The library board in Paterson, New Jersey last month passed a measure that banned patrons from playing video games on library computers. Naturally, the National Coalition Against Censorship has something to say about this. In a letter to library director Cindy Czesak and library trustees, the NCAC wrote:
Video games are protected speech under the First Amendment and, as such, cannot be regulated or restricted by public officials in response to concerns about their message or content.
The library has not offered any sound justification for removing access to specific games. Instead, according to published reports, librarians are taking this action to “prevent our kids from learning these behaviors.’’ This assumes that viewers will simply imitate behaviors represented in fictional settings without any independent mental intermediation, a proposition that is palpably false and that the library implicitly rejects by offering access to all sorts of internet sites and maintaining a varied collection of books, magazines, videos and other materials.
It is no more acceptable for a library to ban access to certain kinds of video games than it would be to selectively remove other lawful materials. Library patrons,including young people, have a First Amendment right to make their own decisions about literature, art, informational materials, and entertainment without having those choices limited by the subjective views of library officials.
Boom. Those game-banning librarians just got served in the best way possible: by the constitution. It remains to be seen whether they'll redact their free speech-hating ways.