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Does the First Amendment Prevent California from Regulating the Sale of Violent and Degrading Video Games to Minors? By Robin Barnes

[T]he violence in Postal  II includes torturing images of young girls, setting them on fire, and bashing their brains out with a shovel, for no reason other than to accumulate more points in the game. In one scene in Postal II, the player (who sees through the eyes of the shooter) looks through a scope on an assault rifle and sees a very realistic image of a person’s face. The player then shoots the victim in the kneecap. As the player watches the victim attempt to crawl away, moaning in pain, the player pours gasoline on the victim and lights him on fire. As the burning victim continues to crawl, the player urinates on the victim, and says “That’s the ticket.” After noting that it “smells like chicken,” the player again looks at the victim through the scope on the gun, and again sees a realistic human face, on fire, crawling toward him. The player then shoots the victim in the face, which turns into charred remnants of a human image. In another scene, the player hits a woman in the face with a shovel, causing blood to gush from her face. As she cries out and kneels down, the player hits her twice more with the shovel, this time decapitating her. The player then proceeds to hit the headless corpse several more times, each time propelling the headless corpse through the air while it continues to bleed.

The State of California has advanced a compelling interest in (1) “preventing violent, aggressive, and antisocial behavior”; and (2) “preventing psychological or neurological harm to minors who play violent video games.”  The question of whether Justice Samuel Alito might emerge as the lone dissenting vote in the tough cases where societal interests clearly outweigh the claims to free speech, remains to be seen.

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