Jack Thompson. You may or may not have heard of the man. He's an attourney who's been leading the charge against violent video games for years. And he is insane.
His recent attacks on Rockstar Games over their game Grand Theft Auto and its Hot Coffee Mod have been in the news quite a bit of late. His views here are ones that I certainly don't agree with, but I wouldn't categorize them as insane.
What I'd categorize as his insanity began when he attacked The Sims 2. Now, I've never had any interest in any of The Sims games, but his claims that the game featured detailed nudity concelaed behind blur censors which were easily removable were ridiculous, and turned out to be complete BS.
Then, a couple months ago, he contacted the NYPD and the FBI to investigate a buddy icon that featured himself. That buddy icon can be viewed here. He claimed to be terrified about the "threat on his life". Even after the icon was removed from the website, he continued to press the police to arrest this "criminal". (source) This prompted me to draw my own little picture, and wonder whether I'd get arrested. Image doctored from a Homestar Runner cartoon.
Most recently, our friend Jack sent another open letter to members of the press and ESA president, Doug Lowenstein. In it, he proposes that if someone "create, manufacture, distribute, and sell a video game in 2006" that allows players to play the scenario he has written, he will donate $10,000 to the charity of Take Two's chairman Paul Eibeler's choosing, but development could cost millions. His proposal is thus:
Osaki Kim is the father of a high school boy beaten to death with a baseball bat by a 14-year-old gamer. The killer obsessively played a violent video game in which one of the favored ways of killing is with a bat. The opening scene, before the interactive game play begins, is the Los Angeles courtroom in which the killer is sentenced "only" to life in prison after the judge and the jury have heard experts explain the connection between the game and the murder.
Osaki Kim (O.K.) exits the courtroom swearing revenge upon the video game industry whom he is convinced contributed to his son's murder. "Vengeance is mine, I will repay" he says. And boy, is O.K. not kidding.
O.K. is provided in his virtual reality playpen a panoply of weapons: machetes, Uzis, revolvers, shotguns, sniper rifles, Molotov cocktails, you name it. Even baseball bats. Especially baseball bats.
O.K. first hops a plane from LAX to New York to reach the Long Island home of the CEO of the company (Take This) that made the murder simulator on which his son's killer trained. O.K. gets "justice" by taking out this female CEO, whose name is Paula Eibel, along with her husband and kids. "An eye for an eye," says O.K., as he urinates onto the severed brain stems of the Eibel family victims, just as you do on the decapitated cops in the real video game Postal2.
O.K. then works his way, methodically back to LA by car, but on his way makes a stop at the Philadelphia law firm of Blank, Stare and goes floor by floor to wipe out the lawyers who protect Take This in its wrongful death law suits. "So sue me" O.K. spits, with singer Jackson Brown's 1980's hit Lawyers in Love blaring.
With the FBI now after him, O.K. keeps moving westward, shooting up high-tech video arcades called GameWerks. "Game over," O.K. laughs.
Of course, O.K. makes the obligatory runs to virtual versions of brick and mortar retailers Best Buy, Circuit City, Target, and Wal-Mart to steal supplies and bludgeon store managers and cash register clerks. "You should have checked kids' IDs!"
O.K. pushes on to Los Angeles. He must get there by May 10, 2006. That is the beginning of "E3" -- the Electronic Entertainment Expo -- the Super Bowl of the video game industry. O.K. must get to E3 to massacre all the video game industry execs with one final, monstrously delicious rampage.
I don't have the time to cite all the ridiculous behaviors I've seen in news articles around the web, but Wikipedia's "Correspondance" and "Typical Arguments" sections cover it pretty well.
Just today, Thompson was sent an open letter from America's National Institute on Media and the Family, asking him to no longer claim that they support him. (source)
Your commentary has included extreme hyperbole and your tactics have included personally attacking individuals for whom I have a great deal of respect... Some of the people that you have publicly criticised are not only people of integrity, but are people who have worked to improve the lives of children.
Maybe this idiot is finally losing credibility.
You know what, Jack? We're going to be the men you're not. You said that your insulting, illusory ten thousand dollars would go to the charity of Paul Eibler's choice. We've got a good guess that he'd direct your nonexistant largesse toward The Entertainment Software Association Foundation, a body that has raised over six point seven million dollars over the last eight years. We've just made the donation you never would, and never meant to. Ten thousand dollars' worth. And we made it in your name.
John B. Thompson, Attorney at Law
1172 South Dixie Hwy., Suite 111
Coral Gables, Florida 33146
October 20, 2005
Alan B. Bookman
The Florida Bar
Tallahassee, Florida Via e-mail
Entire Board of Governors
The Florida Bar
C/o John Harkness and to Governors Directly
The Florida Bar
Tallahassee, Florida Via e-mails
Re: Targeting of Jack Thompson for Criminal Harassment by "Gamers"
Dear Mr. Bookman and All Governors of The Florida Bar:
As you know, eighteen years ago I commenced efforts against the entertainment industry's illegal distribution of adult entertainment to minors. That fledgling effort resulted in the first decency fines ever levied by the FCC.
The broadcasters struck back with Bar complaints. One happy result of that is that The Bar's insurance carrier had to pay me money damages for The Bar's having taken the bait offered by the SLAPP bar complainants. SLAPP is the acronym for "strategic litigation against public participation." Filing such a complaint violates certain federal civil rights statutes and state laws as well.
As you also know, the Philadelphia law firm of Blank Rome, which is lead lawyer and chief lobbyist registered in the US House of Representatives and in the US Senate for Take-Two Interactive, has chosen to use the SLAPP approach in our wrongful death case in Alabama by asking the Alabama state judge to kick me off that case because 1) I have been so effective in telling the American people about the reckless activity of their clients, Take-Two and Sony, through 60 Minutes and Reader's Digest that they can't now get a "fair trial," and 2) I have a "colorful history" of pornographers filing SLAPP bar complaints against me, which indicates I am unfit to practice law.
Interesting logic, but remember: this is Blank Rome talking. Blank Rome has a very long history of "opposition research" through partners such as "Barbara Comstock," who was called by the Washington Post a "one-woman wrecking crew" for her brilliance in character assassination on behalf of her clients.
Blank Rome's Comstock is the US Congressman Dan Burton staffer who was doing his "work" for him when he was clandestinely keeping a mistress on his federal payroll staff in violation of federal law.
Blank Rome also has been recently caught up in the scandal of securing Department of Homeland Security contracts for its clients allegedly because of its massive campaign contributions to former DHS Secretary Tom Ridge, Bush-Cheney, and the RNC. This has been covered in the mainstream media. Blank Rome is clearly the most powerful law firm, right now, in America, because of its tight personal and financial relationships with Jeb and George Bush. Blank Rome likes to make stuff up to run over people who are in the way of their clients. Pretty standard stuff, really. But don't you love the fact that a bunch of "family values" Republican loyalists to George Bush are representing Take-Two/Rockstar and fraudulently smearing a conservative Christian Republican who has got Rockstar on the run? But this is wha the GOP has become: the lap dog for corporate America, the parents who provide the party's base be damned.
I hear today, then, from the Internet-based "enthusiast video game press" that "gamers" are going to file or have filed new SLAPP Bar complaints against me. Here's why:
An outfit in Seattle called "Think Geek" is marketing a t-shirt emblazoned across the front of which are the words "I Hate Jack Thompson." That kind of tells us where they are on the subject of me.
The parent company is an outfit called Penny Arcade. In the last several days, the folks at Think Geek provided, improperly, Penny Arcade with my email address, which had not been widely circulated (I had to get rid of the last one because of death threats and the like). Some idiot at Penny Arcade foolishly emailed me and told me, in effect, of the amusement that comes from going after me, and then he foolishly explained on the Penny Arcade site how they were going to do it.
Penny Arcade put out a "news story" that was wholly false, and the purpose of it, of course, was to generate the sort of Internet-based gamers harassment of me that has caused me to coin the useful phrase "pixelante." Blank Rome is just a highly-paid pixelante. I was not getting this harassment at my new e-mail address until Penny Arcade did this.
The result of Penny Arcade's intentional targeting of me is that I almost immediately started receiving emailed and phoned death threats, many of them referencing Penny Arcade. Penny Arcade has every right to express their warped bizarre opinions, but they don't have the right to use the Internet to orchestrate criminal harassment of me, which is precisely what they did.
I asked to speak with their attorney, which I did yesterday, and this guy is a perfect fit with Penny Arcade, because his position is that this is all my fault.
I have written the Police Chief in Seattle and asked that their department investigate this matter, as I believe this constitutes a criminal act by Penny Arcade. Penny Arcade has thus ramped up the harassment, and now there is a campaign among gamers to go to The Florida Bar to "discipline" me for trying to protect myself and my family, as well as my right, under the First Amendment to try to get the video game industry to start acting like something other than a bunch of sociopaths.
I was on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 two nights ago because there is now a new game out in which pro footballers send prostitutes to the other team's players' hotel rooms. Quaint stuff. I think I have a right to complain about that, which CNN wanted me to do when they contacted me. Anderson Cooper was more negative about it than I was. I am making progress.
But I especially appreciated the computer-generated call last night that said "We are coming to get you, Mr. Thompson." This is from the Penny Arcade faithful. That is precisely what Penny Arcade wanted, and I have received similar computer-generated calls threatening me.
I am quite certain that lawyer Daniel Horowitz would advise me to take such threats seriously, aren't you?
Several weeks ago some gamer idiot (sorry to be redundant) managed to email me thousands of death threats from a blast e-mail service based in Ireland using the following e-mail address: email@example.com. The Secret Service shut that pixelante right down. It's probably too much to expect the Secret Service to shut Blank Rome down. That's a joke, by the way.
Now, let me be clear. Any Bar complaint coming from these morons arising out of the above incident is baseless and itself constitutes a violation of a specific federal civil rights statute.
If The Bar proceeds with any of these, it does so at its own peril. The Bar paid me once. I am certainly willing it pay me again, along with others.
Regards, Jack Thompson