Monday, June 27, 2011

SCOTUS Finds R Rating Unconstitutional!

I'm having a rough time with the logic behind this one.

I'm as behind free expression as anyone on this planet. I don't think there should be censorship of any kind. If you want to make something, make it. If you want to say something, say it. If it's profane or shocking or just plain stupid, so be it.

The SCOTUS decision today uses this kind of free speech absolutism to justify getting rid of California's ban on the sale of violent video games to children. Here's what Justice Scalia had to say about this.

“Like the protected books, plays and movies that preceded them, video games communicate ideas — and even social messages — through many familiar literary devices (such as characters, dialogue, plot and music) and through features distinctive to the medium (such as the player’s interaction with the virtual world),” Justice Scalia wrote. “That suffices to confer First Amendment protection.”

I'm totally with him as far as that statement goes. Fist Amendment protection all the way. But here's the problem. California wasn't banning this type of expression. At all. It was only saying that you couldn't sell violent games to minors. That is a completely different thing. It's not even a First Amendment issue.

I don't see how this is any different than not letting kids into R-rated movies. Or (and you knew this was coming) giving them access to porn. Really. If we follow the logic here, and not very far at that, then no one in government has any right to say that children shouldn't have unfettered access to all of the porn they can consume.

Here's Scalia again.

Justice Scalia acknowledged that Justice Alito had identified some disturbing images. “But disgust,” Justice Scalia wrote, “is not a valid basis for restricting expression.”

Again, this ban did not restrict expression. It did not tell video game makers what kinds of games they could make. It simply said they couldn't sell them to minors. Just like porn. Or violent movies.

I think I may agree with Clarence Thomas here for the first time ever.

“ ‘The freedom of speech,’ as originally understood, does not include a right to speak to minors (or a right of minors to access speech) without going through the minors’ parents or guardians,” Justice Thomas wrote.

Scalia responds:

“He cites no case, state or federal, supporting this view, and to our knowledge there is none,” Justice Scalia wrote of Justice Thomas.

Okay. I'll be happy to approach any one of Scalia's underage relatives and begin a conversation with them about how much sex I'd like to have with them. Then I'll show them some nice hardcore porn. And a Takashi Miike film fest. And maybe "Triumph of the Will". I'm sure he'll find absolutely nothing wrong with that. After all, they should be exposed to new ideas. To hell with their parents.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Chris Christie Plays the Victim

I never really bought Chris Christie's schtick about being an honest guy with whom you may not agree but who will always tell you the truth. He lost me for all time today on "Meet the Press".

The transcript is not yet available, so I can't yet quote what I'd like to in this space. But you can watch the whole segment, if you can stomach it. Most of it is Republican boilerplate that I'm not on board with but I can't claim is fundamentally dishonest like almost everything that comes out of Mitch McConnell's mouth.

The part that got me going was the bit close to the end of the segment, about 13 minutes in, when David Gregory shows a clip of Christie on another show being questioned about sending his kids to private school as he slashes funding for public schools.

It seemed like a reasonable question to me. The questioner probably sends her kids to public school and she wants to know why he's reserving privilege for his own kids while telling the rest of the state's parents who can't afford private school that they're SOL.

So does Christie answer the question? No, but he does take victimhood to a new level. Really, you need to watch this. It's shocking. Rather than discuss the public schools, he acts as if the questioner is calling him a bad parent. I was shocked at how awful his initial response was. I was even more shocked at how he expanded on it to David Gregory. Apparently, this is something that no one has a right to talk about. If you bring up public schools you're just insulting Chris Christie. He even managed to defend himself with the "This is who I am" bit.

Okay, Governor, it is who you are. And you're an asshole. You managed to fill another five minutes pretending that your rights as a parent were being questioned and your privacy was being violated somehow. But you never addressed what the questioner actually wanted to know, which was how you could so cavalierly leave the rest of the state's parents out to dry. You made it all about you, which is really distressing. You basically told her and everyone else in New Jersey to fuck off. Oh, and fuck your fucking kids too, NJ parents.

Until today I thought that maybe this guy was a bit less disgraceful than the average Republican. He's not. He's a disgusting hypocritical creep.

UPDATE: And I forgot to say "narcissistic".