Earlier this month, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation removed arcade games like Time Crisis and Beach Head 2000 from its state rest stops following December's Newtown, CT school shooting. While the usual industry trade groups have been largely silent on the subject, the National Coalition Against Censorship questioned the action in a letter to state transportation secretary Richard Davey yesterday.
In the letter, NCAC executive director Joan Bertin expressed concern over the pulling of the games, noting the 2011 Supreme Court decision holding that state regulation of violent games is unconstitutional. Bertin said pulling the games was "equally constitutionally problematic," and was concerned at the idea of the games being removed after a single complaint.
"There is no legitimate state interest that could be asserted to justify removing specific games to appease the sensibilities of certain motorists," Bertin wrote. "Moreover, by caving to the demands of one passer-by, the Department will inevitably invite others to register complaints about material they deem inappropriate. It is not a stretch to imagine someone demanding a ban on certain DVDs, magazines, or books. Perhaps other travelers will think it is inappropriate to broadcast news about war or crime, or other televised content. 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."
The NCAC is a group of more than 50 non-profit organizations spanning entertainers, writers, teachers, religious and secular groups, and more. The association was founded in 1974, sparked by the previous year's Miller v. California US Supreme Court ruling, which found that materials deemed obscene were not protected by the First Amendment right to free speech.