland Yee and here's why: There's absolutely nothing unconstitutional about banning video games. Allow me to explain.

The 1st Amendment protects people's right to free speech for purposes of political dissent. It doesn't protect "smut" or violent media. For those commentors out their that believe SCotUS is infallible I'd suggest looking at some of their old decisions: What the Court thinks is "Unconsitutional" has been wildly different depending on who was presiding. If we accept that the Court is always right we have to accept decisions like Dredd Scott and Plessy as legitimate in their time, right?

I'm a gamer and ardent libertarian but the decision in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association doesn't make any sense (I think Thomas' dissent has it right). If we want to say that California has the right to pass legislation legalizing marijuana, it should also have the right to pass legislation to band the sale of games to minors.

I know that young, digitally-minded types get up-in-arms over content restriction but it is our duty as citizens to also understand the founding principles of our Constitution and apply them consistent with their intent. When Leland Yee says, "gamers have no credibility in this argument" I can't help but wonder if this is what he's talking about.