Clearspeak: Supreme Court OKs violent video games for kids

— Fairy tales are full of violence, she says, and this violence serves a healthy purpose: a child can experience and learn to manage fear while safely sitting on Mommy’s or Daddy’s lap.

Similarly, Olson argues, a teen can try out different roles — cop or gangster, social worker or serial killer — in the safe world of digitized fantasy.

These games give teens choices, and that’s part of growing up. Olson points out that the most popular game series among boys, “Grand Theft Auto,” allows players to charge at people, waving a chain saw with murderous intent, or mildly drive up to them on a scooter and deliver a pizza.

In the end, most experts agree, violence is as violence does. Children exposed to violence in the home will tend to be violent when they leave the house.

Children who are treated lovingly will replicate this behavior with others. It’s teens’ daily experience of being loved or abused in the home that gets translated into actual behavior, not the video games they play.

But stay tuned.

Like a good violent movie, the Supreme Court’s decision overturning California’s ban left open the possibility of a sequel.

In a concurring opinion (an opinion that agrees with the majority’s conclusions, but for different reasons), Justices Alito and Roberts cautioned, “we should take into account the possibility that developing technology may have important societal implications that will become apparent only with time.”

This is lawyer talk for the possibility that technical improvements in virtual violence — digital gear, for example, that would allow the user to feel the splattering blood from a blown-off head — could tilt the court in a less accepting direction.

Barry Schreibman is a veteran attorney and long-time Cazenovia resident. His legal practice includes general civil litigation and criminal defense work, as well as land-use permitting that involves historic preservation, zoning and environmental issues. He can be reached at 655-5561 or bschreibman@live.com.

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