The National Coalition Against Censorship has fired back at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation for removing a string of "violent" games from rest stops earlier this month. The games--including Time Crisis and Beach Head 2000--were removed following complaints by parents and just a month after the deadly shooting in Connecticut.
Executive director Joan Bertin's letter to the Massachusetts D.O.T. points out that games are protected free speech under the First Amendment and therefore cannot be regulated or restricted by state officials. She specifically mentioned the 2011 high-profile Supreme Court ruling as evidence.
"The Department's action in removing certain games because some people object to their message or content is equally constitutionally problematic. There is no legitimate state interest that could be asserted to justify removing specific games to appease the sensibilities of certain motorists."
Bertin added that by removing the games from rest stops, the Department is treading a slippery slope that could lead to other complaints. She said it is no stretch to imagine a person demanding certain DVDs, magazines, or books be banned.
"It is no more acceptable for the Department to remove certain kinds of video games than it would be to selectively remove other materials in rest stops and concessions because some motorists find something in them objectionable," she said.
Bertin concluded her statement saying it is unfair to single out video games, noting that no one is forcing anyone to play the games at rest stops.
"Video games, like other forms of media and entertainment, do not appeal to every individual. What some may feel is perfectly fine may not be right for all," she said. "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."