No faith in Yee

California State Senator Leland Yee has just spent somewhere in the ballpark of a million Californian taxpayer dollars to have his bill on violent video games struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional. Again.

Yee says he’s going to do it again. In fact, that would make the third time he’s heaped all of that money into a pile and metaphorically set fire to it.

You see, the same thing happened about six years ago. Now it’s happened again. And, if Yee has its way, it will keep happening, so long as he is in office.

Having the bill violate the First Amendment of the US Bill of Rights isn’t actually an entirely fatal stumbling block. There’s precedent for overriding the Bill of Rights in situations where clear harm is demonstrated. Given the millions in taxpayer money that Yee has poured into the bills so far, how much credible evidence has that paid for to put in front of the courts?

None at all.

Zero.

Seriously.

I’m not saying that credible evidence of that sort does not exist, but Yee and his supporters haven’t provided any. All of the research that’s been done in the field and Yee and his team could not find one, single credible research result to support their case? Admittedly, there’s credible results that contradicts Yee’s opinion, and there’s plenty of non-credible results on both sides, but still. Surely something valid could have been dug up.

As such, when constitutionality inevitably crops up, there is no verifiable research results to support the proposition of harm for the judges to consider.

Yee – whose background is in psychology – has floated the bills on his assumption and professional opinion. Which is much like a doctor deciding whether a drug is safe or harmful without there having been any valid clinical trials.

Well, that’s a bit sloppy of Yee – especially since we’ve already gone around this ride before. It’s certainly a waste of money.

“The evidence is absolutely crystal clear that there are harmful effects on our children,” said Yee. Pity he failed to actually provide any of it to back his case.

I imagine that in the near future, quite a few tax-payer dollars will either be spent on children’s education, parental education, subsidising and promoting non-violent and non-sexual game development (neither sex nor violence is strictly necessary for a great gaming experience), perhaps even on the homeless … or Yee can just grab a bulldozer and start assembling all of that funding into a new million-dollar pile of state tax money outside the Senate to set fire to for attempt number three.

I know which option I’d bet on.

Of course, if you’re a minor, it’s easier for you to see an R-rated film (and much easier for you to buy an R-rated DVD) than it is for you to buy an M-rated video game. Maybe some money could be spent on that instead.

11 thoughts on “No faith in Yee”

  1. I hadn’t realised that there was a serial legislator on the loose in California.

    What I saw reported earlier suggested that the law had some serious flaws in how it defined a game unsuitable for a minor, including a lack of a system which would let a game publisher label a game without having to second-guess a court. I think they refer to that as a “chilling effect” and it is much frowned on by the USSC.

  2. The health and welfare of the American people is very low on the list compared to personal vendettas, snits, and quibbles for the new even-righter-than-far-rightwing politicians.

  3. Any effort to get the Supreme Court to overturn this ruling is a total waste of money. It will not rehear the case for many years, since the decision unified both left and right wings of the Court with a 7-2 decision.

    The Court does not like to waste effort, and does not “reconsider” decisions easily. It took 58 years for the court to overturn Plessy versus Ferguson, which allowed for racial segregation in the United States (1896) with Brown versus Board of Education which overturned it in 1954.

    Other decisions, such as Roe versus Wade allowing abortion (1973) in the United States sometimes come up in reference to some restrictions upon it, but lets face it folks — these issues are far more important than perceived violence in video games. Mr. Yee is wasting the valuable tax dollars of Californians by continuing his quixotic quest.

  4. That just begs for the title “O Yee of Little Faith”, but being serious, as the issue deserves: especially given California’s wretched financial situation, he and the legislature in general should not be throwing away money on this sort of pointless campaign.

  5. That was actually my working title – but Yee has plenty of faith that he’s in the right with this. He just hasn’t been able to back that faith up with credible evidence.

  6. Governments never save any money at all, they just prioritise its waste.

    There’s whats called the “miller test” for porn in the U.S. I’m wondering why there’s not a “miller test” for violence.

    Long ago I heard a comic in NYC lampoon censorship in the U.S. saying something like: It’s obscenity if a woman strips off her own clothes; if she has her clothes blown off by a hand grenade, thats perfectly alright.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miller_test

  7. Also you have to be careful with “The Drum” opinion pieces something caught my eye:

    “The official classification Code initially echoes the Australian Constitution by opening with the phrase “adults should be able to read, hear and see what they want”.”

    It does not, read it if you like: ( http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/coaca430/ ) The only obligation that the federal government has in regards to the freedom of speech is due to australia being a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and we all know how the federal government views its obligations under U.N. treaties. It’s outlined here rather more coherently: http://www.aph.gov.au/Library/pubs/rn/2001-02/02rn42.htm

  8. “One study, for example, found that children who had just finished playing violent video games were more likely to fill in the blank letter in “explo_e” with a “d” (so that it reads “explode”) than with an “r” (“explore”). … The prevention of this phenomenon, which might have been anticipated with common sense, is not a compelling state interest.”
    from the descision

  9. oh and this!
    ” JUSTICE THOMAS ignores the holding of Erznoznik, and denies that persons under 18 have any constitutional right to speak or be spoken to without their parents’ consent. He cites no case, state or federal, supporting this view, and to our knowledge there is none. Most of his dissent is devoted to the proposition that parents have traditionally had the power to control what their children hear and say. This is true enough. And it perhaps follows from this that the state has the power to enforce parental prohibitions—to require, for example, that the promoters of a rock concert exclude those minors whose parents have advised the promoters that their children are forbidden to attend. But it does not follow that the state has the power to prevent children from hearing or saying anything without their parents’ prior consent. The latter would mean, for example, that it could be made criminal to admit persons under 18 to a political rally without their parents’ prior written consent—even a political rally in support of laws against corporal punishment of children, or laws in favor of greater rights for minors. And what is good for First Amendment rights of speech must be good for First Amendment rights of religion as well: It could be made crimi- nal to admit a person under 18 to church, or to give a person under 18 a religious tract, without his parents’ prior consent. Our point is not, as JUSTICE THOMAS believes, post, at 16, n. 2, merely that such laws are “undesirable.” They are obviously an infringement upon the religious freedom of young people and those who wish to proselytize young people. Such laws do not enforce parental authority over children’s speech and religion; they impose governmental authority, subject only to a parental veto. In the absence of any precedent for state control, uninvited by the parents, over a child’s speech and religion (JUSTICE THOMAS cites none), and in the absence of any justification for such control that would satisfy strict scrutiny, those laws must be unconsti- tutional. This argument is not, as JUSTICE THOMAS asserts, “circular,” ibid. It is the absence of any historical warrant or compelling justifica- tion for such restrictions, not our ipse dixit, that renders them invalid.”

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