Showing posts with label parental rights. Show all posts
Showing posts with label parental rights. Show all posts

Sunday, September 10, 2023

It's Iimi! The Battle of All Mothers

 As Iimi copes with attending a different high school, her sister, Paula, and their friends race to find evidence to exonerate her. Meanwhile, the parents' group realizes that talking among themselves is insufficient, and now is the time to act. It will be… The Battle of All Mothers

(I decided to release this comic a day early. While the title and image have nothing to do with the events of 9/11/2001, I did worry that the scene of destruction on the cover and title might lead people to think it was insensitive to release it on the day of the memorial.)

Post-Comic Notes:

Some Artwork in this comic was AI-generated through NightCafe. I'm not planning to make a habit of this. But the semi-distorted (you should have seen the ones I deleted) appearance fits in with Iimi being in a new school that is alien to her.

 The title is derived from the first Kuwait war in 1991. Saddam Hussein promised the "mother of all battles" (ام المعاركumm al-ma'ārik) if the Allies attempted to invade.

 An embarrassing note: I discovered one outfit for characters in ComiPo had an inappropriate logo for a Christian-themed comic. I probably never noticed it before because I never used it on a significant supporting character. I blurred it out in this comic and changed the outfit for future appearances of the character.

 So, my apologies to anyone who may have noticed it previously. It was unintentional.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

It’s Iimi! Misfire

After laying low for a week, Helen Otios and Vera Machen are ready to launch a presentation that will “refute” Iimi and the Church. But the speaker seems to think that the argument of a “bigot” shouldn’t be dignified by a response. Given that the lecturer was defeated by Iimi once before, will this turn into a bullying session? Or will this attempt to target her turn out to be a MISFIRE?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Reflections on the California Video Game Law Before the Supreme Court

There is recently a California law before the Supreme Court which forbids the sales of certain violent video games to minors (See here for some background).  What strikes me about this discussion is what is not being asked.

The Issue NOT Under Discussion

First of all, let me preempt certain angry responses

On some gamer sites, the argument tends to go that people either are entirely for censorship or must insist on no restrictions whatsoever, so let me make clear that this article is not an article supporting state control over all issues of our lives.

Moreover, this is not an article seeking to defend the California law (I think it should be redrafted personally as it is too vague in some parts and redundant in others)

What this Article IS About

What this article hopes to make clear is that there is a difference between the rights which an adult possesses and the rights which a child not yet legally responsible for their own decisions possesses — specifically the issue of the rights of the parent to bring up their children in accordance to what is right.

Ultimately this article focuses on the question of whether the retailer has the right to sell a movie or game with content labeled Mature or Restricted to a minor without consulting the parent.

"Freedom of Speech" Misses the Point

The article cites some of the Supreme Court Justices as divided:

"We do not have a tradition in this country of telling children they should watch people actively hitting schoolgirls over the head with a shovel so they'll beg with mercy, being merciless and decapitating them, shooting people in the leg so they fall down," Chief Justice John Roberts said, according to a Nov. 2 report by the Associated Press.

By contrast, Justice Antonin Scalia said: "I am concerned with the First Amendment, which says Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech." He then added: "It has never been understood that the freedom of speech did not include portrayals of violence. You are asking us to create a whole new prohibition which the American people never ratified when they ratified the First Amendment."

Here is my problem with the basic assumptions of the Court: That it is a Free Speech issue as opposed to an issue of denying parents the right to control the media their minor children are exposed to.

The Parental Authority over their Children Overrides the Freedom of Expression for the Child

Whether one is strict on lenient on the types of restrictions which ought to be placed on content in media, one issue which used to be recognized is that the parent has the right to set the restrictions on what his or her minor child can view.

When one recognizes this, it becomes irrelevant to what the Supreme Court says on Free Speech.  If a parent deems certain material offensive, the Supreme Court does not have the right to overrule the parental decision.

Now of course there are limits.  As I pointed out in a past article parents can use poor judgment, and that merely using the "if it is ok with the parent, nobody has a right to complain" argument can lead to some extreme problems. 

We do realize there are also some moral absolutes involved.  If (to use a hypothetical example) a parent were to see nothing wrong with permitting their minor children the right to drink, smoke and watch pornography, most people would consider such parents failing to live up to their obligation in bringing up their children.

So here we run into a problem.  Some parents do have issues with the exposure of their children to R rated moves and M rated video games.  Others do not.  So the question is what happens when a minor goes to buy a movie or a game which is rated for an age above the person buying it?

Understanding the Movie/Game Rating System

We do recognize that certain bodies offer ratings to advise parents of the content of certain media.  The MPAA for example has an 'R' rating which advises that "Children Under 17 Require Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian."  It also has an 'NC-17' rating which advises "No One 17 and Under Admitted."  Such ratings are not considered censorship for requiring a parent or guardian to accompany anyone under the age of 17 to an R rated movie and forbidding anyone 17 and under from seeing an NC-17 movie.  Rather they are considered to be helping parents be aware of the content.

Likewise the ESRB has a rating system for video games.  It gives a general description of videogames content to advise parents.  The issue of course is whether a game has content intended for people 17 and older.  The M rating for the ESRB rating is described as:

Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.

Very well.  For people who grew up with things like Pac Man and Space Invaders, a game which shows graphic death, profanity or other things may be problematic.  However, so long as we make sure that only individuals old enough to buy the game for themselves, or parents/guardians have made an informed decision that the game is not morally offensive, we do not have a problem.

When Retailers Violate the Rights of Parents

The problem with such a system is that, being voluntary, there is no legal obligation for a retailer to stop a 14 year old kid from buying a copy of RoboCop or Grand Theft Auto.  Now some stores have policies to check ID and some stores do not carry certain materials which goes against a family friendly mindset.

Unfortunately others do not, and that is why this case is before the Supreme Court.

This is my own take on the subject.  A law which requires a check of ID and requires parents to purchase  R rated movies or M rated games for their minor children does not violate the rights of the movie/game distributor, the retailer, the minor child or the parent.

HOWEVER, the retailer who does sell to a minor without checking ID does usurp the rights of the parent by making an assumption that the child has permission of his or her parent, or by not caring whether or not the child has permission so long as he has money.

Laws Requiring the Check of ID Do Not Demand the State do Parenting Instead of Parents

One of the annoying Straw man arguments I have seen on gamer sites is the claim that laws which place any restrictions demonstrate bad parenting by insisting the state do parenting for them.  That kind of argument might have been true back in the past before VCR Players, DVD Players and home consoles, and even PCs were common enough to be in every room of the house, back when either parents had to drive youth places or the youth were old enough to drive.

Instead, such laws prevent the minor from certain levels of access to content their parents have forbidden.  Now of course such laws can never be perfect.  There is always the possibility of the retailer being fooled by a fake ID.  There is always the possibility of a minor being exposed to content at the house of a friend with more lenient standards.  It would be ridiculous to expect the law to enforce the impossible.

However it does not follow that because a law cannot prevent everything it should prevent nothing.

On the Other Hand, The Existence of Laws Do Not Remove the Responsibilities of Parents

Just because a law exists which prevents the minor from the legal purchasing of something controlled does not mean the parent can abdicate any of their own responsibilities.  It is the responsibility of the parent to raise their child in keeping with the truth, and to discern what is acceptable or unacceptable in a way which movie or game ratings cannot accept.

For example, many parents have decided that the movie The Passion of the Christ was something they found suitable for their children to watch despite the violence contained within the movie.  On the other hand, Catholic parents would be unwise to let the old game Grandia II into their house even though it had a "T" rating (it was a pretty anti-Catholic game).

It's not enough to say "It's rated [whatever], therefore it must be OK/Bad."  Parents do need to discern messages in a movie or game which the state or rating agency is not competent to judge.

Thus we need to look at a fine line to see what can be legally liable and what cannot.

What a Just Law Should Require

Now the problem with the California law is that it sets up a state commission to establish what games within the ESRB code require a special 18+ sticker for violence.  This is redundant of course.  It is also subjective.  By what criteria is this commission to discern what is acceptable and what is not.  Is it acceptable for a store to not sell a game with a special 18+ sticker to a minor 16 years old, but also acceptable for a store to sell a game without the sticker, but still rated M (for 17+) to the same 16 year old?

I think certain objections on a vague line are justified.  If a game would warrant an 18+ sticker, why is it not rated AO for example instead of M.  Such a law creates overlapping

However, just because the current form of the California law seems to be flawed, it does not seem to logically follow that therefore no law should exist.

It seems to me that a just law would require the retailer to check the ID before selling a movie rated R or NC-17, or a game rated M or AO to someone who is suspected of being under the required age, refusing to sell to people under this age, and if the retailer will not comply, they can be fined for violations of such a law.


Such a law would not prevent a parent or guardian from using their own discretion and permitting a child to view a certain R rated movie or playing a certain M rated game.  Nor would it violate the rights of the game creator from offering a game for sale or a retailer to sell games to an adult.

It would however say to the retailer "You do not have a right to sell such a movie or game to a minor who is not your own child.  Only the parent has this right to permit the child access."

Again, such a law would not protect the minor from being exposed to materials at a home of a friend with parents who held lesser standards.  However, once we recognize such a situation is beyond the scope of the law anyway, such an argument against passing any law at all becomes irrelevant.