When Protecting Rights is Deemed “Bad.”

Our good friend Steve Bussey over at has a different take on the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association than we do here at Raised On Hoecakes.

His essay, is, as always, passionate in demonstrating his beliefs. Unfortunately, it is wrong on several issues.

Steve comes right out of the box and claims,

Well, now little Johnny can look daddy square in the eye and tell him to shut the hell up with the backing of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, what the ruling did was not only to acknowledge the parental rights to raise a child as the parent sees fit. The ruling tells the state to stay out of it. “Little Johnny” is still subject to the rules and discipline of his father. What the court is saying is that as a parent, the government does not have the right to tell you how to raise your child.

Why Steve believes that government putting their stamp of approval on how you raise your child is a good thing is unclear, but on this case he is siding with nanny state liberals.

I believe the Supreme Court has waded into a dangerous swamp with their ruling Monday that California cannot ban the sale or rental of ultra-violent video games to minor children.

This is a factual error. As part of the ruling, the Supreme Court indicated that the law itself was somewhat vague and overly broad. In fact, the Court says that what is a “violent game,” (not “ultra violent” as Steve contends) is based on what the government believes – not what you as a parent believe. I would never say that historically accurate “first person shooter” games are bad for a child of a certain age. Yet the California law would have taken that decision from my hands and determined that my judgment for my child and as a parent is wrong.

Where does such overreaching authority come from?

Certainly not the Constitution.

Steve continues,

The ideas to which a child is exposed is the sole purview of the parent, and American parents rightly express their will through their various levels of government.

This is a contradiction. If the ideas to which a child is exposed is the sole purview of the parent, then the government has no business in telling parents what is right and wrong. None.

But Steve believes that the government should respond to “people expressing their will through various levels of government.”

That would be called the “tyranny of the majority” and is contrary to the principles upon which this country is founded.

For example, Steve has talked about how horrible it is that people want to regulate what kids eat. A case can be made where a child not eating properly is harming the child, and therefore the state has to “protect” the child. But Steve is against that type of regulation.

Parents – the same parents that Steve says should have a say in what video games are sold – have lined up to say “don’t feed kids fast food!”

What is the difference? From Steve’s point of view, there is no practical difference. Bans on both video games and fast food are parents “expressing their will to government.”

Therefore we ask “why is he for one ban and not the other?”

However, there is a real difference that Steve has not recognized – video games pose no threat of harm to children other than a lack of physical activity. Fast food does pose a threat. The question is then “does the state have a duty to ‘protect’ children when there is a threat of harm? When there is no threat of harm?”

If Steve wants to advocate that the state cannot and should not interfere with a parent’s purview to raise their child on the issue of “harmful” fast food, he cannot now say that he wants the state to interfere on what is an activity that does not harm the child. Well, he can say it, but it is hypocritical. He further states that no child is denied anything if they get their parent’s approval on purchasing the game. This too is wrong because the child is denied the approved time and place mandate the parent has laid down. If the parent says “Jimmy, you did great in school this year, now go and buy whatever game you want,” who is Steve or the state to tell a parent that is wrong? Who is Steve or the state to say that the parent must go with the child to “prove” and “verify” the parent’s choice?

This Supreme Court ruling is yet another one of those slippery slopes that liberals will now use to drive the wedge ever deeper between child and parent.

This is a case where the Supreme Court should have just recognized that parents exercise the political will and civil rights of their children and those parents decided legitimately through their duly elected representatives to restrict the ability of those children to buy – not prohibit entirely – a certain consumer product which is completely within the purview of parents in a democratic society.

The wedge is already between parents and children and despite protestations to the contrary, upholding the law would have driven the wedge in further.

As we have stated previously, parents, through their duly elected representatives, pushed for bans on fast foods. Parents, through their duly elected representatives, pushed through sex ed courses. Parents, through their duly elected representatives, pushed through laws requiring that schools teach as acceptable lifestyles which the parents of some found objectionable. I know that Steve disagrees with all of those laws, but yet here he is making the baffling claim that the government has the right to decide the issue of a purchase of a harmless video game.

This decision returns choices in child rearing back to the parents and removes the state and others who “know better” from telling you how to raise your child.

We cannot understand and will never understand why anyone would think that having the state decide what is appropriate for my child is a good thing.

6 Responses to “When Protecting Rights is Deemed “Bad.””

  1. Steve Bussey says:

    Sorry, the ruling tells children that they have unencumbered 1st Amendment rights. If that doesn’t mean Little Johnny can tell his daddy to pee up a rope without retaliation from daddy and with the backing of the Supreme Court then you’re going to have to argue that the court – the state – can put limitations on Little Johnny’s speech.

    Also, your premise, as well as the Supreme Court’s premise, is flawed because it presumes that children have, or ever had historically, unencumbered “civil rights.” They don’t and they never have. That is not to say they don’t have natural human rights – they do – but they have never had unencumbered civil rights in that their rights have always been tied to and exercised by their parents throughout history.

    This is brand new.

    • AAfterwit says:

      The ruling does not say that the child has “unencumbered First Amendment rights.” That is a claim that is not supported by the ruling.

      The ruling says that the First Amendment rights of the companies are violated when the state created a new class of restrictions that do not apply on other, similarly themed materials. The ruling also goes on to state that the parents have the right to determine what is appropriate for their child without government interference or roadblocks.

      You keep trying to make this ruling out to be something that it is not.

      Furthermore, even if one would agree to your premise, you make the point that the ruling is correct when you say,

      their rights have always been tied to and exercised by their parents throughout history

      As that is the case, the state has to have a compelling reason within the framework of the Constitution to step on the parent’s exercise of those rights. California can not show that compelling reason and frankly, neither have you.

      That is why the ruling is correct.

  2. Steve Bussey says:

    Oh, and I guess it’s a matter of symantics – you say a child’s right was protected when they never actually had the right, and I say the parental rights were protected. Not completely of course, as nothing ever is, in that any adult could go buy the game for the kid, but there is more protection of the parental right with that California law than before it. The chld’s right that you claim was protected never existed in the first place.

    • AAfterwit says:

      I say the parental rights were protected

      We agree that the parent’s rights were protected. So why are you arguing for the state to be allowed to attack those rights? That is what I cannot understand. You make the point that the parents are responsible for the kids and then think the state has the right to take that responsibility away.

      The chld’s right that you claim was protected never existed in the first place.

      I don’t believe I ever claimed the child’s rights were violated. That is something that I believe that you got from the Huffington post and ran with. It is a nice strawman argument, but it doesn’t apply to this case.

  3. Steve Bussey says:

    The excerpts I’m about to provide are from a different context nut deal with the issues of parental and civil rights. I maintain the California law prohibiting children from buing “ultra-violent” video games did not violate the child’s civil rights because children don’t have, and never had 1st Amendment rights absent their parents.

    Rather, the California law simply aided parents in raising their children in that it caused the child to get the permission or assistance of the parent, or at least another adult, to purchase the video games. The parent still had the authority and autonomy from the state, to decide to allow their child to have those games. Remember, if children have unfettered adult-style 1st Amendment rights separate from their parents then they can chose to reject their parents’ religion and church going also.

    Here is the link and the quotes that I believe support my proposition that children did not and do not have “civil rights” absent and separate from their parents:

    The primary adult civil right this paper addresses is the right to rear children, a right fundamental to membership in a liberal democracy.10 Professor Peggy Cooper Davis has demonstrated how the right to rear children was, and still is, integral to the freedoms and protections contemplated by the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments.11

    I too have explored the political role of parental rights and their centrality to liberal democracy which places the creation of moral value (within liberal parameters) in private, not public, hands. Parents thus have a fundamental right to rear their children according to private values and the state is prohibited from interfering with individual families based on a disagreement about those values as they relate to the child’s interests.

    Indeed, a well-rehearsed line of United States Supreme Court cases embraces this connection between parental and civil rights.19 These cases have established that parental rights are so fundamental that they demand special protections against undue state interference or termination.20

    These protections are warranted, in part, because of the awesome resources of the state, particularly against impoverished parents who cannot marshal the same resources or expertise in proving parental worthiness.21 The private interest at stake here is the relationship between parent and child that the state has no interest in disrupting unless the parent is unable or unfit to maintain the child.22

    • AAfterwit says:

      Okay. Let me repeat myself. This decision did not hinge or even examine “child’s rights.” Therefore, your references to “child rights” is a strawman at best.

      In both the decision and the dissent, all justices agreed that the right to raise a child, the ideas they would see, be exposed to, etc, all rest with the parent. There is no discussion about that so I cannot fathom why you are constantly referring to something that doesn’t exist to “prove” a point that is not in dispute.

      Rather, the California law simply aided parents in raising their children in that it caused the child to get the permission or assistance of the parent

      The law didn’t “simply” do anything of the sort. The law restricted the sale of an item that has no harm to a legal customer and overrode a parental decision.

      The argument that “it helps parents” is not compelling because the law would have forced all parents – even the ones who did not want or ask for “government assistance,” – to abide by the regulation. If one were to use your “logic” that “government assistance in helping raise children” is good, then why are you against restrictions of what parents can feed children, ie fast food? Why are you against teaching homosexuality in elementary schools? After all, parents have “asked for assistance” in the area of sex ed, so why the difference?

      Your own resource puts another nail in your argument:

      The private interest at stake here is the relationship between parent and child that the state has no interest in disrupting unless the parent is unable or unfit to maintain the child

      Are you really trying to say that all parents are unable or unfit to maintain a child?

      That is when the state can step in according to your own cite. Even then, they cannot step in en masse and rip all kids away from parents.

      You have railed against children being taught in schools that which their parents do not want, yet you are now siding with the government in saying that the wishes of a parent must be approved and verified by a clerk at a store?


      The fact of the matter is that until there is a compelling reason for the government to intervene or step into the parent / child relationship, they must stay away. No one believes that “help” is a compelling reason. No one believes that because you cannot raise your children without “help” in making these decisions requires the government to make the decisions for me and my children.

      If you want, you are free to give your parental rights away.

      You aren’t free to give the parental rights of others away.