Washington Post: "Bully" Ruling a "Major Coup" for Jack Thompson

October 12, 2006 -
"A major coup..."

That's how Washington Post reporter Mike Musgrove characterized Jack Thompson's Bully win yesterday in a Florida courtroom.

"My view is that the game potentially impinges on public safety," Thompson told Musgrove. "I'm pretty sure that the game is harmful to minors."

Representatives of the video game industry defendants did not respond to the WaPo's request for comment.

In other coverage, the Miami Herald, which had a reported in attendance, offered insight into Judge Ronald Friedman's take on Bully.

According to the newspaper, Judge Friedman told the court that he needed to see how violent the game was before rendering a decision. Surprisingly, Friedman said that, while he could not change the ESRB rating, Bully "may be so bad that something has to be done.''

Thompson - accurately - called Judge Friedman's order unprecedented:
''I'm not aware of a judge ever ordering the production of a game prior to its release for any reason."

Judge Frieman also admonished an attorney representing Wal-Mart to have the mega-retailer reconsider sales to minors if he - Judge Friedman - decides it should carry a mature rating.

Wal-Mart exec John Simley told the Herald, ''There's no question we would do exactly that."


I wish Florida would just go away.

@ Xsorus
The thing to keep in mind is that the First Amendment is not absolute. For instance, it is illegal to yell "Fire!" in a crowded room. It's illegal to threaten someone with violence or death. There are situations where the First Amendment can be overturned.
That being said, even if the game let you cut six year old girls in half with a chainsaw, unless upon playing the game, the judge suddenly discovers some incontrovertible proof that the game will be directly responsible for an increase in violence, I really don't see what he feels he might find that would actually warrant this investigation.
To be honest, I don't like this judge. He's allowed to disagree with the ESRB's ruling, but no more than I am. He has no right to tell Wal-Mart that they should reconsider their sales just because he thinks the game is too violent for teenagers.

Wish I could say it was a suprise, but the WaPo has been as anti game as any media outlet in the country, so this is hardly as suprise. What I hope is that when the judge rules for Take 2, they slap a counter suit on thompsons ass so fast that he doesn't even get to leave the court house.

On a side note, thompson said he expected an Appeal to the Third district appeals court of something, any news on that?


Not to sound thick but wouldn't the Judge have to see the product in order to make a decision. How is that a Major Coup? Its common sense!

Coup? So he is trying to abolish our freedoms and rights to install his communist regime I take it?

“I’m pretty sure that the game is harmful to minors.”

And I am pretty sure this is a waste of time.

This is such bullcrap, if it were violent enough to get a mature rating, it would of gotten one.

So Jack gets lucky and manages to score a judge more interested in politics than law. Nice for him, I suppose. This worries me, however:

"Judge Frieman also admonished an attorney representing Wal-Mart to have the mega-retailer reconsider sales to minors if he - Judge Friedman - decides it should carry a mature rating.

Wal-Mart exec John Simley told the Herald, ‘’There’s no question we would do exactly that.”

Wal-Mart would actually agree to abide by a judge's interference with a private organization in a moral, not legal matter? The judge actually thinks he can force the ESRB to make a change to the game's ESRB rating? Excuse me?

Florida taxpayers' money being awarded to Rockstar and ESRB in a lawsuit on appeal for the win.

Dagrak - its Jack, he takes anything as a victory, no matter how minor it is (rememebr his gloating over GPs changed answer phone message!)

I couldn't care less about the grandstanding. What else does one expect of sensationalism?

However, more and more, the judge appears significantly biased. As I did in a comment in a previous article, I continue to question the ethics and fairness of this judge.

As to the "harmful to minors" ignorance... I've already made a number of comments of certain other things -I- could argue were harmful to minors and should be kept out of their hands or keep minors away from. That opinion still has not changed. More and more, though, it does grow stronger.

NW2K Software

Night wing

If He is biased, doesn't take 2 have some sorta legal recourse on that? Like ask him to recuse himself or something?

It really shouldn't matter, Take 2 should just apeal this, get it thrown out, slap a counter suit on jack and make sure he never works again by bankrupting his pathetic hack ass.

But thats just me.


"Judge Friedman - decides it should carry a mature rating."

Great. so it appears that this case will be decided by the moral stance of a judge and not by the 1st amendment.

Great, this is going to go up a court.

The thing I find funny is...I see all this negative press about Bully, but I find myself not entirely feeling anything on the matter one way or the other.

Mainly because Bully looks like a stupid game idea to me. *shrug*

I literally lost an entire night's sleep over this. The fact that the judge wants to see the game means this case is actually moving forward other than being thrown out day one. I can't believe it- I've played games since I was a child, worked in the industry whenever I could, and now get to see the potential for it all to be reduced to a shadow of what it could be.

This is just stupid.

I'd say this is more of a victory for gaming than it is for JT and Co. The judge is actually demanding to see exactly what the fuss is about, with his own eyes. Not through presentations in the courtroom that show only what the lawyers think will help their case, but through actually watching someone go through the entire game.

As pointed out in the ruling, neither side's legal team will be able to comment or interrupt the play-through for the judge. Finally, they're bypassing all the ignorant, alarmist nonsense and actually considering the game on its own.

And let's not forget that it's actually got a T rating. If this really had anything that would be so foul that it would constitute a "public menace," wouldn't it have at least rated an M?

Mark my words. This is going to be a huge loss for Thompson, and hopefully (FINALLY) strip him of the iota of credibility he still has in someone's eyes.

The tough part is, at this point the case HAS to result in a resounding loss for the prosecution. The judge might, after looking at the game, decide that the T rating is good and fair, but the precedent will exist for someone to examine every game and determine if it's 'suitable.'
Unless the final ruling comes with a harsh rebuking for anyone who wants to legislate morality at the cost of the 1st Amendment, this could be messy.

'Plaintiff' is perhaps a better word for prosecution in above post - hey, terminology errors happen.

Don't underestimate the enemy.

It's pretty clear that this isn't going to stop, or even result in any delays for Bully. Everybody here seems pretty much in agreement.

So, don't you think JT reaslies this as well?

Banning Bully isn't what he wants to do. At least not at this stage. He's got bigger plans than that. This is just a strategic move.

The problem is that its not the judges job to decide the suitability of the T rating. He has no right and that judgement will determine the outcome of the case, not the 1st amendment.

I find it funny that the Miami Herald advertises X rated videogames on their site.

Yay for ads by google.

That quote from Jack Boy is the best thing I've seen in this whole thing.

“I’m pretty sure that the game is harmful to minors.”

I can't just hear other thoughts in his head: "Wait, what if I'm wrong? I'll look like a complete idiot."

Here's hoping, sir.

^ 'X-rated games'? Oh dear god.

On another note, Jack reminds me of that Christian ass-lady from "Donnie Darko". She rants on about how 'this pornography' (I.E. books like "Lord Of The Flies" and "The Destructors") should be banned, and, although she thinks she has the whole world backing her up, save for a minority of 'dumb' people, she actually has everyone laughing at her, and is just too damn stupid to see that.

Does the judge have the authourity to change Bully's rating?

"In the PlayStation 2 game titled Bully, set to be released nationwide Tuesday, the goal is to bully other students, including giving students swirlies by dunking their heads into toilets or using slingshots and bats as weapons."

Wow, that's objective.

@Zippy: No, he does not have that authority. The ESRB isn't government regulated and the ratings themselves are not backed by any legislation. The judge could no more change Bully's ratings than he could change an MPAA rating.

Well, here I am in Florida, a regular citizen, unable to do anything but write a letter to my newspaper that would get laughed at, join the video game voters network, that has not brought up anything about this, & send an email to whatever politician, for it to be ignored.

Bully looks like a good game to me. The closest games that have anything like it is perhaps Spellcasters 101, The Adventures of Willy Beamish, and some Japanese dating games (without the sex & nudity). Even if Bully ends up flat, there's no doubt that this publicity will generate sales. And I will buy a copy and let my kid play it, just out of principle.

If the absolute worse case scenario occurs, expect more to follow. Censorship is best served on quantity, not reasoning.

Let' s just hope that the judge is specifically told what content makes a game M rated.

Any normal judge would've asked: "And you base your assumptions on what counselor?" and that would've ended the case right there! Jack Thompson only has his twisted little mind as evidence.

Now Jack and the judge will be embarrased!

Is being pretty sure of something you know nothing about a good enough to warrant legal harassment of a company?

I don't understand the fuss. The judge askign to see the game is a non-starter, IMHO. It has been alleged to be a public nuisance. We may disagree with that, but in order to give fairtreatment to both sides, the judge would have to see what it is. As much as we'd like the judge to tell JT to go away, both sides are allowed due process.

thompson plans to make the judge see every single moment of gameplay there is to offer? i'd love to see how long that would take. hopefully take 2 included some epic sidequest of final fantasy proportions.

who else can see thompson finally throwing down the controller in disgust 36 hours after he starts playing for the judge shreiking "where's the violence and the sex that's supposed to be there?! your honor, i tell you this is not the final version of the game! take 2 should be held in contempt!"

Here: “My view is that the game potentially impinges on public safety. [...] I’m pretty sure that the game is harmful to minors.”

Elsewhere in his campaign, he is demanding to be sent a copy of the game so that he can see what it's like. Meaning he hasn't played it yet, or seen it in action in person. But he's still "pretty sure" it's harmful.

Wait, what did I just say? The game is harmful to minors? Am I reading that right? Isn't it actually the case that the game may (theoretically) incite behaviour from a player that is harmful to minors? Because unless it is released on a particularly sharp disc made of asbestos, the game itself cannot be used to hurt anyone.

I fired off an email to the writer for the Miami Herald correcting their article. It's going to be great when the lawyers for Walmart, Take-Two, and Sony take Thompson's ass to court to get their legal fees.

It's all tactical.
If Take Two says "We question your ethics and feel you need to be recused", that'll take time. Whether the judge can place an injunction on the release immediately, which could be seen as "retaliation", until the matter is resolved, then John Bruce "succeeds" in delaying Bully.

The 100 hour play time may also end up requiring Bully to be delayed. Another claim of "success".

The fact that the Oct 17 date of release has been on the table for at least since July (in June, I think it was a generic release date of October), implies that this suit was tactically filed to prompt, one way or another, a delay, and therefore a "success" can't be counted out either.

Whether John Bruce knew or at least had a wild guess whether he would get a sympathetic, possibly biased judge in his favor, we can only guess.

The fact is, this judge is showing signs of bias on several counts, whether by plan or design we can only speculate. Take Two has to play the cards they are dealt and consider all probabilities. Would it be in their best interest to accept a delay for whatever reason? Or would it be better and risk accepting the bias of the judge in hopes that facts will win him over?

While stories don't agree, if Take Two offered the judge the opportunity to witness the game, then it may be their attempt to press the issue to a quicker resolution, and hope for the best.

NW2K Software

I hate double posting, but I was just hit with an unusual mental image.

Jack is like a maladjusted kid playing in a fishpond. He stands tall over the water, occasionally throwing in rocks and disturbing the flow and laughing maniacally at all the fish that scramble around. He thinks he's in control because he's the one throwing the rocks, but there's no control involved. He just introduces the stimulus and thinks he is responsible for the resulting chaos. He's bigger and smarter than the stupid fish, but he can't make them do what he wants. He just makes them move around to avoid the flak as they try to live their lives in peace.

The worst thing about it is, the fish are quite happy doing their fishy things. He's the one out of his element, splashing around in a pond and getting soggy ankles.


I completely and utterly disagree. Bully is a game for a home console. Outside of demo stands, it will simply not be a public issue - it will be an entirely private one. Unless one buys into the idea that video games directly affect behaviour (an extremely thinly supported hypothesis, to say the least), no judge has any business evaluating the content of a game to see if it would constitute a public nuisance.

G-Dog: If Florida goes away I won't get any more 8-bit Theater!

Matthew: Best... mental... image... EVER.

Jack may lose the case, but he has won another battle in his war against videogames. Now Judge's all over will start to review games based on this case. I don't put all the blame on Jack, though, since the ESA is equally at fault for not suing the crap out of Thompson and ending his anti-videogame career long ago. I wonder if the ESA will continue to twiddle their thumbs or finally go on the offensive and make sure this anti-videogame BS ends here and now.

Who does this judge think he's kidding? "I can't rewrite the ESRB rating, but I can sure as heck apply my own, even though I know damn well it'll get overturned..."
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

I already said this in yesterdays post on this and I'll say it again, this is in no way a victory for jack. The judge wants to see what all the hoopla is about and considering that he needs to make a ruling on the content of the game this is expected. There has yet to be an actual ruling. My concerns are what I read on Destructoid concerning the lawyers on the defense. I don't know if it was the Wal-Mart lawyer or not who was basically backing up thompson's vitriol like the crap about Force Feedback. If it was the lawyers brought by Take-Two, then these lawyers are incredibly incompetent.

“I’m pretty sure that the game is harmful to minors.”

Hasn't Jack been going on about how it "will be harmful," and that he has "proof," but now he's just pretty sure.

A lot of people don't seem to understand why this is such a bad thing. Many have asked, "How could the judge rule without seeing the game first?" The question I have is, how could he not? Because the content of Bully is not the issue; it's actually irrelevant.

The very fact that he is looking at Bully means he is implying that free speech can be overturned by a judge's personnal whim.

Consider, for example, if some extreme anti-Christian decided he wanted to ban the bible from Florida, and he decided to use the public nuisance law to do so. And it turns out that the case goes before a judge that has never read the bible.

What would you want the judge to do in such a case? Shouldn't the judge just throw out the case right away, as it clearly violates freedom of speech? Or would you want the judge to demand a copy of the bible first, to read for himself, so that HE can determine whether it needs to be banned, or at least have some restrictions placed on it's sale?

Even if you aren't a Christian, I think most of you can see the lunacy of that idea, and what it would lead to.

I'm not trying to imply that Bully is somehow the same as the bible; however, in the eyes of the law, there's not that much difference. They are both forms of speech that are supposed to be protected by the law. And if a judge can decide that a game like Bully can be banned based soley on the ideas and images expressed within it, than ANY form of speech can be censored or banned.

Thompson told Musgrove. “I’m pretty sure that the game is harmful to minors.”

and I'm pretty sure it's not, therefore I win.

Also: I love the way you make it sound that thompson's been a liar in the past dennis.

Also2: Walmart exec ass kissing: check.


Not so much a liar, but JT has been know to inaccurately quote studies, judges, laws, court cases, events, conversations, etc.

Case in point is the Secret Service study. The way JT talks about it, you'd think the SS agreed that violent games is the #1 common influential factor in school shootings. But that's not true, violent game obsession is present only in 12% of shooters. The #1 common indicating factor? Their own personal violent writings/journals/poetry/etc. But even the SS says that's not a very good indicator, because many non-violent authors write the same things...
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

It's 4pm.

I wonder if TT got a copy to the judge in time. If so, I wonder if they started playing the game today.

NW2K Software

Same here. Fingers crossed for TT.

I wonder if the Judge is enjoying the show?

While I still disagree with Mr. Thompson on his methodologies, I think that we can all agree that violents games (i.e. those rated M and the like) really don't belong in any child's library of titles.

That being said, initially I was irritated about the judge's ruling to have the game played in his chambers. However, having thought about it now I've come to the conclusion that it was, in fact, the right move. I've heard from people that live in Miami that while most of the judges there are older and conservative, they also tend to be fair in their rulings and very much into proper fact finding and knowing about all parites involved. We don't want this case to be summarily judged with no actual facts being brought in. In order to get a fair ruling material from the game must be seen so that the judge can do his job properly.

Again, it does not matter what the judge thinks, HIS OPINION IS MOOT.

If he decides its to violent, The rating is still teen on there, Fact of the matter is his decision to rate ANYTHING would be shot down in court.

The Judge should know this.


But that means you think it is the judge's job to decide whether or not a protected work of speech has a right to be sold. It's not.

As I mentioned earlier, the content of Bully is irrelevant. Because Bully is protected by free speech, and free speech doesn't just cover things we like. Whether the judge personnaly likes Bully, or whether he hates the game and thinks it never should have been made... that does not matter.
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