Court hits right button with video-game ruling

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to strike down a California law banning the sale of violent video games to minors, it's time for parents to "level up" in their roles as responsible fathers and mothers and make sure their kids don't buy anything inappropriate for their age.

The high court's 7-2 decision Monday has beefed up free-speech protections. Justice Antonin Scalia, in writing the majority opinion, said the court was unwilling to create a “new category of content-based regulation that is permissible only for speech directed at children.” Scalia properly noted that although states have the power to protect children from harm, that should not include the power to restrict children's exposure to ideas.

That is not to say that the court has left parents to fend for themselves. On the contrary, the decision changes surprisingly little about the way violent video games are currently purchased. Most video-game stores already have policies prohibiting the sale of video games rated "Mature" by the Entertainment Software Rating Board to minors without parental approval. Many stores do not carry copies of games rated "Adults Only."

The current video-game purchasing system is almost identical to the generally accepted system used by the motion-picture industry. It is not the law, but company policies, that require movie theaters to prohibit the sale of R-rated film tickets to those under 17 unless they are with an adult.

The California law voided by the court was an unnecessary prohibition. Parents should be expected to know their children better than the government and be allowed to judge for themselves whether it should be "game over" for their children before they even get close to purchasing an inappropriate video game.