In Schwarzenegger vs. Entertainment Merchants Association, Protect People Not Corporations
It was the mid- nineties; I was a panelist at a State University of New York, Old Westbury conference, speaking on research on the effects of violent entertainment on children. Afterwards, at lunch, I sat with a professor and an administrator at the university. They spent the hour telling me how stressed they and their wives were from their efforts to keep their sons away from extremely violent entertainment, especially the recent, enormously popular videogame Doom. The extreme violence in earlier games was bad enough, but Doom introduced first person shooting -- their sons directly doing the virtual killing was too much. They, like so many parents who spoke to me after lectures, were trying to cope with the fact that their efforts to protect their sons from the marketing of a culture of violence, led to their boys being ostracized, called nerds or geeks. Peer pressure was intense and painful; nagging constant. Parents were torn. When we said good bye, one of the men sheepishly told me," I must confess, my wife and I broke down; a few days ago we got him Doom."
If so many upper middle class two parent families couldn't handle it, how could single parents, or families where parents worked two or three jobs? I began to experience the industry's mantra, "it's up to the parents to decide what their children should watch or play," as bordering on sadism. Since the mid-nineties, first person shooter games have become standard, and games have become even more violent.
In the late 1980's, I was researching a book on decreasing violence in boys. To avoid making impossible recommendations with respect to violent entertainment, I interviewed four First Amendment experts including Stanford law professor Marc Franklin and then Cardozo Law School Dean Monroe Price. "Would laws to protect children from entertainment violence have a reasonable chance of passing Supreme Court muster?" I asked. All answered affirmatively. As long as the First Amendment rights of adults were protected, such laws seemed to be in keeping with obscenity and liquor laws to protect children.