“Justice Alito recounts all these disgusting video games in order to disgust us — but disgust is not a valid basis for restricting expression.”
— Justice Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, in the majority opinion of Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association that over-turned a California law restricting the access of children to violent video games. Scalia was responding to the argument by conservative colleague Joseph Alito, who described the wide range of violent and offensive experiences a child could have though video-gaming, such as reenacting the shootings at Columbine High School and Virginia Tech, raping Native American women or killing ethnic and religious minorities.
Scalia is the Supreme Court justice liberals love to hate, but he is the most stalwart defender of the First Amendment since Justice William O. Douglas and Justice Hugo Black on the Warren Court. As political warfare increasingly focuses on the tactic of suppressing and inhibiting speech and ideas rather than rebutting them, Scalia’s uniform rejection of any effort to squelch the free exchange of ideas, even disgusting ideas, is the last line of defense against government-imposed political correctness, nanny state thought control, and puritan censorship. While sufficiently important ends, such as protecting our children and our culture, may justify some extreme means, Scalia’s opinion reaffirms the core American principle that those means can never include government restriction of speech in its broadest definition.
Those who have suggested that Justice Scalia’s vote in support of unrestricted campaign advocacy by organizations in the much-reviled Citizens United case was motivated by political bias rather than dedication to principle ought to read his opinion here, and then send him a letter of apology. Every citizen’s liberty is more secure because this Justice refuses to regard the regulation of Free Speech as a legitimate tool of social or political engineering, regardless of the justification.