December 19, 2013

The Plantiff

Supreme Court Strikes Down California Law

The Supreme Court struck down a California law that banned the sale of violent video games to minors on June 27, 2011. The decision was a 7-2 majority. The justices struck down on the law because it infringed on the first amendment rights of minors for freedom of speech. California asked the Supreme Court to make a special exception for violent video games dealing with the first amendment, as it did for obscenity, pertaining to minors. Justice Scalia was opposed to the California law the most, as he believes that it is the guardian of the minor’s job to monitor what their children see and play, not the government’s. Justice Scalia also argued that if video games were banned for minors, the government would also have to ban all media that shows, discusses, or encourages violence, such as Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales. He also pointed out the fact that the makers of video games clearly rate the games by appropriate age groups. Justice Brown, on the other hand, disagrees. He argues that common sense should allow the government to protect people’s children from games and other media that is violent in nature. Violent video games in general have been the cause of a lot controversy in the news. In 1997, 14 year old Michael Cornell fired upon a group of classmates at Heath High School in West Paducah, KY. He was an avid player of “Mortal Combat” and “Doom”. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the Columbine shooters, were fans of “Wolfenstein 3D” and “Doom”, both weapon based games. Many argue that these video games influenced their violent behavior. Psychological studies have shown that minors exposed to violent video games can become immune to the violence they are shown and even imitate violent acts. A study done on 8th and 9th graders showed that there was a correlation between violent video game play and aggressive behaviors and attitudes in the children. Some argue, however, that violent video games can have a positive impact on minors, stating that the games serve as a healthy outlet for anger for the children who play them. They also argue that violent video games aren’t the cause of violent actions; rather, minors who are predisposed to violent behavior actively seek out violent entertainment. Whatever the case may be, violent video games have been deemed appropriate for minors to purchase by the government. Do you agree with their decision? Comment on our Facebook page to voice your opinion.

A Brief History on Marriage Equality in the US

The idea of same sex marriage has caused a huge controversy throughout the world, especially in America. Starting with the Baker v. Nelson case in 1972, The Supreme Court and other courts throughout the country denied gays the right to marry throughout the 1970s. It wasn’t until 1993 when the Hawaii Supreme Court stated in Baehr v. Lewin that the denial of same sex marriage by the state violated the Equal Protection Clause in their state constitution. Unfortunately, in 1998, anti-gay activists in the state were able to have the clause amended, and essentially leave Hawaii still standing on the denial of gay marriage. In 1996, President Clinton passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) into law, which mandated that legally married same sex couples be denied over 1,000 protections marriage has at the federal level. The tides turned for the better in the 1999 when California became the first state to create a domestic partner statute that gave same sex couples, some, but not all the rights married couples possess. Vermont also passed a similar law the same year. On May 17, 2004 Massachusetts became the first state to allow homosexuals to marry. Since then, there have been a number of laws passed for and against marriage, but as of now 16 states have legal same sex marriage and 33 ban it altogether.

Why We Need to Abolish the Death Penalty

The Death penalty is one of the most debated issues in the county, with some states banning capital punishment and others constantly sentencing prisoners to death. Here are 10 reasons why the death penalty needs to be abolished.

1. It costs more money to keep someone on death row than it does to keep someone in prison for life.

2. Since 1973 over 130 people have been exonerated from death row due to wrongful convictions, and many have been proven innocent after being executed.

3. A study has shown that a defendant was several times more likely to be sentenced to death if the murder victim was white.

4. The murder rate in states that have abolished the death penalty is lower than states that implement the death penalty.

5. The death penalty violates the 8th amendment, and although some argue that lethal injection is humane, many botched executions have left prisoners in pain for extended periods of time before they finally pass away.

6. Executing a prisoner causes pain for their family

7. Jurors can sentence a convict to life in prison which would keep him/her from killing again.

8. Almost all defendants being charged with a capital offense cannot afford to hire their own attorney

9. Families of victim's support alternative options of the death penalty

10. Being sentenced to death brings fame to the offender and sheds unwanted attention onto the victim's family

Juvenile Offender Avoids Jail Time because he has "Affluenza"

16 year old Ethan Couch was sentenced to one year at a rehabilitation center and 10 years probation after killing 4 people while drunk driving, using the defense that he had "affluenza" from his privileged life. Couch's lawyer Scott Brown and psychologist G. Dick Miller used the term affluenza to describe the lack of accountability rich kids have because of their belief that money can solve any issue. Their use of this argument placed the blame of Couch's actions at the feet of his parents, who apparently allowed Ethan to drink at the tender age of 13. Couch's defense team argued that his parents did not fulfill their responsibility of teaching their child discipline and responsibility for his own actions. Miller suggested that Couch not be jailed; instead, he recommended that he be sent to a rehabilitation facility away from his parents for a year. The judge agreed. Couch's father is shelling out the $450,000 to pay for his son's treatment.

Uyen's Opinion on Texting and Driving

Uyen Do, a fellow class mate, gave me her candid opinion about texting and driving.

Julia Denbaugh: "Have you ever texted while driving?"

Uyen Do: "I have before, and I regretted it."

J.D.: "Why did you regret texting while driving?"

U.D.: " I felt like I was endangering someone else's life."

J.D.: "So, judging from your statement, I would assume that you're against texting and driving."

U.D.: "Most definitely."

J.D.: "Uyen, do you think that texting and driving is safe?

U.D.: "No, not at all. It takes the driver's attention off the road and could cause an accident."

J.D.: "How strict do you think the law should be about texting and driving?"

U.D.: "I believe that the law should be stricter on texting and driving, especially because there is always potential for someone to hurt another when their eyes are off the road. I think there should be a higher fine and punishment for texting and driving than for speeding."

J.D.: "Thank you for your time!"