Phyllis Schlafly Attacks Video Game Court Decisions

April 4, 2008 -
schlafly.jpgConservative commentator Phyllis Schlafly has criticized the unbroken string of First Amendment decisions which have protected video games in recent years.

In a column for World Net Daily, Schlafly writes:
Extremely violent video games have become the dangerous obsession of a significant portion of our youth, and several towns and states have passed ordinances intended to prevent minors from buying or viewing them. But judicial supremacists are striking down these laws by claiming this extremely graphic violence deserves the same First Amendment protection as Shakespeare..

Judge Roger L. Wollman [Minnesota Case] ... observed that "great literature includes many themes and descriptions of violence... See, e.g., Judges 4:21 (NIV) ('But Jael, Heber's wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to [Sisera] while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground and he died.')." What Wollman failed to add is that a literary description of violence in the Bible does not engage a teenager in role-playing or desensitize him to the harm...

Schlafly would, apparently, like to impose her definition of free speech, rather than the one upheld in nine federal court cases: 
Legitimate free speech expresses violence in a rational context, rather than displaying it graphically to evoke an immediate emotional reaction. It is not a First Amendment right to cause panic on an airplane by shouting that someone has a bomb; nor is it legitimate free speech to evoke violent reactions in children through graphic video games...

A teenager who learns how to murder and mutilate human beings in video games is desensitized to commit heinous crimes against his neighbors. Nothing in the First Amendment should prevent regulations to stop this, supremacist judges to the contrary notwithstanding.

Comments

Ahh yess, the walking definition of the word "Activist BITCH!".

Pardon the language, but thats what she is.

True enough, but does that make anti-violent videogame advocates hypocrites?

What? An 85 year old doesn't like something new? I'm surprised she has time to criticize videogames what with all those damn kids getting in her yard.

Thank you, Ms. Schlafly, for showing the world exactly why we have the First Amendment in the first place.

"Legitimate free speech expresses violence in a rational context, rather than displaying it graphically to evoke an immediate emotional reaction."

What a disgusting statement. Who the HELL are you to decide what "legitimate" free speech is?

Her dross contains no scientific support (or merit). If ever there were grounds for revoking someone's right to free speech...

@ Vinzent

So she's known for a book that has almost 45 years of dust on it... Yeah she's about as relevent as the Cuban Missle Crisis now.

@ ~the1jeffy

Sorry for my previous post coming off with such venom toward the older generations. I'm well aware that there are some from that generation that do adapt. I have family that has, HOWEVER they do spew the same dribble Phyllis does here.

The only reason these twisted ideals that Phyllis and JT spew haven't gone into law is how the system of gov't works here in the states. I just hope it keeps working.

i say we find a book by her on amazon and give it bad reviews

Good! I always like to see Republicans taking a stand against the First Amendment... It makes it easier to convince normal people to vote Democratic.

@ Joel

Forgot Incest =P

@ Chaplain

It's easy to garner support for ridiculous things these days. Her argument plugs right into this new religion of Victimism.

...it's just Phyllis Schlafly. Give her a Xanax, change her diaper, and send her back to the kitchen. Problem solved.

Im not so worried about this woman. Almost all old people find violence absurd.

I just sent her a letter saying that judges have to rule in favor of the games industry if there isn't enough proof the games cause harm. Let's see if she responds.

@ Shih Tzu

Hate to burst your bubble, but there are plenty of liberal Democrats who would trample free speech in their own way. Remember that most of the anti-games legislation crafted thus far was spearheaded/supported by Democrats.

Part is an effort to court so-called "moral majority" voters, part is the nanny-state political correctness thought police.

That said, it seems conservative commentators (non-politicians) are more adamant against games than their liberal counterparts.

@theshroomguy

Oh, you are so wrong. The world's fate rests in the hands of these holy crusaders, making sure these murder simulators (that basically force teens and children into becoming murderers) are kept out of minor's hands! Basically, like the Paladins from Jumper

"rather than displaying it graphically to evoke an immediate emotional reaction"

You can ban Saving Private Ryan, We Were Soldiers and Enemy At The Gates on that. Just abnout any war film, infact.

You know... It's just Phyllis Schlafly.

@Soldatlouis

No matter how may times I say it, Phyllis Schlafly just sounds like either a genitalia, or some rare form of STD.

Another unintelligent buffoon running her mouth about a non-issue that she knows nothing about.

Why the hell do we "need" legislation? After all, video games are protected by the First Amendment, and like I’ve been posting, if you’re going to infringe on a Constitutional right like freedom of speech based on the claim that the speech in question is “dangerous”, then you better damn well show absolute proof of that. It’s NEVER been done. There is no proof that any harm will come of anyone playing a “violent” video game.

If there is a danger so clear and so threatening to the American people that causes these self-righteous politicians to step on the First Amendment, wouldn’t any rational thinking person have to believe that the danger would have to be so obvious and clear that there would be no argument against it? Especially since you’re directly contradicting a Constitutional amendment.

We, the American people, have not been given any valid reason to believe that this abridging of our freedom of speech is necessary. There just simply isn’t any evidence at all of any danger from “violent” video games. This “protection” from “violent” video games isn’t needed or wanted for that matter, but please feel free to use everyone’s tax dollars for protection from things like a 10-foot storm surge from a Category 3 or greater hurricane or the fuselage of a 747 airplane entering the workplace or the home.

Also making this a non-issue is that the ESA and FTC report that 90% of M-rated game sales are to parents. The NPD Group also estimates M-rated games make up only 15% of all game sales. And the FTC says minors trying to purchase M-rated games are refused over half the time. Less than 1% of all video game sales. Not to mention the crime rates have declined significantly in the last several years.

And Saw, Hostel, and any number of gore-fest movies. Of course, Movies can't be evil for some reason.

Having read her entire column, I expected much worse. Of course, she uses the same old "It's bad because it's interactive" argument, and she seems to talk about things she doesn't know, but it's no more than so many right-wing AND left-wing columnists who frequently blast "violent video games".

@twin skies

so I'm not alone in that thought? Awesome

@ Twin-Skys

God, her name seriously sounds like a penile issue.

>A teenager who learns how to murder and mutilate human beings in video games is desensitized to commit heinous crimes against his neighbors.

...apart from that, y'know, they're not, as many studies have proven. Try again, Phyllis.

/b

"Extremely violent video games have become the dangerous obsession of a significant portion of our youth"

Statistics? Proof? Anything at all to back up this alarmist exaggeration.


"What Wollman failed to add is that a literary description of violence in the Bible does not engage a teenager in role-playing or desensitize him to the harm…"

What this woman fails to comprehend is that there is no harm caused by playing video games. I have never engaged in role playing with any of the games I play. Have I wanted to see how the story ends? Sure, but that doesn't mean I have to empathise with and begin to act like the character. Exactly how I was with...oh, she's mentioned it already! Shakespeare!

Iago in Othello was a horrible character, lying and deceiving, causing grief and suspicion in all around him. Kratos in God of War is a horrible character, violent and bloodthirsty without mercy. I have not acted like either character in my life, as I assume most normal haven't.

Schlafly would, apparently, like to impose her definition of free speech, rather than the one upheld in nine federal court cases:

"Legitimate free speech expresses violence in a rational context, rather than displaying it graphically to evoke an immediate emotional reaction."

To my mind there is no difference between a description of a fictional character being shot, and the depiction on-screen of that fictional character being shot.

"It is not a First Amendment right to cause panic on an airplane by shouting that someone has a bomb; nor is it legitimate free speech to evoke violent reactions in children through graphic video games…"

Again, she doesn't understand, but I've gone past expecting these people to actually research and back up their blanket statements. Repeat after me Phyllis: VIDEO GAMES DO NOT PROVOKE VIOLENT REACTIONS IN CHILDREN OR IN ANYONE ELSE.

"A teenager who learns how to murder and mutilate human beings in video games is desensitized to commit heinous crimes against his neighbors. Nothing in the First Amendment should prevent regulations to stop this, supremacist judges to the contrary notwithstanding."

It never ends... Anyone who would murder or mutilate another human being was disturbed well before they ever played a video game. How can she explain the fact that all of the murder and rape that goes was happening for years before the television was invented, never mind videogames. How can she explain the fact that the crime rates have not increased with the adcent of the videogame era? Oh, I forgot, being on a moral high horse means you don't have to explain yourself or offer any proof. As long as you say it's for the children, you are free to pontificate and expound on subjects which you know nothing about without fear of response or argument. It makes me sick.

"literary description of violence in the Bible does not engage a teenager in role-playing or desensitize him to the harm…"

BALLOUCKS!
Context is context is context you can not say one form of fictional violence is better than another.....

What you want to do with legislation is remove another level of freedom from the people just so the government can have a easier time herding them...BTW either all speech is "Legitimate free speech" or none is.

I'm sure most people could figure out how to kill another human even being without the help of these darn vidjamagames.

Honestly I stopped caring what she said when I read the word Conservative. She's just some crotchety old hag who hates video games and has a name that sounds like a STD.

[...] wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptConservative commentator Phyllis Schlafly has criticized the unbroken string of First Amendment decisions which have protected video games in recent years. In a column for World Net Daily, Schlafly writes: Extremely violent video games have become the dangerous obsession of a significant portion of our youth, and several towns and states have passed ordinances intended to prevent minors from buying or viewing them. But judicial supremacists are striking down these laws by claiming this extremely graphic violence deserves the same First Amendment protection as Shakespeare.. [...]

The bible has been used to justify bigotry and even murder and genocide.

What makes video games worse again?

Is it just me or do every single bible-thumping pro censor seem to forget about the bible being used as an excuse for over a thousand years of genocide and violence?

Untouchable
everything is ok when they do it, thats bible thumpers for you.

Yes ma'am, we all agree not to shout fire in a theater, crowded or not. That wasn't the verdicts handed down in court.

Is Phyllis Schlafly still alive? I dunno - in that photo she looks more like a corpse to me. Maybe the Christian right has perfected reanimation.

1) Old people are old
2) Lies about research are lies
3) Free speech is free

Therefor, Phyllis is a retard. QED

She used a term I had never heard before in the context of the judiciary. "Supremacists” I have, of course heard the term in dealing with racists but I've never heard judges called that in a different context.

Then I see that she has a book out entitled "Supremacists: The Tyranny of Judges and How to Stop It" at the bottom of the column. That's when I realized this column was little more than a method to coin a new term to help sell her books.

This is the same thing we've seen for centuries when it comes to new entertainment media. When TV came along we were told it was dangerous, harmful to kids and violent. Movies and radio were the devil's work. When bibles were translated into English people were burned at the stake for printing the translated versions. Video games have to go through this same reactionary crucible because there are always a few people who are afraid of anything new.

"But judicial supremacists ..."

Excuse me?

"...are striking down these laws by claiming this extremely graphic violence deserves the same First Amendment protection as Shakespeare.."

Or Fred Phelps.
Or the KKK or Black Panthers.
Or the Baptist convention (who referred to homosexuals as an "abomination").
Or FOX News (who won the legal Right to lie to and deceive their audience).
Or the Racist Al Sharpton or the Racist Jesse Jackson.
Or David Duke.
Or Eric Rudolph (whose act of murder was a crime, but his ignorant prattlings are protected Free Speech).
Or a great many religious followers who promote bigotry and hate in their services and dogma.
And so many others.

"Legitimate free speech expresses violence in a rational context, rather than displaying it graphically to evoke an immediate emotional reaction. It is not a First Amendment right to cause panic on an airplane by shouting that someone has a bomb; nor is it legitimate free speech to evoke violent reactions in children through graphic video games…"

Uh, you mean like showing videos of injustices on the news (such as, but definitely not limited to, the Rodney King and Reginald Denny beatings)?
Such as movies like "Passion of the Christ"?
Or video documentaries about events such as war?
Or video documentaries about protests to various events, including riots during the Civil Rights eras?
Or anti-abortion videos that don't deal straight with facts but rather use graphic imagry to incite various emotional responses?
Or the religious "haunted houses" that try to scare people with "horrors" of various situations manipulated to incite negative emotional responses?
Or books written to incite various emotional responses by using and even abusing individuals, families, and communities who have suffered various tragedies just to push one's own personal, religious, and/or political beliefs?

So let's see her get behind banning THOSE exposures to violence. After all, according to her own definition, THEY aren't "legitimate" either.

Nightwng2000
NW2K Software
Nightwng2000 NW2K Software http://www.facebook.com/nightwing2000 Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

A teenager who learns how to murder and mutilate human beings in video games is desensitized to commit heinous crimes against his neighbors.

If video games were really what taught us how to murder, a lot of kids would be in the street jumping, and strafing around like idiots. Games don't teach you how to load or fire realistically. They teach you to press 'A' and 'B'.

We should get someone to show her that Videogames aren't a child's toy anymore. I wonder if she would believe that if she saw the facts.

And to add to that. Games don't bring about some desire to kill. No matter how many headshots I score in Halo, I'll never see the nice lady next door as 200 points. She's a human being, and video games don't change my view on that.

We never get anything new. I could write a rebuttal to this and then recycle it, probably word for word for the next time someone criticises video games. I'll leave that for some other time and be more specific.

So let's see...

The Bible, not only describes some violent activities in grisly detail, but makes it quite clear that this is a morally acceptable way to behave.

Video games do indeed encourage remarkably unpleasant behaviour within the context of the game but never suggests that this is a moral or correct way to behave in the real world.

The Bible has been used for justification for violence by a number of right wing fanatical groups, and interpretations in dogma have been the excuse for considerable violence in Northern Ireland for many years.

Video games are occasionally used after the fact as an explanation for violence, but there has never been a clear correlation shown.

I guess if I ask someone to 'smack that ignorant bitch', it wouldn't qualify as "legitimate free speech". I guess it would be more of a "Thought Crime".

Another right wing christian whining? They always bitch about this or that...

*yawns*

"A teenager who learns how to murder and mutilate human beings in video games is..."

...going to be a very poor murderer.

Ya know, I never knew it.. but I have been learning to kill with my video games... last night I learned that I could LT X B A A A B X RA-RT X RT RT X Y RT... and then then if I hit A at the right time, the Quicktime event would totally destroy my neighbor by DRIVING A PEG THROUGH HIS TEMPLE, INTO THE GROUND....

Yea, video games taught me how to kill.. we need to monitor people, so they don't press these evil button combos.

It is a very difficult task to express violence in a rational context without eliciting any emotional reaction. It's like sanitizing violence and in my view that doesn't make any favours to society or culture.

"this extremely graphic violence deserves the same First Amendment protection as Shakespeare.."

Umm, guess what? Shakespeare is no stranger to extreme violence. I should know, I am a theatre major in college. Let's look at a few...

MacBeth - Kills King Duncan in his sleep, Kills Banquo, Kills MacDuff's wife and son, MacDuff kills MacBeth and beheads him.

Titus Andronicus - Rapist is caught killed and turned into a pie and is then fed to his own mother.

Romeo & Juliet - Tybalt kills Mercutio, Romeo kills Tybalt, R&J commit suicide.

Hamlet - Hoo boy! Hamlet's father is poisoned, Hamlet kills Claudius, Ophellia drowns herself, Hamlet and Larates(misspelled, I know) kill each other in a dual, Hamlet's mother drinks poison meant for Hamlet, Hamlet kills his uncle.

And that's just a sample. Really the biggest difference is that Shakespeare is a lot fancier with his language. Now I'm not trying to decry Shakespeare, I love it. I'm just trying to show a major flaw in her argument.

> Umm, guess what? Shakespeare is no stranger to extreme violence.

Not only that, but Shakespeare's plays were also banned in Britian for a while because they were considered to be--guess what!--corrupting influences. It wasn't until much later that people realized his bawdy plays were actually great literature.

It's a good thing they weren't banned permenantly, or we might have lost something really important! So maybe we shouldn't be so hasty in deciding that the next new thing is a corrupting influence.

I have not yet seen an anti-game lobbyist/activist under the approximate age of 50. If they are out there, I've somehow not seen them.

Why are the vast majority of anti-game people members of the pre-videogame generation?

Very telling.

Why is it that most of these moral crusading activists look so butt-ugly?

This doesn't surprise me, especially since Schlafly is the head of the Eagle Forum, which Jack Thompson also belongs to. If you pay attention, they spout a lot of the same rhetoric.

Harlan Ellision said it best with regards to Schlafly. When asked what he would do if she walked into the headlights of his car (and I would do exactly the same thing, both to her and Thompson), he would "knock her into the next time zone." He also described her as "a mischievous woman who does terrible things." (Again, same can be said of Thompson)
 
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