After Adam Lanza gunned down 20 first-graders in mid-December, news emerged that the troubled 20-year-old played violent video games including Call of Duty.
That revelation sparked a debate that has raged in this country at least since Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold opened fire on Columbine High School in 1999.
Do violent video games inspire troubled teens to "act out" their bloody fantasy lives?
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has contended the games do inspire bloody acts.
Naturally, video game makers are a little worried that being vilified could hurt their $60 billion industry.
Game makers have been pulling together scientific research they say shows no link between video games and actual violence as part of their latest lobbying efforts, the Times reported.
While the NRA and some other conservatives have been quick to blame video game makers for school rampages, violent video game companies have found an unlikely ally: right-leaning Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
In June 2011, Scalia wrote an opinion finding kids have a First Amendment right to play violent video games by striking down a California ban on selling violent video games to minors.
Scalia suggested violent video games were being unfairly singled out, pointing out that plenty of children's literature features gruesome imagery. Hansel and Gretel baked their captor in an oven, Scalia notes, while other children savagely killed The Lord of the Flies' Piggy.
The justice added:
This is not to say that minors’ consumption of violent entertainment has never encountered resistance. In the 1800’s, dime novels depicting crime and “penny dreadfuls” (named for their price and content) were blamed in some quarters for juvenile delinquency ... When motion pictures came along, they became the villains instead.
Scalia also responded to the argument that violent video games pose special problems because they are "interactive" and allow players to determine the outcome of a plot. Here's what Scalia said:
Since at least the publication of The Adventures of You: Sugarcane Island in 1969, young readers of choose-your-own adventure stories have been able to make decisions that determine the plot by following instructions about which page to turn to.
While the public does have a responsibility to protect children, the state doesn't have the "free-floating" power to decide kids can't be exposed to certain ideas, Scalia said. We'll have to see whether the nation's lawmakers agree with him.
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