Pepperdine law professory Barry McDonald has an interesting piece in the LA Times on the Supreme Court case involving California's ban on selling violent video games to minors (Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association).
The law does not ban violent video games, but it forbids selling them to minors. Those over 18 can still purchase the games - they can even purchase the games on behalf of a minor. The idea is that if junior wants the slash 'em game badly enough, he'll have to ask mom or dad to buy it for him.
The law has been challenged on First Amendment grounds, and it faces an uphill struggle in the Supreme Court because, under the precedents, laws that restrict content are subject to a high burden -- too high, says McDonald. The professor argues that our "extreme" first amendment jurisprudence makes it impossible to pursue various desirable policies for fear of infringing something that might be considered "speech."
As much as I hesitate to (a) limit the First Amendment, and (b) agree with Schwarzenegger (who is fighting to defend the law), I think the Terminator and Professor McDonald have a point. I find it hard to believe that the original meaning of the First Amendment was so broad as to forbid public-policy based restrictions on access to content that could be harmful. I wonder whether the Founders would have even considered such "entertainment" to be speech. Thoughts?