Rarely has the Supreme Court struck a blow for individual freedom as it did in its recent decision in Brown vs. Entertainment Merchants Association. The ruling had dissenters on the left (Justice Breyer) and on the right (Justice Thomas), but nobody on the political center-right should be doing anything but cheering the outcome of this case, which centered on a 2005 California law restricting the sale of certain violent video games to children.
The Court upheld lower court decisions and revoked the law, ruling that video games were protected speech under the First Amendment. No one in their right mind would endorse the sale of these games to minors; in fact, many people believe that no one in their right mind (of any age) should even play these games. But the issue was whether the government has the right to restrict their sale, or whether the responsibility for such restrictions belongs in the hands of parents. What the high court really concluded is that government is not in the parenting business, and that Moms and Dads should get their fat carcasses off the couch, monitor what their kids are doing, and learn how to say NO.
In a world where regulations are taking over almost every imaginable aspect of our lives, it’s rare that anyone from the government instructs you to figure things out for yourself. One particularly pernicious area of government intervention is within the relationship between children and their parents. Too often, kids are told that they don’t have to listen to their parents, because there is a government agency chock-full of bureaucrats ready to help.
The Supreme Court clearly stated that no matter how heinous the game, it is the parents – not the government – who are responsible for supervising their children and ensuring that they don’t entertain themselves with this garbage. What a refreshing ruling. It’s a cold slap in the face of every growing bureaucracy that wants to take over our lives.
Unfortunately, this decision didn’t stop the State of California from attempting to expand their domain in another invasive and equally fruitless manner. The legislature passed – and Governor Jerry Brown signed – an anti cyber-bullying bill, which continues a trend in which government injects itself into issues better handled on a local, community basis. The fact that this bill became law demonstrates how leftists place no limit on how they will intercede into our lives – even if they have absolutely no ability to enforce the bill they passed.
The bill allows schools to suspend students for “bullying” classmates on social networking sites. This raises a huge number of questions. Are schools now supposed to hire personnel to monitor these websites? What, exactly, constitutes bullying? Does one girl professing that another girl dresses geeky constitute bullying? Does one boy saying that another plays football like a girl constitute bullying? Isn’t this all really another means of suppressing the First Amendment?
This is what happens when government over-intrudes into our lives and personal decisions. Unbelievably, the California State PTA went along with this. Maybe they should have figured out that they endorsed abandoning parental rights and responsibilities to a bunch of faceless bureaucrats. Or perhaps they should spend a little more time parenting instead of attending PTA meetings, after which they no doubt return home and wonder why they pay so much money in state taxes.
Hopefully, some intelligent organization will sue the State of California and overturn this ridiculous piece of legislation. We need thoughtful and committed warriors to fight the continuing expansion of government. It’s not just that government spends 37% of every dollar in our economy (as opposed to 27% just fifty years ago). It’s the entire attitude that government is capable of making every decision for us – a growing trend whose ultimate effect is the breakdown of families and communities.
A perfect example of this nanny-state attitude emerged in the fight over light bulbs. As you know, the standard incandescent bulb is being phased out by government fiat. In response to some objections to this policy, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu – who is convinced that he knows better than the rest of us – made this incredible statement: “We are taking away a choice that continues to let people waste their own money,” which just confirms his opinion that if both bulbs are on the shelf, we are too stupid to select the correct one ourselves. Sometimes it feels like we’re all drowning in the limitless arrogance of these petty little dictators.
Soon, people like Steven Chu will be making all of our decisions unless we stand up and say “No more! We’re doing quite fine without you, so take a hike.” That’s exactly what the Supreme Court said: Parents, you’re in charge now, so do your job.