Yesterday the National Coalition Against Censorship sent a letter to Richard Davey, Secretary and C.E.O. of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, questioning the Department’s decision to remove a number of video games in rest areas along the Massachusetts Turnpike. Video games featuring a plastic “light gun” used to shoot onscreen game elements were removed from a number of rest areas after a visitor at one rest stop complained the games were “inappropriate.” (Boston Globe link: “State removes violent games from rest stops”)
In the letter, (below) NCAC Executive Director Joan Bertin noted that the Supreme Court has ruled that video games are protected speech under the First Amendment. Bertin called the state’s action to remove games because of an individual’s objection to content “constitutionally problematic.”
The letter went on to point out the precarious position the Department had put itself in by caving to demands for censorship. If the state is willing to remove video games from a public area because of a complaint, what else will it remove?
“Those who do not wish to play video games at rest-stops do not have to, just as those who do not wish to read a particular book or magazine do not have to.” Bertin wrote in the letter. “However, they do not have the right to keep others from playing and enjoying a perfectly legal form of casual entertainment.”
NCAC has long been a defender of video games when they have come under fire from those seeking to draw correlations between media violence and real-life violence. To view NCAC’s timeline of Video Game Controversies, see: Video Game Issues Timeline.